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Cameron v. Buether

March 23, 2010

MICHELLE CAMERON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID BUETHER, MICHELLE CRAIG, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court

ORDER: (1) GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S CORRECTED MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT (Doc. No. 19); and (2) DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, and DOES 1-10, DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S inclusive, COMPLAINT (Doc. No. 10).

Presently before the Court are Plaintiff Michelle Cameron's ("Plaintiff") motion to amend and Defendant County of San Diego's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint.

The Court finds the motions suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants in part Plaintiff's motion to amend and denies Defendant's motion to dismiss as moot.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This action involves the alleged violation of Plaintiff's civil rights and other injuries. The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff and Defendant David Buether ("Buether") were in a relationship, lived together for about four years, and had two children together. When Plaintiff and Buether moved in together, they opened a joint checking account.

Plaintiff did not have any other accounts under her name and believed all their finances were commingled. Plaintiff received a check card and used it to make purchases for herself, their children, and their household. Buether possessed a credit card which Plaintiff believed was for joint use, and on numerous occasions she used it for her own use and household use. Buether owned their home, but upon his request, Plaintiff became a co-debtor with him on an equity line of credit for $150,000 on the home.

On October 8, 2008, Buether got a restraining order against Plaintiff, and Plaintiff and her two children vacated the home. Upon asking Buether what she was supposed to do without any belongings, he told her to "do what you need to do." Plaintiff then used the credit card to purchase the items necessary to make a home. Buether filed a criminal complaint against Plaintiff alleging she fraudulently used his credit cards. Buether fielded the complaint with Defendant Michelle Craig ("Craig"), a detective with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

On or about December 18, 2008 at 7:00 a.m., a team of deputies entered Plaintiff's residence "with guns drawn in a SWAT-like raid." The deputies confiscated furniture and arrested Plaintiff. Plaintiff spent five days in jail. The charges against her for grand theft, identity theft, and credit card fraud were later dismissed.

Buether is an employee of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Plaintiff alleges Buether and Craig attended law enforcement academy training together and have a social relationship. According to Plaintiff, Buether negligently or deliberately did not tell Craig about the nature of their commingled finances and that Buether had told Plaintiff to "do what you need to do." Alternatively, Plaintiff alleges Buether did convey all this information to Craig. Plaintiff contends Craig was on notice of the joint checking account, as set forth in the affidavit for a search warrant (Compl., Ex. 1), but either negligently or intentionally failed to make further inquiry into their joint financial status and include that information in the affidavit for a search warrant. If Craig had done this, Plaintiff contends the warrant would not have been issued.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

OnNovember 6, 2009, Plaintiff filed the Complaint against Defendants Buether, Craig, and the County of San Diego ("the County"). (Doc. No.1.)The Complaint lists two causes of action: (1) deprivation of Plaintiff's civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and, (2) unlawful policies, customs, or habits in violation of § 1983. The Complaint also states in the first paragraph: "State claims of negligence, harassment, false arrest and Civil Code section 52.1 civil rights violations are alleged as well." (Compl. ¶ 1.) The Complaint contains no allegations specific to the state law causes of action.

On January 14, 2010, Craig filed an answer to the Complaint. (Doc. No. 15.) On January 27, 2010, the Court granted Plaintiff and Buether's second joint motion to extend time for Buether to respond to the Complaint. (Doc. No. 23.)

On December 23, 2009, the County filed the instant motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with regard to Plaintiff's second cause of action for unlawful policies, customs, or habits in violation of § 1983. (Doc. No. 10.) On January 21, 2010, Plaintiff filed a statement of non-opposition to the motion to dismiss, stating she would omit the second cause of action in an amended complaint. The next day Plaintiff filed the instant corrected motion to amend the Complaint and a proposed First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (Doc. No. 19.) The Court sua sponte rescheduled the hearing dates for both motions in order to consider them together.

Defendants Buether and Cameron ("Defendants") filed an opposition to the motion to amend, arguing that amendment would be futile because Plaintiff's causes of action are barred as a matter of law. Plaintiff filed a reply, and ...


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