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Johnson v. City of San Diego

April 2, 2010

KARL PHILIP JOHNSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge

ORDER

The matter before the Court is Defendants' Amended Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 30).

BACKGROUND

This action arises out of an incident which occurred on May 20, 2006, when Defendants Jamie Fitzpatrick and Frank Wilson, police officers of the San Diego Police Department, arrested, handcuffed, and placed Plaintiff in the back of their patrol vehicle. Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested without a warrant or probable cause; that he was placed in the patrol vehicle without a seatbelt; that the patrol vehicle was involved in an accident and that he was injured as a result.

On May 19, 2008, Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint against the City of San Diego, the San Diego Police Department, and San Diego Police Officers Jamie Fitzpatrick and Frank Wilson. (Doc. # 1). On May 8, 2009, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint ("FAC"). (Doc. # 16). Plaintiff alleged the following causes of action in the FAC:

(1) illegal search and seizure; (2) invasion of privacy; (3) cruel and unusual punishment; and (4) violation of federal and state constitutional and statutory rights. On May 28, 2009, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's FAC. On August 13, 2009, the Court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. (Doc. # 22). The Court dismissed the first, second, and third cause of action against the City of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department, holding Plaintiff did not allege facts which would establish municipal liability for § 1983 violations pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-94 (1978). Id. at 11. The Court denied Defendants Fitzpatrick and Wilson's Motion to Dismiss the first and second claims. Id. The Court dismissed the third cause of action against Defendants Fitzpatrick and Wilson because Plaintiff was never convicted of a crime, and is therefore not subject to punishment or covered by the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Id. at 11-12. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's fourth claim against all Defendants for violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1985, and 1986, violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and violation of California Civil Code §§ 51, 52, and 52.1

On November 23, 2009, Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") which is the operative pleading in this case. (Doc. # 28). Plaintiff alleges the following causes of action in the SAC: (1) illegal search and seizure; (2) invasion of privacy; (3) violation of personal security. Id.

On December 3, 2009, Defendants filed their Amended Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 30). In their Amended Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, Defendants contend that Plaintiff has failed to properly plead his constitutional claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and that Plaintiff has improperly named the City of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department as Defendants. (Doc. # 30-1 at 4). Defendants contend that the SAC should be dismissed without leave to amend. Id.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) provides: "A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

To sufficiently state a claim for relief, a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations" but the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). When considering a motion to dismiss, a court must accept as true all "well-pleaded factual allegations." Ashcroft v.Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009). However, a court is not "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); see, e.g., Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 683 (9th Cir. 2009) ("Plaintiffs' general statement that Wal-Mart exercised control over their day-to-day employment is a conclusion, not a factual allegation stated with any specificity. We need not accept Plaintiffs' unwarranted conclusion in reviewing a motion to dismiss."). "In sum, for a Complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (quotations omitted).

ANALYSIS

Section 1983 "creates a remedy for violations of federal rights committed by persons acting under color of state law." Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 358 (1990). "The elements of a section 1983 action are: (1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the conduct deprived a person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by ...


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