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Lowry v. Metropolitan Transit

June 14, 2010

DARYL LOWRY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
METROPOLITAN TRANSIT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER RE MOTIONS TO DISMISS

Defendants Metropolitan Transit System (erroneously sued as Metropolitan Transit) ("MTS"), Heritage Security Services (erroneously sued as Heritage Security) ("Heritage"), and Edwin Ambriz have separately moved to dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint [Docs. 27, 29, 38]. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS MTS's motion to dismiss in its entirety [Doc. 27]. The Court also GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Heritage's motion [Doc. 29] and Ambriz's motion [Doc. 38].

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges violations of his constitutional rights and several state-law causes of action based on an alleged altercation he had with security officers on a trolley near the Old Town Trolley Station in San Diego. The Court more thoroughly discussed the facts of this case in an order dated March 8, 2010 [Doc. 24]. That order dismissed several of Plaintiff's claims with leave to amend. Plaintiff has filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). The Court resolves the issues raised in the parties' motions as set forth below.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the plaintiff is required only to set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," and "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the allegations of material fact in plaintiff's complaint are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). But only factual allegations must be accepted as true-not legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. Although detailed factual allegations are not required, the factual allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Furthermore, "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

III. DISCUSSION

1. Constitutional Claims Against MTS and Heritage

As discussed in the Court's March 8, 2010 order, Plaintiff appears to allege a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn1 But MTS and Heritage can only be liable under § 1983 if the violation was the result of either a policy or a failure to train their employees. See Bd. of County Comm'rs v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997); City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388 (1989).

The closest Plaintiff comes to alleging a policy or failure to train is this: "Defendants have intentionally or unintentionally conspired with each other, together as individuals, or collectively, to past, present and into the future to violate the civil right of the Plaintiff, under color of law by their past, present and future unguided by any known policies with regard to the enforcement of the peace and/or law enforcement." Although this sentence mentions policies, it does not allege how those policies led to his injuries, or that MTS failed to train its employees.

The constitutional claims against MTS and Heritage are DISMISSED without prejudice. Because Plaintiff has successfully pled in a related case that policies and a failure to train led to his injuries, the Court grants him leave to amend.

Plaintiff also alleges a "de facto government civil conspiracy to violate civil rights." This claim is unintelligible, devoid of facts, and the Court dismisses it with leave to amend.

2. Constitutional Claim Against Ambriz

To state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must plead "(1) a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, (2) proximately caused (3) by conduct of a 'person' (4) acting under color of state ...


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