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Cote v. City of Santa Ana

June 23, 2010

EDWARD COTE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SANTA ANA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

Order Granting Defendant Western Medical Center's Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 3) [Motion filed on May 20, 2010]

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Western Medical Center-Anaheim ("Defendant" or "Western Medical Center")'s Motion to Dismiss. Having reviewed the parties' moving papers, the Court GRANTS the Motion.

I. Background

Plaintiff Edward Cote ("Plaintiff") alleges that Defendants Western Medical Center and Dr. Ravinder Singh ("Singh"), a Western Medical Center employee, negligently held Plaintiff against his will without probable cause. (Compl. 18:21-25.)

The relevant background facts are as follows.*fn1 At approximately 8:30 p.m. on November 26, 2008, officers from the Santa Ana Police Department responded to Plaintiff's home after he placed a 911 call. (Compl. 5:15-18.) A physical altercation broke out between Plaintiff and the officers responding to the call, and the officers subsequently handcuffed Plaintiff and detained him in a squad car outside his home for approximately three hours. (Compl. 5:18-6:5.) Detective Sargent Bollinger then determined that Plaintiff required a mental disorder evaluation pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code § 5150.*fn2 (Compl. 6:10-13.)

The officers first transported Plaintiff to the University of California-Irvine Medical Center. (Compl. 6:15-17.) They subsequently transferred him to Western Medical Center sometime in the late evening of November 26, 2008 or early morning of November 27, 2008. (Compl. 6:25-26.) Dr. Singh conducted an intake interview and preliminary evaluation. (Compl. 7:4-16.) At approximately 3:00 p.m. on November 27, 2008, Dr. Singh notified Plaintiff that he did not meet the criteria for a § 5150 hold (i.e., that there was not probable cause to believe that Plaintiff posed a threat to himself or others as a result of a mental disorder), but that he would not be released until the following day because of Western Medical Center's policy against releasing patients after 3:00 p.m. (Compl. 18:25-19:2.) Dr. Singh eventually authorized Plaintiff's release sometime in the morning of November 28, 2008. (Compl. 19:23-25.) Plaintiff alleges that Western Medical Center was negligent in failing to release him immediately upon concluding that a § 5150 detention was not warranted.

Defendant subsequently reported Plaintiff's involuntary detention to the California Department of Justice ("Cal DOJ").*fn3

Cal DOJ later denied Plaintiff's application to purchase a gun on the basis of the involuntary detention report that Defendant submitted. (Compl. 20:12-15.) Plaintiff contends that Defendant's negligent mental health assessment, and subsequent inaccurate report to Cal DOJ, resulted in a temporary restriction on his ability to own, possess, or sell firearms. (Compl. 19:2-6.) He further alleges that, as a result of the Cal DOJ report, he was forced to bring a legal challenge to the firearm prohibition at his own expense. (Compl. 19:2-6, 21:13-16.) He filed this action against Western Medical Center, Dr. Singh, the City of Santa Ana, Santa Ana Police Chief Paul M. Walters (in his official capacity), and Santa Ana Police Officers Bollinger, Beatly, and Vargas (in their official and individual capacities) on April 21, 2010. Plaintiff's sole claim against Defendant Western Medical Center is for negligence.

Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's negligence claim on May 20, 2010 (Dkt. No. 3.) Plaintiff filed an Opposition on June 7, 2010, (Dkt. No. 19), and Defendant filed a Reply, (Dkt. No. 21), along with an Objection to Plaintiff's Opposition on June 11, 2010, (Dkt. No. 22).*fn4

II. Legal Standard

In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), the Supreme Court laid out the following methodological approach for testing the adequacy of a plaintiff's complaint:

[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.

While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.

When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly ...


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