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Estate of Contreras v. County of Glenn

July 15, 2010

ESTATE OF JESSIE P. CONTRERAS, BY AND THROUGH HIS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR AND LEONOR CONTRERAS, INDIVIDUAL, MOTHER OF DECEASED, AND JESSIE CONTRERAS, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COUNTY OF GLENN; GLENN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; LARRY JONES, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS GLENN COUNTRY SHERIFF; LT. TIM ASBURY, LT. REVOLINSKI, LT. WARREN, SGT. WHITE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AS COMMANDERS, SUPERVISORS, AND/OR SUPERVISORS OF PERSONNEL OF GLENN COUNTY JAIL; DEE DEE NELSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS GLENN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL OFFICER; E. CHAVEZ, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS GLENN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL OFFICER; GLENN MEDICAL CENTER INC; J.A.L.A. A MINOR, DAUGHTER OF JESSIE CONTRERAS, AND DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE; DEFENDANTS.



ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS LEONOR CONTRERAS; COUNTY OF GLENN, GLENN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, SHERIFF LARRY JONES' MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO STRIKE

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' County of Glenn, Glenn County Sheriff's Department, and Sheriff Larry Jones' ("Defendants'") Motion to Dismiss, (Doc. 10), Plaintiffs' Estate of Jessie P. Contreras, Leonor Contreras and Jessie Contreras' ("Plaintiff's") First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (Doc. 6). Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiffs' fourth claim for relief for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendants ask the court to strike or dismiss Leonor Contreras as a plaintiff in the first and second claims for relief, and in the survival action portion of the fifth through eighth claims for relief. Defendants further request an order for a more definite statement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) with regard to certain claims and factual issues. Lastly, Defendants move to strike all allegations of decedent's pre-death pain, suffering or disfigurement, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f).

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Decedent Jessie P. Contreras ("Decedent") was an inmate in Glenn County Jail ("the jail") at the time of his death on August 6, 2008. Decedent was admitted to the jail for misdemeanor offenses on July 30, 2008. Plaintiffs allege that Decedent indicated at the time of his intake at the jail, and thereafter, that he was mentally unstable and suicidal. Decedent was placed in a single cell with sheets and a bed, and no video camera for monitoring the cell. Plaintiffs allege that a jail officer noted in a computer log that Decedent had advised he was suicidal, yet no mental health or other health care was provided, Decedent was not placed in a safety or isolation cell, and he was not monitored on a suicide watch program. On August 4, 2008, Decedent was found in his cell, hanging from a bed sheet. He was taken to the hospital and died in the hospital on August 6, 2008. Plaintiffs bring survivor claims for civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and pendent state law survivor claims. Additionally, Plaintiffs ask for leave to amend the FAC to include Decedent's minor daughter, J.A.L.A., as a plaintiff.

OPINION

I. Legal Standard

A. Motion to Dismiss

A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1975), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). Assertions that are mere "legal conclusions," however, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009), citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff needs to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Dismissal is appropriate where the plaintiff fails to state a claim supportable by a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Upon granting a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court has discretion to allow leave to amend the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). "Dismissal with prejudice and without leave to amend is not appropriate unless it is clear . . . that the complaint could not be saved by amendment." Eminence Capital, L.L.C. v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).

B. Motion to Strike

"Rule 12(f) provides in pertinent part that the Court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter. . . Motions to strike are disfavored an infrequently granted. A motion to strike should not be granted unless it is clear that the matter to be stricken could have no possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation." Bassett v. Ruggles et al., 2009 WL 2982895 at *24(E.D. Cal. Sept. 14, 2009)(internal citations omitted).

II. Standing for Survival Claims

Defendants argue that Leonor Contreras, in her individual capacity, does not have standing to sue as a survivor, and should be dismissed as a plaintiff from the survivor claims (the first, second, and survival action portions of the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth claims for relief). Plaintiffs agree, and ask the Court for leave to amend these claims for relief in the FAC to clarify that Leonor Contreras brings these claims only in her capacity as the Personal Administrator of the Estate of Jessie P. Contreras, and not in her individual capacity as his mother. Plaintiff also requests leave to amend these claims to add Decedent's minor daughter as a claimant and to conform the claims with the applicable law in the California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.11, § 377.30 and California Probate Code § 6402. Accordingly, the Court dismisses Leonor Contreras as a plaintiff in her individual capacity from the first, second, and survival action portions of the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth claims for relief, and grants leave to amend these claims.

III. Federal Claims

Plaintiffs bring four federal claims for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants seek dismissal of the fourth claim for relief. The fourth claim is entitled "42 U.S.C. § 1983, Municipal/Supervisory Liability." In this claim, Plaintiffs allege that the acts or omissions of defendants violated plaintiffs' civil rights and were the direct and proximate result of policies, procedures and practices/customs of defendants. The claim is brought by all plaintiffs, and Plaintiffs ask to add Decedent's minor daughter as a claimant. Defendants argue that it is unclear whether the claim is intended as a ...


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