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Carlos Rodriguez v. City of Salinas; Sergeant Mark Lazzarini; Officer Stephen Craig

January 7, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lucy H. Koh United States District Judge

United States District Court For the Northern District of California


In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff Carlos Rodriguez alleges violations of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights in connection with a search of his home that resulted in his arrest and a third-party's conviction on criminal charges. Defendants moved to dismiss the First Amended Complaint pursuant to the doctrine articulated by the Supreme Court in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Plaintiff opposed the motion, and Defendants declined to file a 23 reply. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds that this motion is appropriate for 24 determination without oral argument. Having concluded that the Heck doctrine does not apply to 25 the facts alleged in this case, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion to dismiss.


In the spring of 2007, Plaintiff Carlos Rodriguez worked for the housing authority 28 managing the large apartment complex where he lived in Salinas, California, and also worked siX days a week as a delivery driver. Pl.'s First Amended Compl. for Damages for Violation of Civil 2 Rights ("FAC") ¶ 7. Plaintiff was unmarried and lived alone, but occasionally his sister, Cynthia 3 May 2007, Plaintiff agreed to let his sister stay with him for a few weeks. FAC ¶ 10. During that 5 time, Ms. Rodriguez was in communication with her ex-boyfriend, Jerry Lara, as they were co-6 parenting their child. Id. Plaintiff states that Mr. Lara visited his residence on a few occasions 7 while Ms. Rodriguez was staying there, and he spent the night once or twice, sleeping on the living 8 room sofa. FAC ¶ 10-11.

by law enforcement. FAC ¶ 12. At Mr. Lara's subsequent criminal proceeding, one of the

Plaintiff's apartment complex on May 9, 2007.*fn1 FAC ¶ 12. Twenty-six days later, on June 4, 13 2007, the police stopped Lara based on a probation search provision while he was driving to the 14 grocery store with Plaintiff's sister. FAC ¶ 13. Lara was pulled over at 10:21 p.m., at which time

Plaintiff was asleep at home in his bedroom. Id. When asked, both Lara and Ms. Rodriguez told 16 the police officers that Lara resided with his mother and denied that he had ever resided with While the traffic stop was still in progress, other officers were dispatched to Plaintiff's 19 residence to conduct an immediate, warrantless search of his apartment. FAC ¶ 15. By the time 20 they reached Plaintiff's residence, it was nearing midnight. FAC ¶ 16. Plaintiff alleges that the 21 officers failed to knock and announce their presence and instead broke and entered through a rear 22 door. Id. Plaintiff states that he awoke to noises downstairs, got out of bed, and was "shocked to 23 be confronted with an [officer] with a gun pointed directly at his head." FAC ¶ 17. Plaintiff claims 24 that there were eight police officers inside his apartment. Id.

Plaintiff states that he did not consent to the search of his apartment. FAC ¶ 17.

Nonetheless, as he was shocked and frightened and did not want to cause trouble, he followed the 3 officers' orders and stood outside while they searched the apartment. FAC ¶¶ 17-19. Shortly after 4 the search began, Plaintiff's sister arrived in another law enforcement vehicle. FAC ¶ 18. She 5 reminded him of his right not to be subjected to a warrantless search of his residence and urged him 6 to stand up for his constitutional rights. Id. After thinking it through, Plaintiff spoke to the police 7 officers and demanded that they halt the search and allow him back into his home. FAC 18-19. 8

Plaintiff alleges that the officers refused and physically blocked him from re-entering the 9 apartment. FAC ¶ 19. Plaintiff claims that when he persisted in his demands, the officers grabbed 10 him without warning and placed him in a pain compliance hold. Id. The officers then handcuffed

Plaintiff in front of his sister and several tenants of the apartment complex and placed him in the back of a patrol car. FAC ¶ 20.

and a search of the bag produced a gun. FAC ¶ 21. Lara was later found guilty of a probation 15 violation. Pl.'s Opp'n 2. Plaintiff was accused of resisting and delaying the officers, read his Miranda rights, and interviewed while in custody at police headquarters, but was ultimately 17 released around 1 a.m. that night. FAC ¶ 21. The charges against Plaintiff were dismissed before 18 his first court appearance. FAC ¶ 22. Plaintiff claims, however, that he was fired as manager of 19 the apartment complex and evicted from his residence as a result of having been handcuffed and 20 arrested in front of other tenants. Id.

Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983").

Plaintiff subsequently dismissed the county defendants, and on June 9, 2010, Plaintiff amended his 25 complaint to name Sergeant Mark Lazzarini, Officer Stephen Craig, Officer Chris Balaoro, Officer "the Officers") as Defendants. ...

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