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David Ormiston v. State of California

January 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge


Defendants State of California, Board of Nursing Home Administration, Charles Teddington, Ed Guam, and Brenda Klutz (collectively, "Defendants") move for dismissal of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") with prejudice, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6), arguing that the FAC fails to allege facts sufficient to state viable claims. Plaintiff filed an opposition in which he includes the statement that he "will dismiss the State of California." Therefore, the State of California is dismissed.

I. Legal Standard

To avoid dismissal of a claim in a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must allege "enough facts" showing that "a claim to relief . . . is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Moss v. United States Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1951).

In analyzing whether a claim has facial plausibility, "[w]e accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of material fact, and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 5141247, at *3 (9th Cir. 2010). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

"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, 572 F.3d at 969 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

II. Factual Allegations in Plaintiff's FAC

The allegations in Plaintiffs' FAC are mainly the following. Plaintiff "was licensed by the State of California as a Nursing Home Administrator . . . to operate a skilled nursing facility . . . in the city of Davis," in California. (FAC ¶ 12.) Plaintiff was operating that facility in April, 2000, when he authorized the emergency discharge of a resident because "that resident posed an immediate and substantial danger to other residents and the staff at that facility." Id. ¶¶ 12-13.

In April, 2003, "defendants GUAM and KLUTZ, acting within the scope of their respective authorities directed defendant TEDDINGTON to conduct an investigation into" Plaintiff's emergency discharge of the resident. Id. ¶ 13. Teddington was an "investigator retained by the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES"; Guam, was "a District Administrator with the BOARD OF NURSING HOME ADMINISTRATION"; and Klutz "was an Administrator Supervisor in the Licensing and Certification Branch of the BOARD OF NURSING HOME ADMINISTRATION." Id. ¶¶ 6-8. "Substantial evidence and sworn court testimony was available for review to the defendants prior to the commencement of the TEDDINGTON investigation to lead any reasonable person to conclude that the emergency discharge of the resident was justified and required[.]" Id. ¶ 14. "[D]efendants GUAM and KLUTZ directed TEDDINGTON to conduct an investigation for the purposes of justifying action against the license of [Plaintiff] regardless of the true facts." Id. ¶ 15.

Plaintiff alleges if the investigation had "been fairly conducted or adequately reviewed, [it] would have disclosed that there were no facts to justify any action against" his license; however, Defendants were "determined to bring an unjustified and unmeritorious administrative action against [Plaintiff] to deprive him of his Fifth Amendment property rights to his license[.]" Id. ¶ 16. "On or about August 20, 2003, defendants GUAM and KLUTZ authorized the commencement of an administrative complaint to be filed against" Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 17. "Defendants thereafter compounded the damage done to [Plaintiff] during the [administrative] proceeding by knowingly presenting the perjured testimony of CHARLES TEDDINGTON, with knowledge of the falsity of the testimony, and persisted in the pursuit of the action[.]" Id. An Administrative Law Judge found "the actions of [Plaintiff] were not only justified, but were required by the regulations which dictate his behavior under his license and further found that the testimony of TEDDINGTON, as the chief witness at the proceedings, was false and tainted the entire proceeding." Id.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his "Civil Rights under Color of State Law," and conspired "to Violate his Civil Rights under Color of State Law." Id. 5:7-8. Plaintiff's FAC is comprised of the following three claims: 1) "Due Process-Liberty Interests"; 2) "Due Process-Property"; and 3) "Due Process-Liberty[.]" Id. 5:7-8, 6:23-24, 7:19-20. Plaintiff alleges in his first claim, titled "Due Process-Liberty Interests":

Defendants, and each of them, acted in concert with each other pursuant to official policies, plans and training of their respective agencies, which are departments of STATE OF CALIFORNIA. These departments promulgated the policies and plans and conducted the training which manifests a deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of persons lawfully practicing his or her chosen profession and, more particularly, the rights of plaintiff.

Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiff alleges because of these acts he has suffered loss of reputation, incurred attorneys' fees rebutting the false allegations, and suffered emotional distress associated with the prosecution to which Defendants subjected him. Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff alleges in his second claim, titled "Due Process-Property", that Defendants acted to deprive him of his property interest in his state granted license "by making the false statements[.]" Id. ¶¶ 29-30. Plaintiff alleges in his third claim, titled "Due Process-Liberty", that ...

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