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James Loran Quinn v. Fresno County Sheriff

February 8, 2011

JAMES LORAN QUINN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRESNO COUNTY SHERIFF, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION REGARDING MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. 10)

I. INTRODUCTION.

Plaintiff James Loran Quinn "Plaintiff" proceeds with an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various Defendants. Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint ("SAC") on October 8, 2010. (Doc. 7).

On October 18, 2010, Defendants David Alanis ("Alanis") and the County of Fresno ("the County") filed a motion to dismiss the SAC. (Doc. 10). Plaintiff filed opposition to the motion to dismiss on November 8, 2010. (Doc. 12). Alanis and the County filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition on November 15, 2010. (Doc. 13).

On November 15, 2010, Alanis, the County, and Defendant Linda M. Penner ("Penner") filed a second motion to dismiss. (Doc. 14). Plaintiff filed opposition to the second motion to dismiss on January 21, 2011. (Doc. 18). Defendants filed a reply on January 21, 2011. (Doc. 19).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.

Plaintiff pled guilty to driving under the influence on September 5, 2005, and was sentenced to five years of formal probation. (SAC at 3). The terms of Plaintiff's probation require him to file a report each month with the probation department. (SAC at 3). In October 2006, Alanis was designated as Plaintiff's probation officer. (SAC at 3).

On December 4, 2006, Plaintiff personally delivered his monthly report form for December to Alanis at the probation department office. (SAC at 4). Upon turning in his monthly report form, Plaintiff had a conversation with Alanis. (SAC at 4). Sometime prior to January 11, 2007, Plaintiff personally delivered January's monthly report form to the probation department office. (SAC at 4). Plaintiff spoke with Alanis when he visited the probation department office to turn in his January monthly report. (SAC at 4). On or about February 5, 2007, Plaintiff personally delivered February's monthly report form to the probation department office. (SAC at 4).

Plaintiff's Arrest

On February 12, 2007, Detective Mark VanWyhe of the Fresno Police Department contacted Alanis to inquire about Plaintiff's probation status. (SAC at 4). In response to VanWyhe's inquiry, Alanis checked the probation department's Adult Probation System ("APS"), a computer data-base which contains scanned copies of individuals' monthly report forms. (SAC at 4). Alanis found that Plaintiff's monthly report forms for December 2006, January 2007, and February 2007 were missing. (SAC at 4). According to Alanis, he checked Plaintiff's physical probation file and discovered that it did not contain Plaintiff's monthly report forms for December 2006, January 2007, or February 2007. (SAC at 4). Alanis told VanWyhe to arrest Plaintiff for violating the monthly report requirement of his probation. (SAC at 4-5). The SAC alleges that, at all times, VanWyhe was acting pursuant to Alanis' direction and was Alanis' authorized agent. (SAC at 6).

The SAC alleges that VanWyhe went to Plaintiff's place of business and announced that he was arresting Plaintiff due to Plaintiff's failure to file three monthly report forms. Plaintiff responded he had copies of the three forms in question with probation department date stamps in his office. (SAC at 5). VanWhye stated that he would not waste time to consider Plaintiff's evidence of compliance with the monthly report requirements and informed Plaintiff that he was going to jail. (SAC at 5).

VanWyhe reported to Alanis that Plaintiff told him that Plaintiff had submitted the three missing reports, but Alanis instructed VanWhye to perfect the arrest. (SAC at 5). VanWyhe transported Plaintiff to the booking area of the Fresno County Jail. (SAC at 5). Alanis took charge of the arrest once Plaintiff arrived at the Fresno County Jail. (SAC at 5). Plaintiff reminded Alanis that he had personally submitted his December 2006 report to him and that Alanis had engaged in a discussion with Plaintiff at that time. (SAC at 5). Plaintiff then asked Alanis when he would go before a judge, and Alanis replied "you wont" and then said something to the effect of "this is a lesson to you." (SAC at 5). Plaintiff then told Alanis that he had proof in his office that he had submitted the monthly reports in question to the probation office. (SAC at 5). Alanis refused to listen to Plaintiff and told Plaintiff he was not interested in Plaintiff's explanation or proof. (SAC at 5-6).

Sometime before being placed with the general population, Plaintiff, in Alanis' presence, spoke to his former wife, Deborah, on the telephone. (SAC at 6). Deborah agreed to leave work and to retrieve the conformed copies of Plaintiff's monthly reports from Plaintiff's office. (SAC at 6). Deborah subsequently called Alanis and told him she had found the conformed copies of the three monthly reports. (SAC at 6). Alanis told Deborah that she didn't have all of the reports, and that it didn't matter whether she did or not because Alanis could throw Plaintiff in jail whenever he wanted to. (SAC at 6).

The SAC alleges that the probation department moved offices in January 2007, and that at the time he authorized Plaintiff's arrest, Alanis knew, or should have known, that the APS system's information was not up to date because staffing shortages prolonged the scanning process. (SAC at 8).

Plaintiff's Medical Treatment

At the time of his arrest, Plaintiff was suffering from heart disease and was taking several prescription medications daily. (SAC at 6). Plaintiff told Alanis that he was a cardiac patient and needed his heart medications because he had not taken them prior to his arrest. (SAC at 7). Alanis ignored Plaintiff's request. (SAC at 7). Additionally, as part of the booking process, Plaintiff's prescription pain medication was taken from him and never returned. (SAC at 7). By 2200 hours on February 12, 2007, Plaintiff was experiencing severe and increasing pain in his chest. (SAC at 7). Plaintiff was given nitroglycerin, which did not address his needs. Plaintiff submitted an inmate grievance form on February 13, 2007, requesting medical attention for his unstable heart condition. (SAC at 7). Plaintiff's associate delivered Plaintiff's medication to the Fresno County Jail some time on February 13, 2007; the medication was never given to Plaintiff. (SAC at 7).

Plaintiff's request for medical attention was ignored until the early morning hours of February 14, 2007; by that time, Plaintiff's cellmate had flagged down the nurse on duty, who recognized that Plaintiff's condition was very serious. (SAC at

7). An EKG and blood pressure measurement confirmed that Plaintiff was in extremis, and Plaintiff was immediately transferred to an emergency room. (SAC at 7). Alanis subsequently learned that Plaintiff had been hospitalized and contacted the Fresno County Jail to advise that Alanis would not pursue a formal violation and would deal with Plaintiff "out of custody." (SAC at 8). Alanis completed necessary paperwork, and Plaintiff was released from custody while still hospitalized. (SAC at 8). Plaintiff was discharged from the hospital on February 17, 2007. (SAC at 8).

III. LEGAL STANDARD.

Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate where the complaint lacks sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.1990). To sufficiently state a claim to relief and survive a 12(b) (6) motion, the pleading "does not need detailed factual allegations" but the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Mere "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. Rather, there must be "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. In other words, the "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).

The Ninth Circuit has summarized the governing standard, in light of Twombly and Iqbal, as follows: "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir.2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Apart from factual insufficiency, a complaint is also subject to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) where it lacks a cognizable legal theory, Balistreri, 901 F.2d at 699, or where the allegations on their face "show that relief is barred" for some legal reason, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215, 127 S.Ct. 910, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007).

In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all "well-pleaded factual allegations" in the pleading under attack. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. A court is not, however, "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.2001). "When ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, if a district court considers evidence outside the pleadings, it must normally convert the 12(b)(6) motion into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment, and it must give the nonmoving party an opportunity to respond." United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 907 (9th Cir.2003). "A court may, however, consider certain materials-documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice-without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment." Id. at 908.

IV. DISCUSSION.

A. Plaintiff's Federal Claims

1. Statute of Limitations Issue

Defendants contend that Plaintiff's federal claims are time-barred because the SAC contains factual details not alleged in Plaintiff's original complaint. Rule 15(c)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in part:

An amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when . . . the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set ...


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