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Stephen Myers v. City of Madera

June 8, 2011

STEPHEN MYERS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF MADERA, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. #30]

INTRODUCTION

On March 29, 2011, Plaintiff Stephen Myers filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") against Defendants City of Madera, Madera Police Department, Michael Kime, Steven Frazier, Randall Williams, and David Tooley. Plaintiff brings his claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for "Unlawful Arrest & Prosecution" and "Violation of Due Process." On April 12, 2011, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),a claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Marceau v. Blackfeet Hous. Auth., 540 F.3d 916, 919 (9th Cir. 2008); Vignolo v. Miller, 120 F.3d 1075, 1077 (9th Cir. 1999). The Court is not required "to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1056-57 (9th Cir. 2008); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). As the Supreme Court has explained:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).

Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face[.]" Telesaurus VPC, LLC v. Power, 623 F.3d 998, 1003 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). "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 v. United States Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

If a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is granted, "[the] district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d 494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995). In other words, leave to amend need not be granted when amendment would be futile. Gompper v. VISX, Inc., 298 F.3d 893, 898 (9th Cir. 2002).

ALLEGED FACTS

On September 9, 2007, Plaintiff, then a police officer with the Madera Police Department ("MPD"), was directed to respond to an alleged bar fight next to the MPD offices. FAC at ¶ 11. Plaintiff saw suspect Pedro Martinez ("Martinez") standing near a fence adjacent to police headquarters. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff used his police baton to press Martinez against the fence. Id. at ¶ 16. Martinez grabbed the fence with his right hand. Id. at ¶ 17. Despite several loud, verbal commands by Plaintiff to release the fence, Martinez would not comply. Id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff struck Martinez three or four more times with his police baton until Martinez complied with Plaintiff's commands to show his hands and release the fence. Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiff arrested Martinez for a violation of California Penal Code Section 647(f). Id. at ¶ 20.

On September 11, 2007, Chief of Police for the MPD, Michael Kime ("Chief Kime"), placed Plaintiff on administrative leave pending the outcome of a use of force internal investigation. Id. at ¶ 21. Chief Kime ordered MPD Commander Steven Frazier ("Commander Frazier") to begin an internal affairs investigation regarding whether Plaintiff used excessive force against Martinez. Id. at ¶ 22. Subsequently, Chief Kime recommended Plaintiff's termination to City Administrator David Tooley ("Tooley"). Id. at ¶ 28. On February 1, 2008, Tooley notified Plaintiff of his termination. Id. at ¶ 29.

In addition to the internal investigation, Plaintiff's incident with Martinez resulted in a criminal investigation. Id. at ¶ 30. Chief Kime ordered MPD Commander Randall Williams ("Commander Williams") to begin a criminal investigation based on the allegation that Plaintiff had used excessive force against Martinez. Id. Commander Williams then directed Sergeant Damon Wasson ("Sergeant Wasson") to conduct the criminal investigation. Id. at ¶ 31. Sergeant Wasson issued a report to the Madera County District Attorney's Office recommending criminal prosecution against Plaintiff for violations of California Penal Code Sections 118.1, 149, 243(a) and 245(a)(1). Id. at ¶ 33. On March 10, 2008, the Madera County District Attorney's Office filed criminal charges against Plaintiff for violations of California Penal Code Sections 149 and 245(a)(1). Id. at ¶ 34. On January 16, 2009, the criminal complaint was dismissed against Plaintiff due to insufficient evidence. Id. at ¶ 36.

DISCUSSION

1. MPD is not a proper defendant in ...


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