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Chase M. Riggi, Individually and By and v. City of Placerville; et al

December 16, 2011

CHASE M. RIGGI, INDIVIDUALLY AND BY AND THROUGH HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, JAMES M. RIGGI; ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF PLACERVILLE; ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Through this action, Plaintiffs Chase M. Riggi, Marty Hansen, Joan Beatrice, and the Estate of Linda Carol Clark (collectively, "Plaintiffs") seek to recover from Defendants, City of Placerville, Placerville Police Department, City of Placerville Policeman Nicolas Maurer, Placerville Police Chief George Nielsen, El Dorado County, El Dorado County Emergency Services District, El Dorado County Department of Mental Health,*fn1 and Marshall Medical Center (collectively "Defendants") for injuries sustained as a result of the shooting death of Ms. Clark. Presently before the Court is Defendant El Dorado County Emergency Services District's ("the District" or "Defendant") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' fifth claim for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the following reasons, the District's Motion is DENIED.*fn2

BACKGROUND*fn3

On March 27, 2010, Ms. Clark was involuntarily detained at the El Dorado County Mental Health Facility pursuant to California Welfare & Institutions Code § 5150 because she was deemed disabled and a danger to herself. Later that evening, Ms. Clark was taken to the Marshall Medical Center in Placerville, California, for medical evaluation and treatment. The next day, "at approximately 10:11 a.m., [Linda Clark], in her hospital gown, walked down a hallway of the Marshall Medical Center to the ambulance bay, found an unlocked, unattended ambulance with the keys in plain view, and drove said ambulance vehicle away." (SAC ¶ 17.) Medical Center staff called 911 to report the ambulance stolen, after which City of Placerville police pursued and eventually stopped the vehicle. Ms. Clark refused to surrender and was subsequently shot and killed.

The portions of the complaint pertinent to this motion allege as follows:

Employees of EL DORADO COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES DISTRICT responsible for operation of the ambulance LINDA CAROL CLARK drove from the hospital, were negligent by virtue of the fact that they left keys for the subject ambulance in open view and easily accessible by unauthorized individuals, including, but not limited to, the allegedly mentally disabled LINDA CAROL CLARK. . . .

Plaintiffs are informed and believe that the violations of LINDA CAROL CLARK's constitutional rights complained of herein and the resulting death of LINDA CAROL CLARK, caused Plaintiffs' resulting injuries and damages, and were caused by the customs, policies, directives, practices, acts and/or omissions of authorized policy makers of Defendant[] . . . EL DORADO COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES DISTRICT. . ..

The aforementioned acts and/or omissions of Defendants violated LINDA CAROL CLARK's civil rights and were the direct and proximate result of policies procedures practices/customs of Defendants, and each of them, as alleged herein. Such policies, procedures, and practices/customs include, but are not limited to, an ongoing pattern of deliberate indifference to the need for proper training and supervision of emergency personnel including, but not limited to, paramedic/emergency medical technicians including those employees of Defendant EL DORADO COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES DISTRICT responsible for the security and/or lack thereof of the ambulance left unattended and with keys in open view that decedent LINDA CAROL CLARK drove from MERCY MEDICAL CENTER on March 29, 2010 that proximately caused her death.

As a direct and proximate result of the aforementioned policies, procedures, practices/customs of said Defendants, and each of them, decedent and Plaintiffs . . . individually and as successor in interest . . . suffered injury and damages as alleged herein including, but not limited to deprivation of the parent child relationship. (SAC ¶¶ 33(f), 35, 59-62) (emphasis added).

Plaintiffs assert a variety of claims against the various Defendants, only one of which, the fifth claim for violation of § 1983, is subject to this motion. The District now moves to dismiss this claim.

STANDARD

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6),*fn4 all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Rule 8(a)(2) "requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the Defendant fair notice of what the [...] claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not require detailed factual allegations. However, "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." Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted). A court is not required to accept as true a "legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

"Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216 (3d ed. 2004) (stating that the pleading must contain something more than "a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.")).

Furthermore, "Rule 8(a)(2)...requires a 'showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3 (internal citations and quotations omitted). Thus, "[w]ithout some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirements of providing not only 'fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also 'grounds' on which the claim rests." Id. (citing 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, supra, at ยง 1202). A pleading must contain "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its ...


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