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Keith Pullman v. Michael Chrisman

December 20, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge


Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, which includes a request for judicial notice. (ECF No. 3.) Also before the Court are Plaintiff's opposition (ECF No. 7) and Defendants' reply (ECF No. 8). Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Defendants' request for judicial notice and GRANTS IN PART Defendants' motion to dismiss.


Plaintiff Keith Pullman became concerned about the closing of a public road through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park ("the Park") by the California Department of Parks and Recreation ("CDPR") and "initiated an investigation" beginning in July, 2008. (Compl. ¶ 17, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff claims he has "persistently but peacefully" sought to review and examine various records of the CDPR pertaining to this road closure, but was denied access to these records on multiple occasions. (Id.) Plaintiff entered the headquarters of the Park in March, 2009, and demanded a list of the names, badge numbers, and mailing addresses of the officers assigned to the Park. (Compl. ¶ 21.) Defendant Mark Jorgensen, while "visibly armed," instructed an employee not to provide the information to Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 22.) On February 25, 2009, March 19, 2009, and again on July 7, 2009, Defendant Tara Lynch, Acting Chief Counsel of CDPR, wrote to Plaintiff asking him to cease contacting employees of CDPR and to direct all future communications through her. (Compl. ¶¶ 18, 23, 25.) Defendant Lynch apparently also directed several CDPR employees to refuse to respond to Plaintiff's requests for public records. Plaintiff made several subsequent attempts to inspect the Coyote Canyon Public Use Plan ("the Plan") by making demands at various CDPR offices, but was not given access to the Plan at those times.

On November 24, 2009, Plaintiff entered the CDPR's office at the Colorado Desert District and requested to inspect the Plan. (Compl. ¶ 36.) Defendants McLaughlin and Collins refused to permit him to inspect the Plan at that time, and Defendant Collins ordered Plaintiff from the building. (Compl. ¶¶ 37-39.) Plaintiff claims Defendant Collins made "physical, harmful and offensive contact with Plaintiff in an attempt to force Plaintiff from the building" and pointed a canister of pepper spray at Plaintiff, threatening to spray him if he did not leave the building. (Compl. ¶ 40.) Plaintiff states he "continues to fear serious bodily injury if he were to again attempt to contact or correspond with employees of . . . the CDPR, or again attempt to inspect or procure copies of public records of the . . . CDPR." (Compl. ¶ 48.) Plaintiff submitted a claim to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board on August 8, 2010, for damages arising out of the claims asserted in this complaint, which was rejected on September 23, 2010. (Compl. ¶ 45.)

Of Plaintiff's six asserted causes of action, only the one brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserts a federal claim and the remaining five are brought under state law. Defendants' primary argument in favor of dismissal is that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's sole federal claim for failure to allege a cognizable constitutional violation, and then decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claims brought under state law. For the following reasons, the Court agrees.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by motion the defense that the complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," generally referred to as a motion to dismiss. The Court evaluates whether a complaint states a cognizable legal theory and sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although Rule 8 "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' . . . it [does] demand[] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In other words, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A claim is facially plausible when the facts pled "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). That is not to say that the claim must be probable, but there must be "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Facts "'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability" fall short of a plausible entitlement to relief. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, the Court need not accept as true "legal conclusions" contained in the complaint. Id. This review requires context-specific analysis involving the Court's "judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950 (citation omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. Moreover, "for a complaint to be dismissed because the allegations give rise to an affirmative defense[,] the defense clearly must appear on the face of the pleading." McCalden v. Ca. Library Ass'n, 955 F.2d 1214, 1219 (9th Cir. 1990).

Where a motion to dismiss is granted, "leave to amend should be granted 'unless the court determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency.'" DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting Schreiber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986)). In other words, where leave to amend would be futile, the Court may deny leave to amend. See Desoto, 957 F.2d at 658; Schreiber, 806 F.2d at 1401.


1. Defendants' Request for Judicial Notice

Defendants move the Court to take judicial notice of proceedings related to Plaintiff's actions before the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. This includes an exhibit attached to Plaintiff's administrative claim, which consists of extensive documentation of correspondence between Plaintiff and CPRA employees.

As a general rule, a district court "may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 453 (9th Cir. 1994). However, an exception to this general rule exists for "matters of public record." Mack v. South Bay Beer Distrib., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986); see also Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 240 F.3d 754, 774 (9th Cir. 2001) (stating that the district court may take judicial notice of undisputed matters of public record, but not of disputed facts contained therein); see also Fed. R. Evid. 201.

The Court finds that the documents are properly judicially noticed. See United States ex rel. Robinson Rancheria Citizens Council v. Borneo, Inc., 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir.1992) ("We may take judicial notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to the matters at issue." (internal quotation marks omitted)). The documentation of Plaintiff's administrative claim is a matter of public record, and Plaintiff does not dispute the authenticity of the documents, even citing to the facts contained therein throughout his opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss. (See, e.g.,Pl's Opp'n 2 ...

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