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John Doe, A Minor, By His Guardian Ad v. Sacramento Department of Health and Human Services-Child

March 9, 2012

JOHN DOE, A MINOR, BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, KATHRYN CLARK,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SACRAMENTO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES-CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES OF SACRAMENTO COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

This matter is before the Court upon Defendants County of Sacramento and Ann Edwards' (collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss For Failure to State A Claim (Doc. #20). Plaintiff John Doe ("Plaintiff") opposes the motion (Doc. #23). Defendants filed a reply (Doc. #24).

I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This action originated when Plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court on July 5, 2011 (Doc. #1). Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint (the "Amended Complaint") (Doc. #13) on August 26, 2011, which Defendants now seek to partially dismiss. The Amended Complaint names Sacramento Department of Health and Human 2 Services-Child Protective Services of Sacramento County and Ann 3 Edwards, the director of that department, as defendants. The 4 Amended Complaint also asserts claims against multiple Doe 5 defendants. 6

The allegations in the Amended Complaint concern injuries 7 allegedly sustained by Plaintiff when he was in the care of Non-8 relative Extended Family Members ("NREFMs"). Plaintiff was 9 declared a dependent child of Sacramento County Juvenile Court in January, 2009. Plaintiff was placed with two different caregivers before he was placed with NREFMs Fernando Ramirez and Lace Robinson ("Ramirez/Robinson"). The placement with the NREFMs was in an apartment, not a single family home.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to ensure that his placement with the NREFMs was safe because Defendants apply lower safety standards for apartment placements and placements with NRFEMs. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants did not properly ensure that the Ramirez/Robinson home met federal and state health and safety standards. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants failed to conduct proper background checks on Robinson and Ramirez. Plaintiff alleges that there was no effort to ensure that the water temperature in the Ramirez/Robinson home was regulated to avoid burns to young children.

In early July, 2009, Plaintiff alleges that he sustained second degree burns to 12% of his body when he was left unattended in the bathtub. The burns were allegedly to his groin, scrotum, buttocks, posterior trunk, and lower abdominal wall. Plaintiff was hospitalized after the incident. Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from permanent physical and psychological injuries as a result of 2 the incident. 3

Plaintiff alleges that he would not have been injured if 4 Defendants had ensured that the water temperature was properly 5 regulated prior to placing Plaintiff in the home. Further, 6 Plaintiff alleges that the injuries would not have been sustained 7 if Defendants had properly investigated the NREFMs's backgrounds. 8

Plaintiff asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 9 attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint also references several state laws that were allegedly violated by Defendants. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

II. OPINION

A. Legal Standard

1. Motion to Dismiss

A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). Assertions that are mere "legal conclusions," however, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive a motion to dismiss, a 2 plaintiff needs to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief 3 that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. 4

Dismissal is appropriate where the plaintiff fails to state a claim 5 supportable by a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica 6 Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). 7

Upon granting a motion to dismiss for failure to state a 8 claim, the court has discretion to allow leave to amend the 9 complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). "Dismissal with prejudice and without leave to amend is not appropriate unless it is clear . . . that the complaint could not be saved by amendment." Eminence Capital, L.L.C. v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).

B. Discussion

1. Defendant Ann ...


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