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Troy J. Dugan v. County of Los Angeles

April 9, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge


Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (Dkt. No. 26.) Having considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant Motion, the Court deems the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15.


On the evening of October 3, 2009, Plaintiff went to the residence of his neighbor, Esther Robbins, to help her resolve a dispute she was having with her landlord. (FAC ¶¶ 8--9.) Robbins had informed Plaintiff that Robbins's landlord was physically evicting her-throwing her belongings onto the front lawn-without proper authority and asked Plaintiff for help. (Id. ¶ 9.) When Plaintiff arrived at Robbins's home, he joined in the argument between Robbins and her landlord. (Id. ¶ 10.) Eventually, Plaintiff told the landlord the argument was getting out of control and he was going to call the police to resolve the issue. (Id.) After Plaintiff called the police,

the landlord went to her truck in front of Robbins's home to wait for the police and Plaintiff and Robbins went back into the residence. (Id.)

When the deputies*fn1 arrived at Robbins's home, Plaintiff was sitting on a chair in one of the bedrooms of the residence. (Id. ¶ 11.) The deputies first spoke with the landlord out in front of the residence and then approached Robbins, who apparently returned outside, and asked if anyone was inside the house. (Id.) Robbins responded that Plaintiff was inside. (Id.)

The deputies entered the residence with their guns drawn and moved into the bedroom where Plaintiff was. (Id.) Two of the deputies*fn2 entered the bedroom and ordered Plaintiff to stand up. (Id.) Plaintiff did not immediately arise and asked the deputies why he should stand. (Id.) The two deputies approached Plaintiff, one standing on either side of him, and again ordered Plaintiff to stand. (Id.) Then one of the deputies reached for Plaintiff, who was starting to stand up. (Id.) Plaintiff told the deputies that he would stand on his own. (Id.) The other deputy took out a can of pepper spray and attempted to spray Plaintiff with it. (Id. ¶¶ 11--12.) The deputy partially sprayed Plaintiff but also sprayed the other deputy. (Id. ¶ 12.) The deputy with the can of pepper spray then hit Plaintiff in the head with the can, causing a laceration on the side of Plaintiff's forehead. (Id.) The two deputies then pushed Plaintiff up against the wall, handcuffed him, and dragged him out of the bedroom on his stomach. (Id.)

After being taken to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries, Plaintiff was booked into jail with charges for resisting arrest and making criminal threats. (Id.

¶ 14.) Plaintiff remained in jail until October 6, 2009, four days later. (Id. ¶ 15.) / / /

Eventually, Plaintiff was charged in court with resisting, obstructing, or delaying a peace officer in the performance of his duties, based upon the deputies' reports of the October 3, 2009 incident. (Id. ¶ 14.) This charge was ultimately dismissed. (Id. ¶ 15.)

On September 30, 2011, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants. (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff subsequently filed a FAC on December 12, 2011. (Dkt. No. 9.) Therein, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his constitutional rights by arresting him without a warrant or probable cause, using excessive force during the arrest, and maliciously prosecuting him. (FAC ¶¶ 17--19.) Plaintiff also alleges that the County of Los Angeles is liable under § 1983 because the County's unlawful policies, customs, and habits of inadequately hiring, training, disciplining, and supervising its deputies proximately caused Plaintiff's injuries. (Id. ¶¶ 24--26.)

Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's FAC entirely under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 26.)


To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint generally must satisfy only the minimal pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2). Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). Rule 8(a)(2) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). For a complaint to sufficiently state a claim, its "[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 (2007). Dismissal under a 12(b)(6) motion can be based on "the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To overcome a ...

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