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Cory Hoch v. Officer Tarkenton

March 12, 2013

CORY HOCH,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER TARKENTON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING CERTAIN CLAIMS ECF No. 31

I. Background

Plaintiff Cory Hoch ("Plaintiff") is a civil detainee in the custody of the California Department of Mental Health, pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code sections 6600, et seq., also known as the Sexually Violent Predators Act. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On May 1, 2012, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint. ECF No. 31. On November 7, 2012, the Court screened Plaintiff's first amended complaint pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and found that it stated cognizable Fourth Amendment claims against Defendants Tarkenton, Christian, and Sanzberro. Plaintiff was provided the opportunity either to file a second amended complaint curing the deficiencies identified, or notify the Court that he wished to proceed only on the cognizable claims. On March 1, 2013, Plaintiff notified the Court that he wished to proceed only on the cognizable claims. The Court issues the following order.

"Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 2

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but 4 "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, 5 do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 6 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a 7 claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). While factual 8 allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. 9

II. Summary of First Amended Complaint

Plaintiff is detained at Coalinga State Hospital ("CSH") in Coalinga, California, where the events giving rise to this action occurred. Plaintiff names as Defendants: officers Tarkenton and Christian, and senior psychiatric technician John Sanzberro.

Plaintiff is a civil detainee, detained at Coalinga State Hospital in Coalinga, California. First Am. Compl. ("FAC") 2. Plaintiff has a hospital room. FAC 2. On March 18, 2008, officers Tarkenton and Christian entered his hospital room and searched his living area and locker. FAC 2. Plaintiff did not consent to the search. FAC 2. There was no warrant. FAC 2. Plaintiff contends that he has an expectation of privacy in his hospital room. FAC 3. Senior psychiatric technician John Sanzberro gave the officers the opportunity to search when he declared that he believed Plaintiff had other contraband in his property. FAC 3. Plaintiff's property was seized, which included his laptop and PlayStation Portable, a gaming device. FAC 11. Plaintiff contends a violation of the Fourth Amendment, the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I, sections 7(a), 13, and 19 of the California Constitution. Plaintiff requests as relief: declaratory relief, the return of all his property, punitive damages, reimbursement for any property destroyed, costs of suit, and a mandate that the DMH cease taking all property without a criminal warrant or pending legal proceeding, that DMH implement all rules and regulations in accordance with state law and the Administrative Procedures Act, and all employees to cease enforcement of all policy or procedure not in conformance with the Administrative Procedures Act.*fn1

III. Analysis

A. Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. The test of reasonableness requires balancing the need for the particular search against 5 the invasion of personal rights that search entails. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979). 6

"Courts must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the manner in which it is conducted, the 7 justification for initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted." Id. 8

Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to state a Fourth Amendment claim against Defendants

Tarkenton, Christian, and Sanzberro for unreasonable search and seizure. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Tarkenton and Christian searched Plaintiff's hospital room, entered unannounced, without consent, a warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion to conduct a ...


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