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Said v. County of San Diego

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 15, 2013



GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and motion to strike request for punitive damages pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). Plaintiff filed an opposition and Defendants filed a reply. In their reply, Defendants filed motion to strike Exhibit 2 to Plaintiffs' opposition. The motions are submitted on the papers without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Based on the briefs and applicable law, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss; DENIES Defendants' motion to strike request for punitive damages; and GRANTS Defendants' motion to strike Exhibit 2 to Plaintiffs' opposition.


On October 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights complaint against County of San Diego, Deputy Sheriff Patrick Lopatowsky, Deputy Sheriff Brian Butcher, and Deputy Sheriff Scott Lee (erroneously named as Lee Scott). (Dkt. No. 1.) According to the Complaint, on January 24, 2012, Plaintiff was at his home with his two children when he heard knocking on his door. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl. §§ 9-11.) When he opened the door, Plaintiff saw the three named Sheriff Deputies who told him to go inside. (Id. § 11.) As he went inside, the deputies followed Plaintiff inside without Plaintiff's consent, or a valid search or arrest warrant. (Id. § 11.) When the deputies asked what the trouble was with his wife, Plaintiff explained she was having problems with drugs and she presented a danger to his kids. (Id. § 12.) "Without notice, one of the deputies said why are you causing a problem with your wife and the deputies proceeded to hold one arms each and held my arms behind my back and the yelling for no reason." (Id. § 13.) One deputy, who was holding the right arm, pulled it so hard that Plaintiff's right elbow was dislocated. (Id. § 14.) The deputies placed Plaintiff under arrest with handcuffs. (Id.) Plaintiff was in great and excruciating pain. (Id.) The deputies proceeded to bring Plaintiff down the street barefooted where his wife was. (Id. § 15.) Later that day, an ambulance arrived and transported him to the hospital to get treated. (Id. § 16.)

Deputies brought Plaintiff's wife back to the house where the kids and Plaintiff live. (Id. § 17.) Plaintiff was pleading and warning the deputies that the children will be in danger with his wife around because of her drug abuse problem but they would not listen. (Id.)

At the time of the filing of the complaint, Plaintiff was still getting treated for his dislocated shoulder[1] and other injuries to his body. (Id. § 21.) He also intends to seek psychological help in the near future. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Deputy Defendants falsified their police reports. (Id. § 22.)


A. Legal Standard on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't. , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the plaintiff is required only to set forth a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " and "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

A complaint may survive a motion to dismiss only if, taking all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, it contains enough facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___ , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id . "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id . "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv. , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (quotations omitted). In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court accepts as true all facts alleged in the complaint, and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. al- Kidd v. Ashcroft , 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009).

In ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a Court may consider exhibits attached to the complaint, matters subject to judicial notice, or documents necessarily relied on by the complaint whose authenticity no party questions. See Swartz v. KPMG LLP , 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007); Lee v. City of Los Angeles , 250 F.3d 668, 688-689 (9th Cir. 2001); United States v. Ritchie , 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir.2003) ("A court may, however, consider certain materials-documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice-without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment.").

Both parties attach documents in support of their positions. Defendants filed a request for judicial notice of court records of the Superior Court of California in the case of People v. Said, case no. C 291668 01. While Plaintiff does not oppose the request for judicial notice, the Court DENIES Defendants' request for judicial notice as the documents were not relied upon for purposes of this motion. In opposition, Plaintiff also attaches documents and improperly argues the merits of his case rather than demonstrate that the complaint alleges facts to support the causes of action. On a motion to dismiss, the Court's role is to focus on the sufficiency of the a claim rather than the claim's substantive merits. Accordingly, the Court declines to consider the documents attached to Plaintiff's opposition.

B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Defendants argue that the allegations in the complaint fail to meet the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and 12(b)(6) as all the facts pled are "common" allegations, comprised of unsupported legal confusion and formulaic recitals of the elements of a cause of action. Defendants argue that the § 1983 claim is devoid of factual support, vague and conclusory that is it impossible for the Deputy Defendants to respond to the charges. In opposition, Plaintiff fails to address Defendants' arguments and fails to demonstrate that the § ...

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