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Jennings v. City of San Diego

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 9, 2013

CITY OF SAN DIEGO; COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; San Diego Police Chief WILLIAM LANSDOWNE; Assistance Chief BOYD LONG; Sergeant JAMES MILANO; and DOES 1-50, inclusive, Defendants.


M. JAMES LORENZ, District Judge.

On December 19, 2012, Plaintiff Stephanie Jennings commenced this action in the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of San Diego, against the County of San Diego, and the City of San Diego, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, Assistant Chief Boyd Long, Sergeant James Milano ("City Defendants") and Doe Defendants 1-50, inclusive. She alleges that all of the Defendants violated her civil rights by attacking and falsely arresting her with the intention of chilling her constitutional rights.

On February 8, 2013, Defendant City of San Diego removed this action to federal court. The City and County each move to dismiss one or more claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

The Court found these motions suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See CIV. L.R. 7.1(d.1). [Doc. #13.]


Plaintiff Jennings is a 51-year-old mother and community volunteer. (Compl. ¶ 1.) She alleges that on the evening of January 7, 2012, she and a group of other middle-aged women (the "Occupellas") congregated outside the San Diego Civic Center to "sing some songs about social issues to the tune of familiar songs." (Compl. ¶ 19.) A group of "Occupy San Diego" protestors marched from the Children's Park into the plaza in front of the center. (Compl. ¶ 21.) At this point, Plaintiff left the singing group and encountered Defendant Sergeant James Milano, who allegedly pushed her to the ground and directed two or three Doe Defendant police officers to arrest her. (Compl. ¶ 23.) She alleges that the Doe Defendant officers arrested her using excessive and unnecessary force. (Compl. ¶ 24.)

Defendant Milano and another Doe Defendant officer then drove Plaintiff to Las Colinas Detention Facility, where Plaintiff was placed in a holding cell with 8-10 other women. (Compl. ¶ 26.) She alleges that while in the cell, she notified Doe Defendant police officers and a Doe Defendant nurse that she was a recent kidney transplant recipient, had atrial fibrillation, and needed her medication. (Compl. ¶ 27.)

Plaintiff allegedly told officers she needed to take her anti-rejection medication between 9:00-10:00 p.m., but the officers did not give it to her even though it was in her purse, which was in their possession. ( Id. ) She also alleges that she developed an intense migraine and vomited inside the holding cell, at which point Doe Defendant officers began yelling at her rather than providing any medical care. ( Id. ) At about 2:00 a.m., Plaintiff's husband arrived at the detention facility and bailed her out, at which point she went home. (Compl. ¶ 29.)

In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges eleven causes of action.[1] The City Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's fifth claim for negligence only under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[2] [Doc. # 2.] The County of San Diego moves to dismiss all of Plaintiff's claims brought against it: intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligence; interference with federal and state constitutional rights; unlawful seizure, arrest, and detention under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; deliberate indifference to medical needs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 under Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); and violation of the Bane Act. [ Id. ]


The court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all allegations of material fact as true and construe them in light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cedars-Sanai Med. Ctr. v. Nat'l League of Postmasters of U.S., 497 F.3d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 2007). Material allegations, even if doubtful in fact, are assumed to be true. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). However, the court need not "necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc., 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court does not need to accept any legal conclusions as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement 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 (internal citations omitted). Instead, the allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Thus, "[t]o 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.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing 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. "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).


A. Municipal Liability at ...

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