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Haynes v. Hanson

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

August 30, 2013

CHRISTIAN HANSON, et al., Defendants.


JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Defendants Christian Hanson and Moseh P. Oberstein (the "Moving Defendants"[1]) have moved to dismiss Plaintiff Gregory M. Haynes' ("Plaintiff") First Amended Complaint, and to strike Plaintiff's prayer for punitive damages. ECF No. 58. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b) and Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds the matter suitable for disposition without oral argument, and hereby VACATES the hearing currently scheduled for September 5, 2013.


A. Factual History

Plaintiff, an attorney, represented plaintiffs bringing a civil rights action against the City of San Francisco ("the City") and certain municipal officials in 2008 and 2009. Landry v. City and County of San Francisco, Case No. 3:08-cv-3791-SC, ECF No. 1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 7, 2008).[2] On October 8, 2009, Plaintiff attended a hearing before Magistrate Judge Marie-Elena James to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for failing to comply with court orders and discovery requests in that case. Id., ECF Nos. 61, 70-71.

For purposes of this motion to dismiss, the court assumes the following facts, pursuant to the allegations of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC").[3] On the date of the hearing, Daniel Zaheer, an attorney representing the City, falsely reported to Judge James' courtroom deputy Brenda Tolbert Plaintiff had assaulted him. FAC, 2:3-4. Tolbert sought out Defendant Christian Hanson, who detained Plaintiff. Id., 2:9. Defendant Hanson, aided by courtroom security officers including Defendant Oberstein, continued to detain Plaintiff despite the fact that it "was immediately apparent that there was no assault." Id., 2:11-12. "The detention last[ed] in excess of 30 minutes." Id., 5:30-31.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed an initial complaint in October 2011, naming as defendants courtroom deputy Tolbert, Defendants Hanson and Oberstein, courtroom security officers Philip Coughlin and "Doe" Almaraz, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and Deputy City Attorneys Joanne Hoeper and Daniel Zaheer.[4] "Initial Complaint, " ECF No. 1, at 1:16-22. The Initial Complaint brought three causes of action: unreasonable detention and seizure under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, violation of the First Amendment and Due Process Clause, and "injunctive relief." Id., 4:3-7:8. The Court granted separate motions to dismiss in April 2013. Order Granting Motions to Dismiss ("Previous Order"), ECF No. 55. The Court dismissed all claims against Defendants Herrera, Hoeper and Zaheer with prejudice since they are barred by res judicata. Id., 5:12-8:6. The Court dismissed all claims against Defendant Tolbert with prejudice since they are barred by quasi-judicial immunity, and because Plaintiff could not allege facts consistent with his submissions stating a claim against her for unreasonable detention. Since the Initial Complaint also failed to state a claim against Defendants Hanson, Coughlin, Oberstein and Almaraz, the Court dismissed those claims without prejudice. Finally, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to "allege sufficient facts to establish that he has viable claims against" those defendants. Id., 13:26-28.

Plaintiff timely filed an amended complaint, naming as defendants Defendants Hanson Oberstein, Almaraz, and Coughlin, as well as San Francisco Police Department officer Daniel Mahoney. FAC, 1:21-30. The FAC brings a cause of action for unreasonable detention and seizure against Defendants Hanson, Almaraz, Coughlin and Oberstein, a claim of excessive force against Defendant Almaraz, a First Amendment claim against Defendant Almaraz, and a First Amendement and Due Process Clause claim against Defendant Mahoney. The U.S. Attorney filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of Defendants Hanson, Almaraz, Coughlin and Oberstein. Defendant Mahoney has not appeared in this action, and it does not appear that he has been served.

Subsequently, the U.S. Attorney's Office informed the Court that it had not actually received authorization from Defendant Almaraz to represent him in this action. ECF No. 72. The Court held a hearing on the matter (at which Plaintiff failed to appear), and construed all motions brought by the U.S. Attorney as having been brought on behalf of federal defendants other Defendant Almaraz. ECF No. 80. The Court also dismissed all claims against Phillip Coughlin pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Produre since Plaintiff has repeatedly failed to validly serve him. ECF No. 79.

The net effect of this is that the Court construes the instant motion as being brought only on behalf of Defendants Hanson and Oberstein, and only against the single cause of action Plaintiff alleges against those defendants: unreasonable seizure.

C. Jurisdiction

Since Plaintiff's causes of action arise under the United States Constitution, this Court has subject-matter ...

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