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The Estate of Elkins v. California Highway Patrol

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 18, 2013

THE ESTATE OF CECIL ELKINS, JR., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING THAT DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS BE GRANTED ECF NO. 10 OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN FOURTEEN (14) DAYS

STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.

On October 7, 2013, Defendant California Highway Patrol ("CHP") filed a motion to dismiss. The motion was referred to the undersigned magistrate judge for findings and recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b).

Pursuant to Local Rule 540(d) and 230(g), the Court finds that this matter is appropriate for adjudication upon the record and brief on file and therefore vacates the hearing scheduled for November 20, 2013. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that CHP's motion to dismiss be granted.

I.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed the complaint in this action on September 12, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs named CHP, the County of Tulare, the Tulare County Sheriff's Department, the Tulare County Regional Gang Enforcement Team, and the City of Pixley as defendants ("Defendants"). Plaintiffs' claims arise from an incident where Cecil Elkins, Jr. was shot in the back and killed by unknown law enforcement officials.

On October 7, 2013, CHP filed a motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 10.) CHP argues that it is entitled to dismissal because CHP is immune from suit as a state agency under the Eleventh Amendment. Plaintiffs filed an opposition on November 6, 2013. (ECF No. 16.)

On November 12, 2013, the Court ordered the parties to submit additional briefing in light of the arguments raised in the motion to dismiss and the opposition. The Court asked Plaintiffs for authority in support of its argument that CHP is not a state agency within the meaning of the Eleventh Amendment because individual CHP officers cooperated with local law enforcement agencies. The Court asked Defendants for additional facts in support of its contention that CHP is a state agency within the meaning of the Eleventh Amendment.

On November 15, 2013, Plaintiffs withdrew their opposition to CHP's motion to dismiss and sought leave to amend their complaint accordingly. (ECF No. 18.) On November 15, 2013, CHP provided additional briefing on the issue of Eleventh Amendment immunity. (ECF No. 19.)

II.

LEGAL STANDARDS FOR MOTIONS TO DISMISS

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may file a motion to dismiss on the grounds that a complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." 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). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In assessing the sufficiency of a complaint, all well-pleaded factual allegations must be accepted as true. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678-79. However, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678.

III.

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