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Cupp v. Azzouni

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 12, 2014

RONALD VERNON CUPP, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK AZZOUNI, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS; VACATING MAY 23, 2014 HEARING

MAXINE M. CHESNEY, District Judge.

Before the Court are three motions to dismiss, filed, respectively, by defendant Scott Bachmann ("Bachmann") on April 9, 2014, defendant Superior Court for the State of California, County of Sonoma ("Superior Court") on April 10, 2014, and defendant Sara Delaney ("Delaney") on April 10, 2014. Defendants Mark Azzouni ("Azzouni") and City of Santa Rosa have joined in Delaney's motion. Plaintiff Ronald Vernon Cupp ("Cupp") has filed, along with a motion to strike, a single opposition addressing the three motions. Bachmann, the Superior Court, and Delaney have replied separately, and Azzouni and City of Santa Rosa have joined in Delaney's reply.

The Court, having read and considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motions, deems the matters suitable for determination on the parties' respective written submissions, VACATES the hearing scheduled for May 23, 2014, and rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

On January 23, 2013, Cupp was arrested by Azzouni, accompanied by Bachmann and Delaney, in front of his office in Rohnert Park, California. (See Compl. ¶¶ 16-18.) Cupp was thereafter transported to and held at the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office's Main Adult Detention Facility. (See id. ¶ 28.) On January 25, 2013, Cupp was brought to court to appear before a magistrate on criminal charges. (See id. ¶ 31.) The criminal case against him is still pending. (See id. ¶ 40.)

On December 12, 2013, Cupp filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. (See Delaney Request for Judicial Notice ("RJN") Ex. E.) In the Chapter 7 bankruptcy schedules he filed, Cupp did not list among his assets any legal claims. (See id. Ex. F at 6.) He received a discharge in bankruptcy on March 18, 2014. (See id. Ex. G.)[1]

On March 20, 2014, Cupp filed the instant complaint, in which he alleges his arrest was not made pursuant to a warrant (see id. ¶ 36), that he "was jailed without probable cause, without committing a crime" (see id. ¶ 33), and that he "was not taken immediately to a neutral judge for a probable cause hearing'" (see id.). Based thereon, he brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986, and 1988. He seeks $16 million in compensatory and punitive damages as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

Defendants now move to dismiss the complaint in its entirety pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing, inter alia, Cupp's claims for damages are barred by judicial estoppel and lack of standing, and that his claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are barred under Younger v. Harris , 401 U.S. 37 (1971).[2]

LEGAL STANDARD

Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Rule 8(a)(2), however, "requires only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Consequently, "a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations." See id. Nonetheless, "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." See id. (internal quotation, citation, and alteration omitted).

In analyzing a motion to dismiss, a district court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, and construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See NL Industries, Inc. v. Kaplan , 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual material, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 570). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[.]" Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. Courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." See Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation and citation omitted).

DISCUSSION

A. Judicial Estoppel/Standing

1. Judicial ...


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