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E.S. v. City of Visalia

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 4, 2014

E.S., a minor, by and through her guardian ad litem, VALINE GONZALEZ, , Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF VISALIA; and Does 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT (Doc. 29)

LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This civil rights lawsuit arises from a fatal shooting involving members of the City of Visalia's Police Department and decedent Armando Santibanez ("Mr. Santibanez"). Maria Moreno ("Ms. Moreno"), Mr. Santibanez's mother, and his children, minors E.S. and J.F., filed suit in this court against the City of Visalia ("City") and Does 1-10 (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiffs allege civil rights, false arrest/false imprisonment, and wrongful death claims. Pending before the Court is the City's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES the City's motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts[1]

Plaintiffs allege that on Friday, February 8, 2013, at approximately 3:55 p.m. police officers for the City initiated a traffic stop of Mr. Santibanez's vehicle. The traffic stop occurred on South Pinkham Street and Beech Avenue in Visalia, California. Plaintiffs allege that an officer stopped Mr. Santibanez's car and then fired five shots through the window, which resulted in Mr. Santibanez's death. At the time of the shooting Mr. Santibanez did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone. Plaintiffs further allege that after Mr. Santibanez was shot, Defendants did not summon medical care in a timely manner or permit medical personnel to administer treatment despite the fact that Mr. Santibanez was immobile, bleeding profusely, and in obvious need of emergency medical care and treatment.

B. Procedural Background

On October 21, 2013, Mr. Santibanez's mother and two minor children filed this civil rights action against the City and Does 1-10. Does 1-5 are identified as police officers for the City, Does 6-8 are identified as supervisorial officers for the City's police department, and Does 9-10 are identified as managerial, supervisorial, and policymaking employees of the City's police department.

On December 27, 2013 Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint in which they alleged claims for: (1) Fourth Amendment wrongful detention and arrest; (2) Fourth Amendment excessive force; (3) Fourth Amendment denial of medical care; (4) substantive due process; (5) Monell [2] liability; (6) false arrest/false imprisonment; (7) battery (wrongful death); and (8) negligence (wrongful death). On March 3, 2014, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' fifth, sixth, and eighth causes of action for failure to state a claim.

On March 24, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint ("the SAC") in which they allege the same claims as those contained in the first amended complaint.[3] Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' fifth and sixth causes of action.

Defendants assert Plaintiffs' Monell claim contains nothing but conclusory arguments unsubstantiated with facts. Defendants assert Plaintiffs fail to state a claim for false arrest/false imprisonment because Plaintiffs only allege Mr. Santibanez was confined for "several moments" and "an appreciable length of time passed, " which Defendants maintain is insufficient to state a claim. Doc. 29-1 (quoting Doc. 28 at 7).

Plaintiffs filed an opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss on May 27, 2014. For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' fifth and sixth causes of action.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is a challenge to the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the complaint. A Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper where there is either a "lack of a cognizable legal theory" or "the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balisteri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court generally accepts as true the allegations in the complaint, construes the pleading in the light most favorable ...


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