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Daniel v. Richards

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 18, 2014

JOSEPH RICHARDS, et al., Defendants.

ORDER Re: Dkt. Nos. 78, 79

VINCE CHHABRIA, District Judge.

This case stems from the arrest and subsequent detention of Plaintiff George Daniel. Daniel alleges that the Santa Rosa Junior College police officers who arrested him, as well as the officers of the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility, where he was detained, violated his civil rights. Based on these alleged violations, Daniel brings claims under Title 42, United States Code, Sections 1983, 1985, and 1986. On May 9, 2014, Santa Rosa Junior College officers Joseph Richards and Brittany Hawks ("the SRJC defendants") moved to dismiss and strike portions of Daniel's second amended complaint. On May 15, 2014, Sheriff Steve Freitas, Assistant Sheriff Randall Walker, and the County of Sonoma ("the County defendants") also moved to dismiss the second amended complaint. Both motions are granted in part and denied in part.


A. County Defendants' Request for Reconsideration

Judge White denied the County defendants' previous motion to dismiss Daniel's Monell claim based on alleged violations of his Fourth Amendment rights in the detention facility. ( See Docket No. 53). He also permitted Daniel to proceed on his Fourth Amendment claims against Freitas and Walker in their individual as well as official capacities. ( See id. ). The County defendants urge this Court to reconsider Judge White's rulings. They did not, however, seek leave to file a motion for reconsideration as required by Local Rule 7-9(a). Nor did they identify "a material difference in fact or law from that which was presented to the Court" in their first motion to dismiss, "new material facts or a change of law" that occurred since the order on that motion was issued, or a "manifest failure by the Court to consider material facts or dispositive legal arguments which were presented to" it in the first motion. See Local Rule 7-9(b). Rather, the County defendants merely repeat the arguments presented in their first motion to dismiss. Under these circumstances, the Court declines to reconsider Judge White's ruling.

The County defendants also argue that Judge White, in his order, must have held that Freitas and Walker could not be sued in their individual capacities. (County Mot. Dismiss 7). To the contrary, Judge White's order held, without qualification, that "the County's motion to dismiss as to Freitas and Walker is denied." (Docket No. 53, at 11). Judge White's conclusion that Daniel could proceed "against the County, Freitas, Walker, and Richards and Hawks in their individual capacity, " ( id. at 16), was based on his holding that Richard and Hawks, as state officials, were immune from suit in their official capacity under the Eleventh Amendment and therefore could only be sued in their individual capacities. ( See id. at 12). Judge White's ruling did not limit Daniel's ability to sue Freitas and Walker.

To be clear, Daniel may sue Freitas and Walker in their individual capacities for violations of his Fourth Amendment rights that took place while he was detained, so long as those violations-and Freitas and Walker's involvement in them-are sufficiently alleged. A supervisor may be held individually liable for a constitutional violation not only where the supervisor was "personally involved in the constitutional deprivation, " but also where "there is a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor's wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation." Crowley v. Bannister, 734 F.3d 967, 977 (9th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). Daniel alleges that Freitas, as Sheriff, and Walker, as manager of the detention facility, propagated a policy of "tortur[ing] prisoners when they do not cooperate." ( See, e.g., SAC ¶ 203). Since Judge White has already found that Daniel sufficiently alleged such a policy, Daniel may proceed against Freitas and Walker in their individual (and official) capacities for implementing it. See Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989) ("Supervisory liability exists even without overt personal participation in the offensive act if supervisory officials implement a policy so deficient that the policy itself is a repudiation of constitutional rights and is the moving force of the constitutional violation." (internal quotation marks omitted)).

B. Section 1985 and 1986 Claims

Daniel claims that the SRJC defendants and the County defendants, in addition to actually violating his civil rights during his arrest and detention, unlawfully conspired to violate those rights. ( See Second Am. Compl. ("SAC") ¶¶ 155-56). But Daniel does not allege the defendants were "motivated by some racial, or... otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus." See Sever v. Alaska Pulp Corp., 978 F.2d 1529, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992). Nor does he allege facts that would make plausible the claim that there was "an agreement or meeting of the minds" among the defendants to violate his constitutional rights. See Crowe v. County of San Diego, 608 F.3d 406, 440 (9th Cir. 2010). He therefore does not state a claim for conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985. And because the conspiracy claim fails, so too does Daniel's claim that the defendants unlawfully failed to intervene to prevent a conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1986. See Dooley v. Reiss, 736 F.2d 1392, 1396 (9th Cir. 1984) ("Because plaintiffs failed to state a claim under section 1985(2), the district court also properly dismissed the claim under section 1986.").

C. Fifth Amendment Claim

Daniel does not allege a plausible Fifth Amendment claim. To the extent he seeks to base such a claim on a violation of his equal protection or due process rights, it fails because the defendants are not federal officers. See Bingue v. Prunchak, 512 F.3d 1169, 1174 (9th Cir. 2008). Any equal protection or due process violations, therefore, would fall under the Fourteenth, not the Fifth Amendment. To the extent Daniel alleges a Fifth Amendment violation based on the defendants' alleged failure to read him his Miranda rights, the claim fails because Daniel was not subject to interrogation, so Miranda does not apply. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966) (holding that "the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination" (emphasis added)). Daniel's Fifth Amendment claim is therefore dismissed.

D. Fourteenth Amendment Claims

1. Equal Protection

Daniel alleges that by arresting him, the SRJC defendants deprived him of equal protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Daniel does not allege he was subject to discrimination based on membership in a protected class. Rather, he appears to assert a "class of one" claim-a claim that he was treated differently than others similarly situated to him. See N. Pacifica LLC v. City of Pacifica, 526 F.3d 478 (9th Cir. 2008). He contends that "[o]ther people who are similarly situated and are seen travelling by bicycle at night are not molested, accosted, detained and arrested by police officers and agencies." (SAC ¶ 169). This contention is conclusory. Daniel does not plead any facts that would demonstrate that other bicyclists who were not arrested were, in fact, similarly situated to him. See, e.g., Todd v. Briesenick, No. 13-CV-0753 (KJM) (KJN), 2013 WL 2151658, at *5 (E.D. Cal. May 16, 2013) (granting motion to dismiss where "plaintiff [did] not provide specific facts, beyond mere speculation, supporting his claims that defendants treated him differently from similarly situated persons"); Nails v. Haid, No. 12-CV-0439 (GW) (SS), 2013 WL 5230689. at *5 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 17, 2013) ("[A] claim that other law-abiding persons were not subject to unlawful treatment does not state a class of one equal protection claim." (internal quotation marks omitted)); McDonald v. Vill. of Winnetka, 371 F.3d 992, 1009 (7th Cir. 2004) ("[T]he purpose of entertaining a class of one' equal protection claim is not to constitutionalize all tort law.... Therefore, we believe a meaningful application of the similarly situated' requirement is ...

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