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Dillman v. Tuolumne County

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 24, 2014

MICHAEL DILLMAN, an individual, and, STEPHEN DILLMAN, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
TUOLUMNE COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of California; DEPUTY DAVID VASQUEZ, an individual, and DOES 1-25, inclusive, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. 72)

LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This case concerns the September 18, 2011 arrest of Plaintiffs Michael and Stephen Dillman for alleged "joyriding" and related offenses in connection with their use of a thirteen-foot aluminum fishing boat on Lake Donnell, in Tuolumne County. The Complaint was originally filed in the Superior Court for the County of Tuolumne on February 13, 2013, but was removed by Defendants on March 18, 2013 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) and 1446(a). Doc. 1. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on March 24, 2013 (Doc. 45), a third amended complaint on January 23, 2014 (Doc. 47), and a fourth amended complaint ("FAC") on May 14, 2014. The FAC names as defendants Tuolumne County (the "County") and Tuolumne County Sheriff's Deputy David Vasquez ("Vasquez") (collectively, the "Defendants"), among others.

The FAC's first cause of action, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section 1983"), alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' federal constitutional rights. The FAC also contains the following related state law claims:

• Violation of California's Bane Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1, against all Defendants (Second Cause of Action);
• Battery (Third Cause of Action);
• Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against Defendant Vasquez and "all individually named Defendants" (Fourth Cause of Action); and
• Negligence against Defendant Vasquez and "all individually named Defendants" (Fifth Cause of Action).

FAC at 8-14.

On May 27, 2014, the County moved to dismiss all of Plaintiffs' claims against it. Doc. 72. Plaintiffs filed an opposition on June 18, 2014 (Doc. 75), to which the County replied on June 20, 2014. For the reasons discussed below, the Court DISMISSES the FAC as against the County.

II. STANDARD OF DECISION

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 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 to the party opposing the motion, and resolves all doubts in the pleader's favor. Lazy Y. Ranch LTD v. Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, 588 (9th Cir. 2008).

To survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility for entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, 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." Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Thus, "bare assertions... amount[ing] to nothing more than a formulaic recitation of the elements'... are not entitled to be assumed true." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681. In practice, "a complaint... must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562. To the extent that the pleadings can be cured by the ...


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