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Garlick v. County of Kern

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 27, 2014

TARA GARLICK, et al., Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF KERN, et al., Defendants.


LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.


Plaintiffs bring this suit against the County of Kern ("the County"), Donny Youngblood ("Mr. Youngblood"), Douglas Sword ("Mr. Sword"), Ryan Greer ("Mr. Greer"), Tanner Miller ("Mr. Miller"), Jeffrey Kelley ("Mr. Kelley"), Luis Almanza ("Mr. Almanza"), Brian Brock ("Mr. Brock"), David Stephens ("Mr. Stephens"), Michael Phillips ("Mr. Phillips"), Michael Bright ("Mr. Bright"), and Does 1-10, inclusive (collectively, "Defendants"[1]) related to the death of David Silva ("Mr. Silva"), the boyfriend of Plaintiff Tara Garlick, the father of the minor Plaintiffs, and the son of Plaintiffs Merri and Salvador Silva. Doc. 55, First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), at 3. Plaintiffs allege seven causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§ 1983") on the ground the Defendants violated Mr. Silva's constitutional rights. Plaintiffs also allege causes of action for false arrest/false imprisonment, battery (wrongful death), negligence (wrongful death), and violation of California Civil Code § 52.1 ("§ 52.1"). Id. at 1.

For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' motions to dismiss.


Plaintiffs allege that at approximately 11:00P.M. on May 7, 2013, Mr. Silva was found asleep on the front lawn of a house across the street from the Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, California. FAC at 6. Phillips and Bright arrived at the scene and one or both of them awakened Mr. Silva with a "knuckle-rub" on his chest. Id. At the time, Mr. Silva was unarmed and did not have a weapon or anything that resembled a weapon. Id. Despite this, the rest of the officer-Defendants "converged" on Mr. Silva and began to beat him. Id. The officers used their batons, fists, boots, and a police dog to batter Mr. Silva. Id. During the beating, some of the officers placed Mr. Silva in restraints including handcuffs, hobble restraints or other restraints. Id. Mr. Silva "cried out in pain and begged for mercy." Id. "Before, during, and after the beating, [Mr. Silva] was in obvious and critical need of emergency medical care and treatment." Id. at 7.

Plaintiffs assert eleven causes of action for: (1) unlawful detention and arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (3) denial of medical care in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (4) violation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment; (5) Monell liability; (6) conspiracy to interfere with civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 ("§ 1985"); (7) civil conspiracy under § 1985; (8) false arrest/false imprisonment; (9) battery; (10) negligence; and (11) violation of § 52.1. Id. at 1.

Defendants move to dismiss ten of Plaintiffs' eleven causes of action under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the ground they fail to state a claim for relief. Docs. 59, 63. The Youngblood Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for their pain and suffering and that of Mr. Silva. Doc. 63 at 13-14. Further, the Sword Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' fourth cause of action on the ground that she cannot assert the claim as a matter of law.[3] Doc. 59-1 at 16.


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 allegation of additional facts, the plaintiff should be afforded leave to amend. Cook, Perkiss and Liehe, Inc. v. Northern California Collection Serv. Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted).


A. Plaintiffs' Causes of Action as to ...

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