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Smith v. County of Santa Cruz

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

July 22, 2014

JACK SMITH, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ, et al., Defendants.


LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jack Smith ("Plaintiff") in his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") asserts three causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the County of Santa Cruz ("County") and 25 County employees (collectively, "Defendants"). See ECF No. 54. The Court previously granted a motion to dismiss filed by various Defendants, but granted Plaintiff leave to amend. See ECF No. 49. Defendants now move to dismiss or strike portions of the SAC. See ECF No. 57. The Motion is fully briefed. See ECF Nos. 58 ("MTD II"), 61, 62. The Court finds the matter suitable for decision without oral argument under Civil Local Rule 7-1(b) and VACATES the hearing set for July 24, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. The Case Management Conference set for that same time remains as scheduled. Having considered the briefing, the record in the instant case, and the applicable law, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.


A. Factual Background

Plaintiffs' allegations stem from four arrests of Plaintiff made by Defendants and Plaintiff's resulting confinement. SAC ¶¶ 3, 8, 9, 10, 11. Plaintiff's allegations related to each of these arrests are as follows:

• February 3, 2011: Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested "with no probable cause or even a reasonable suspicion, " and "unlawfully detained and arrested" by Defendants Baldridge, Hop, Hensen, Mitchell, and Harris. Id. ¶ 9.
• February 22, 2011: Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested "with no probable cause or even a reasonable suspicion" and "unlawfully detained and arrested" by Defendants Yaniz, Ross, Plageman, Parker, and Hanks. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff further alleges that during the course of this arrest, he was falsely imprisoned by the officers, who forced him to stand in the sun for seven hours "while they obtained a search warrant." Id. Plaintiff alleges specifically that during this time Defendant Ross "instructed the other officers present to refuse to provide [P]laintiff with shade or water." Id. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of these actions, he suffered "not only... the usual symptoms of heat prostration, but also his skin, which was infected with cancer, began to bleed." Id.
• June 21, 2011: Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested "with no probable cause or even a reasonable suspicion" and "unlawfully detained and arrested" by Defendants Ross, Smith, Clark, Taylor, and Barton. Id. ¶ 11.
• August 3, 2011: Plaintiff alleges that on this date he was arrested "with no probable cause or even a reasonable suspicion" and "unlawfully detained and arrested" by Defendants Cassingham, Hansen, Gazza, Ross, Yanez, Clark, Cragin, Medina, Ye, McPeek, Fairbanks, and Smith. Id. ¶ 11.

Plaintiff alleges generally that in conjunction with these arrests the acting officers "seized the personal property of the [P]laintiff and... have refused to return the items to the [P]laintiff." Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff does not specify during which arrests his property was seized, but states that "cash, medications, vehicles, personal papers, credit cards and computer equipment" were among the property taken from him. Id. ¶ 19.

Subsequent to his allegedly unlawful arrests, Plaintiff was imprisoned in the Santa Cruz County Jail. Plaintiff alleges that while he was imprisoned he suffered from health problems "including but not limited to heart trouble, kidney failure, strokes, edema, aortic aneurism, diabetes, hypertension, skin cancer and gout." Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff alleges that prior to going to County Jail, Plaintiff was treated by a physician at a Veteran's Affairs Medical Facility. The physician had prescribed Plaintiff medications to treat these medical issues. Id. Plaintiff alleges that when he was taken into the County Jail, he informed those in charge of his need for prescribed medications and of his health problems. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff alleges that various Defendants knew about Plaintiff's health problems, and "willfully and knowingly deprived Plaintiff of the necessary medications proscribed by his physician to alleviate several life-threatening conditions including cardiac and renal failure." Id. ¶ 15. According to the SAC, Plaintiff asked County Jail personnel to get him these medications and filed a grievance complaint asking for the medications on May 15, 2012. Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff alleges that he was imprisoned at the County Jail for five months, "where his physical condition continued to deteriorate due to [D]efendants' deliberate and knowing inaction and failure to provide him with necessary medical care for his serious illnesses." Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was finally released from the County Jail due to the severity of his medical conditions. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff claims that due to the deprivation of his medications, he suffered "serious setbacks to his health including edema causing him to be unable to walk, renal failure and other life threatening conditions." Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff further claims that a treating physician concluded that these deprivations shortened his life. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that after his release from the Santa Cruz County Jail, Judge Salazar of the Santa Cruz Superior Court "issued an order to the [County] Sheriff's Department to return personal property the defendants had seized from the [P]laintiff." Id. ¶ 19. Nevertheless, Plaintiff alleges that "[he] is still missing [cash], personal paperwork, medications, credit cards and computer equipment." Id.

After the above arrests and two additional arrests, Plaintiff was charged with various felony counts. MTD II, Exs. B, C, D, E, F.[1] The charges were as follows:

• One felony count of Possession or Ownership of Prohibited Ammunition related to the February 22, 2011 arrest. MTD II, Ex. B.
• Six felony counts of Possession and/or Transportation of a Controlled Substance and similar controlled substance charges related to a March 29, 2012 arrest. Id., Ex. C.
• One misdemeanor count of Court Order Disobedience, related to a violation on April 28, 2011. Id., Ex. D.
• One felony count of Possession of a Controlled Substance and two misdemeanor counts of Possession of Paraphernalia and CDL Suspended related to the June 21, 2011 arrest. Id. Ex., E.
• Seven counts of Possession and/or Sale of a Controlled Substance related to the August 3, 2011 arrest.

In response to these charges, Plaintiff entered pleas of nolo contendere to two charges of Possession and/or Sale of a Controlled Substance associated with his March 29, 2012 arrest, in exchange for the dismissal of all of his remaining charges. MTD II, Exs. B, C, D, E, F. As a result, the remaining charges associated with the February 22, 2011; June 21, 2011; and August 3, 2011 arrests were dismissed. MTD II, Exs. B, C, D, E, F. No charges related to Plaintiff's February 3, 2011 arrest appear to be associated with this plea agreement.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his complaint on February 11, 2013, and filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on April 26, 2013, at which point Defendants were served. ECF Nos. 1, 5. The FAC asserted the following causes of action: (1) eminent domain through illegal inverse condemnation under the state and federal constitutional claims; (2) slander and libel; (3) several allegations of false arrest and imprisonment; (4) two separate allegations of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, California Constitution, and California statute; (5) violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"); and (6) elder abuse in violation of California law. See ECF No. 27.

Several of the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the FAC with an accompanying request for judicial notice on May 28, 2013. ECF No. 10. The remaining Defendants joined the Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 18. On June 10, 2013, Plaintiff filed an opposition that contained redactions, ECF No. 20, and on June 18, 2013, Defendants filed a reply, ECF No. 24. On June 19, 2013, at a Case Management Conference, this Court discovered that the FAC had not been signed by either Plaintiff or his counsel.[2] Accordingly, the Court ordered Plaintiff to re-file the FAC with the verification by June 28, 2013. ECF No. 26. The Court's order stated that the verified FAC would replace the initially filed, unverified FAC and that "Plaintiff [was] not permitted to make any changes to the FAC beyond including the verifications." Id. Plaintiff filed the verified FAC, which included signatures of both Plaintiff and his counsel, on June 27, 2013. ECF No. 27. The Court further ordered Plaintiff to re-file the opposition to the Motion to Dismiss without the redactions contained in the original opposition by June 21, 2013, and to provide the Court and Defendants with the DVDs and exhibits that were attached to the initial opposition by June 24, 2013. ECF No. 26. On June 27, 2013, Plaintiff filed the opposition without the redactions, along with thirty-six exhibits. ECF No. 28. On July 1, 2013, Defendants filed objections to the verified FAC, the re-filed opposition, and the various attached exhibits. ECF No. 29. Defendants contended that the verified FAC contained various changes from the unverified version, that the opposition and exhibits were untimely filed, and that the exhibits could not be considered because Plaintiff did not seek judicial notice. Id. Therefore, Defendants moved to strike these improper documents. Plaintiff filed no opposition to the motion to strike.

This Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss on November 26, 2013, but granted Plaintiff leave to amend to cure the deficiencies. See ECF No. 34.[3] The Court found that Plaintiff had not adequately pleaded any of the federal causes of action: Fifth Amendment eminent domain, Fourth Amendment false arrest and imprisonment, Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment, and RICO. Id. at 7-10. Because Plaintiff did not satisfy the pleading requirements for any federal cause of action, the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and dismissed without prejudice the state causes of action. Id. at 10-11. The Court's order stated that "[s]hould Plaintiff elect to file a Second Amended Complaint curing the deficiencies identified herein, he shall do so within 21 days of the date of this order.... Failure to meet the 21-day deadline to file an amended complaint or failure to cure the deficiencies identified in this order will result in a dismissal with prejudice. Plaintiff may not add new causes of action or parties without leave of the Court or stipulation of the parties pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15." Id. at 11.

Plaintiff retained new counsel after the Court's November 26, 2013 order. See ECF No. 43. After requesting and receiving an extension on the deadline to amend the complaint, Plaintiff moved for leave to file a motion to reconsider the Court's November 26, 2013 order. See ECF No. 44. Plaintiff contended that the Court had made two errors in the November 26, 2013 order. First, Plaintiff contended that Court inappropriately construed Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claim as an eminent domain cause of action, rather than as a substantive due process cause of action. Id. at 5. Plaintiff further contended that this Court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's false arrest and imprisonment ...

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