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Walsh v. Sacramento

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 11, 2014

LILIYA WALSH, et al., Plaintiffs,
AMD SACRAMENTO, et al., Defendants.


KENDALL J. NEWMAN, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the court are defendants' motions to dismiss, all of which seek to dismiss plaintiffs' second amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (ECF Nos. 50, 51, 53, 57, 58.) Plaintiffs filed oppositions to all five motions to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 62, 63, 64, 65, 66.) All defendants filed replies in support of their respective motions. (ECF Nos. 67, 68, 71, 72, 73.)

Also before the court is defendant Rocklin Police Department's motion for sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, 28 U.S.C. § 1927, and the court's inherent authority. (ECF No. 60.) Plaintiffs filed an opposition to this motion, and Rocklin Police Department filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 74, 75.)

The court heard these matters on its September 4, 2014 law and motion calendar. Plaintiffs Liliya Walsh and Peter Walsh appeared on behalf of themselves. Attorney Alison Vitacolonna appeared on behalf of defendants Placer County and Telecare Placer Psychiatric Health Facility ("Telecare"). Attorney Andrew Caulfield appeared on behalf of defendants Rocklin Police Department and Jeff Paxton. Attorney Scott Kanter appeared telephonically on behalf of defendant American Medical Response ("AMR"). Attorney Sampson Elsbernd appeared on behalf of defendant Sutter Roseville Medical Center ("Sutter").

The undersigned has fully considered the parties' briefs, the parties' oral arguments, and appropriate portions of the record. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that defendants' motions to dismiss be granted. Furthermore, it is ordered that defendant Rocklin Police Department's motion for sanctions is denied without prejudice.

I. Background

The background facts are taken from plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint and documents incorporated into the Second Amended Complaint by reference.[1] (See ECF No. 48.) On or about September 21, 2012, plaintiff Liliya Walsh began to suffer from pain as a result of an infection that caused swelling in her jaw and throat. (Id. at ¶¶ 21, 23.) Liliya sought medical treatment for this condition from Dr. Levin. (Id. at ¶ 21.) On October 1, 2012, Liliya was prescribed Clindamycin HCL and hydrocodone-acetaminophen for the infection. (Id. at ¶ 22.) On October 5, 2012, while Liliya was at home, she suffered an adverse reaction to the prescribed pain medication. (Id. at ¶ 27.) While Liliya was having this reaction, she wrote a note to her husband, plaintiff Peter Walsh, "to let [him] know that codeine was not good for her." (Id.) Specifically, she wrote the following: "I love you all[.] Sorry for everything. I can't deal with this pain. Codeine is not good for me. It makes me [...] I had @ 8 tablets." (ECF No. 53-1, Exhibit A.) When Peter came home, he found Liliya in their bedroom unable to move. (ECF No. 48 at ¶ 28.) Peter then called the doctor, who advised that he call 911. (Id.)

Around 5:00 p.m. that evening, paramedics, who were employees of defendant AMR, arrived at plaintiffs' home to transport Liliya to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. (Id. at ¶ 29.) One of the paramedics asked Peter whether Liliya had attempted to commit suicide, Peter replied by saying, "No... she was trying to manage the pain." (Id.) Peter explained to the paramedics about Liliya's symptoms, the pain she was trying to manage, and that the medication she was prescribed was not successful at managing that pain. (Id.)

When the paramedics arrived on the scene, Liliya was unable to walk down the stairs of plaintiffs' home and required the paramedics' assistance getting downstairs. (Id. at ¶ 30.) Plaintiffs allege that the paramedics "negligently carried [Liliya] down [the stairs] without the use of a stretcher." (Id.) Plaintiffs further allege that the paramedics made "highly offensive and rude jokes in the presence of [plaintiffs]." (Id.) In particular, plaintiffs allege that the paramedics referred to other people they knew who could take more medication than Liliya did without suffering an adverse reaction and "intimated that alcohol or other drugs were involved to create [Liliya's] symptoms." (Id.)

After Liliya was placed in the ambulance, a paramedic began to ask her questions regarding whether she had combined alcohol with her medication. (Id.) Liliya was unable to verbally communicate her answers, which caused the paramedic to become frustrated with her. (Id. at ¶¶ 30-31.) The paramedic began to yell "profusely" at Liliya and made negative comments towards her "with implications that she was a bad mother" in the presence of her husband, children, and neighbors. (Id. at ¶¶ 31, 33.) During this questioning, the paramedic yelled at Liliya, "so you want a 5150?" which Liliya perceived as a threat. (Id. at ¶¶ 34-35.) During this time, Lilya overheard an AMR paramedic speaking to someone she believed was from the Rocklin Police Department about placing her on a 5150 hold. (Id. at ¶ 36.)

Officers from the Rocklin Police Department were dispatched to plaintiffs' house to conduct a welfare check on Liliya. (ECF No. 5, Exhibit 1 (Application for 72-hour Detention for Evaluation and Treatment of Liliya Walsh).) Officer Jeff Paxton of the Rocklin Police Department authorized an application to place Liliya into an involuntary 72-hour detention for evaluation and treatment pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5150. (Id.) The authorized application for the 5150 hold states that Liliya was found unconscious, that she had taken at least eight Hydrocodone pills, and that a "suicide note" was located "stating that [Liliya] loved her family was sorry." (Id.) This application was signed by Officer Paxton and directed that Liliya be held for 72 hours at a "designated mental health facility" for treatment and evaluation because the circumstances indicated that she was a danger to herself and others. (Id.) Plaintiffs allege that "Liliya was never read or provided the 5150 Miranda rights' by Officer Paxton." (ECF No. 48 at ¶97.) Plaintiffs also contend that the "suicide note" that the 5150 application referred to was the note written by Liliya "instruct[ing] her husband that codeine is not good for me.'" (Id. at ¶ 40.)

Liliya was transported by AMR employees in an ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. (Id. at ¶ 37.) During her time there, Liliya requested information from the staff regarding her rights as a patient, contact information for a patient rights advocate, and the application and authority upon which the 5150 hold was placed on her. (Id. at ¶¶ 38-40.) She was initially refused this information, but was later supplied with a fact sheet regarding 5150 holds, a sheet explaining patients' rights and responsibilities, and phone numbers of local patient rights advocates; however, the phone numbers she was provided were either incorrect or for advocates who were not available at that time. (Id. at ¶ 39.)

Plaintiffs allege that an unidentified nurse at Sutter "paid no attention to [Liliya's] medical needs or concerns" when the nurse stated that Liliya had no infection after Liliya requested treatment for her medical condition and "show[ed] the nurse the discharge excreting from [her] gums and salivary ducts." (Id. at ¶ 44.)

During the late night on October 5, 2012, and early morning on October 6, 2012, two unknown women came to Liliya and one of them told her that she would need to undergo surgery for her condition. (Id. at ¶ 45.) Liliya requested that both women provide their respective identities, employers, and positions; however, Lilya was only told by one of the women "that she worked for Placer County Medical Hospital." (Id.)

On October 6, 2012, another woman came to Liliya representing that she worked for Placer County Mental Hospital and that she was authorized to talk to Liliya. (Id. at ¶ 45.) The woman told Liliya that Liliya had no choice but to speak with her or be transported to a psychiatric facility. (Id.) Liliya's family had made arrangements for her to obtain medical attention elsewhere, but she was not permitted to leave emergency care to obtain care elsewhere. (Id. at ¶ 46.) Liliya also suffered an adverse reaction to the iodine used for her CT scan, causing nausea and uncontrollable vomiting. (Id.) Liliya requested a shower, but Sutter staff denied her request on the basis that there were no showers for patients' use in the emergency room and told her that "they would not accommodate her in any manner." (Id.)

Around 4:00 p.m. on October 6, 2012, an unidentified Sutter nurse told Liliya and Peter that Liliya would be transported to Heritage Hospital in the next hour and that Liliya had no choice but to go with the supplied transport. (Id. at ¶ 47.) Plaintiffs allege that "[t]he Sutter nurse assaulted [Liliya] with psychiatric medication to force compliance to go while Liliya was trying to reach a patient rights advocate on the phone." (Id.) The nurse "reluctantly backed off" after Liliya asked why the nurse was forcing medication upon her. (Id.) Peter "was sitting right next to Liliya and witnessed the entire event." (Id.)

Sutter staff promised plaintiffs that upon arrival at Heritage Hospital, Liliya would receive an evaluation by a psychiatrist to determine whether she would be permitted to go home, that such an evaluation should only take a few hours, and that she should be able to go home later that night. (Id. at ¶ 48.) Based on this representation, plaintiffs complied. (Id.) A few minutes prior to Liliya's departure, a Sutter nurse confirmed that Liliya would be going to Heritage Hospital and gave Peter an address and printed directions to that facility. (Id.)

During her transport, Liliya noticed that she was not heading towards Heritage Hospital and asked the ambulance driver why they were taking a different route; the driver responded by stating that the instructions were to take Liliya to Telecare Placer Psychiatric Health Facility. (Id. at ¶ 49.) Upon learning this information, Liliya "feared for her life and well-being, and felt like she was being kidnapped." (Id.)

Upon arriving at Telecare, Liliya was placed in a small, isolated room with no furniture. (Id. at ¶¶ 50-51.) During her stay at Telecare, Liliya met with a Telecare nurse named Carol. (Id. at ¶ 52.) Carol generally treated Liliya unprofessionally and, on one occasion, after Liliya asked when she would be able to see a psychiatrist for an evaluation, "Carol responded with anger and aggressively yelled in [Liliya's] face." (Id.) Plaintiffs allege that "Carol was so out of control that she was spitting in [Liliya's] face." (Id.) When Liliya asked for certain information regarding her rights as a patient, Carol refused to provide it. (Id. at ¶ 53, 56.) "There was no psychiatrist present at Telecare to conduct an evaluation on that Saturday" and when Liliya requested a list of other psychiatrists so that she could receive a more expedient evaluation, Carol refused to provide her with any such information. (Id. at ¶ 54.) Liliya also repeatedly requested that Carol allow her to call Peter to inform him of her location and for Telecare's address. (Id. at ¶ 57.) Carol eventually allowed plaintiff to call Peter, but refused to provide Telecare's address. (Id.) While Liliya was talking with Peter on the phone, she told him about Carol's actions, which caused Carol to force Liliya off of the phone and to deny Liliya later use of the phone. (Id. at ¶ 58.)

On October 7, 2012, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Liliya received an evaluation from Dr. Sargin. (Id. at ¶ 62.) "Upon conclusion of the evaluation, Dr. Sargin stated that he didn't see any basis for [Liliya's] detention and said that he was releasing her to go home." (Id.) Following this evaluation, plaintiff inquired with Telecare staff regarding her release, but was "told that Dr. Sargin was gone for the day" and "that no arrangements had been made for her release." (Id. at ¶ 63.) Liliya was finally released from Telecare and from the 5150 hold on the afternoon of October 8, 2012. (Id. at ¶ 64.)

Plaintiffs allege that the above events caused Liliya to suffer from "overwhelming mental, emotional, and physical suffering." (Id. at ¶ 66.) Plaintiffs further allege that Peter "suffered emotionally and physically, with troubles sleeping having to deal with his wife's involuntary confinement and panic he experienced when his wife disappeared for a period of several hours..., and when she was being forced with a psychotic medication...." (Id. at ¶ 67.)

Based on these factual allegations, plaintiffs assert the following eleven causes of action against defendants: (1) Liliya Walsh's Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Sutter, Telecare, Jeff Paxton, and Placer County; (2) Liliya Walsh's claim for false imprisonment against Sutter and Telecare; (3) Liliya Walsh's claim for battery against Sutter and Telecare; (4) Liliya Walsh's claim for assault against Sutter and Telecare; (5) Liliya Walsh's claim for negligence against AMR; (6) Liliya Walsh's and Peter Walsh's claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Rocklin Police Department, Sutter, Telecare, and Placer County; (7) Liliya Walsh's and Peter Walsh's claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress against Rocklin Police Department, Sutter, Telecare, and Placer County; (8) Liliya Walsh's claim for defamation against AMR, Rocklin Police Department, Telecare, and Sutter; (9) Liliya Walsh's claim for medical malpractice against Sutter, Telecare, and Placer County; (10) Liliya Walsh's claim for violations of California Welfare & Institutions Code section 5325 against Sutter, Placer County, and Telecare; and (11) Liliya Walsh's claim for violations of California Welfare & Institutions Code section 5326.2 against Sutter, Placer County, and Telecare.

Plaintiffs request relief in the form of compensatory and punitive damages against all defendants. Plaintiffs further request an order requiring defendants to remove "any and all references to suicide, suicide [sic] thoughts, attempts to harm herself, etc. from Liliya Walsh's medical records." (Id. at 22.) Finally plaintiffs request the following injunctive relief: (1) "an order compelling defendants to designate funds for patient rights advocacy and to make patient rights advocacy available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week"; (2) an order compelling Rocklin Police Department to undergo "5150" training; (3) "an order compelling... Telecare and Sutter to provide adequate training to its employees"; (4) "an order compelling... Sutter to provide independent full-time advocacy 24-hours a day/7 days a week"; and (5) an order compelling AMR to provide training to all of its paramedics that includes sensitivity training. (Id. at 22-23.)

II. Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings set forth in the complaint. Vega v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. , 654 F.Supp.2d 1104, 1109 (E.D. Cal. 2009). Under the "notice pleading" standard of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff's complaint must provide, in part, a "short and plain statement" of plaintiff's claims showing entitlement to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); see also Paulsen v. CNF, Inc. , 559 F.3d 1061, 1071 (9th Cir. 2009). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing 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." Id.

In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court accepts all of the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Corrie v. Caterpillar, Inc. , 503 F.3d 974, 977 (9th Cir. 2007). The court is "not, however, required to accept as true conclusory allegations that are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint, and [the court does] not necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Paulsen , 559 F.3d at 1071. The court must construe a pro se pleading liberally to determine if it states a claim and, prior to dismissal, tell a plaintiff of deficiencies in his complaint and give plaintiff an opportunity to cure them if it appears at all possible that the plaintiff can correct the defect. See Lopez v. Smith , 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc); accord Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990) (stating that "pro se pleadings are liberally ...

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