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Johnson v. Santa Clara County

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

December 19, 2014




This action arises out of an alleged medical misdiagnosis. The Court has previously granted Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Dismissal Order, ECF 57. In that Order, the Court gave Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, clear instruction as to how she could amend her complaint in order to show compliance with the California Government Tort Claims Act. See id. at 5.

Following amendment, Defendant once again moved to dismiss. The Court deems this motion suitable for adjudication without oral argument, pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). Because Plaintiff has made no attempt to plead compliance with the Tort Claims Act, and because further amendment would be futile, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss, WITH PREJUDICE.


Plaintiff contends that she was a patient at the Moorpark Clinic, a county hospital, from 2000 until 2009. See First Amended Complaint ("FAC") at 1. At some point during that period of time - it is unclear exactly when from the face of Plaintiff's FAC - she contends that she was informed by her doctor, Kevin Nguyen, that she had tested positive for Hepatitis C. Id.

In 2009, Plaintiff moved to Arkansas, and alleges that on November 19, 2012, she tested negative for Hepatitis C. Id. at 1-2. She obtained three further blood tests in 2014, all of which she claims confirm that she did not have Hepatitis C. She contends that the Moorpark Clinic's misdiagnosis harmed her from 2000 until 2012 in several ways:

I had to adjust my life, my children[s] li[ves], my self esteem and constant fear of infecting others, the emotional stress and mental state of mind, a relationship completely destroyed[.] 13 years taken, I slept alone because of a mistake by the Moorpark Clinic Lab.

Id. at 2.


A. Rule 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) concerns what facts a plaintiff must plead on the face of her claim. Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Any complaint that does not meet this requirement can be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). In interpreting Rule 8(a)'s "short and plain statement" requirement, the Supreme Court has held that a plaintiff must plead "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), which requires that "the plaintiff plead 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). This standard does not ask a plaintiff to plead facts that suggest she will probably prevail, but rather "it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court must "accept factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519, F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). The Court is not, however, forced to "assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Kane v. Chobani, Inc., 973 F.Supp.2d 1120, 1127 (N.D. Cal. 2014).

The Court should liberally construe the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs. See, e.g., Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.3d 696 (9th Cir. 1988). Pro se plaintiffs "must follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants, " Brown v. Rumsfeld, 211 F.R.D. 601, 605 (N.D. Cal. 2002), but the Court "has a duty to ensure that pro se litigants do not lose their right to a hearing on the merits of their claim due to ignorance of technical procedural requirements." Balistreri, 901 F.3d 696, 699 (noting that this rings particularly true "where civil rights claims are involved").[1]

B. Leave to Amend

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a court should grant leave to amend a complaint "when justice so requires, " because "the purpose of Rule 15... [is] to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities." Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). The Court may deny leave to amend, however, for a number of reasons, including "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing ...

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