United States District Court, C.D. California
Melody Kramer, Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs.
Allen Christiansen, Paul Burkhart, Attorneys Present for Defendants
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.
Proceedings: MOTION TO STAY PENDING OUTCOME OF STATE CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS (ECF No. 19, filed November 21, 2014), MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 20, filed November 21, 2014), MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 24, filed December 10, 2014), MOTION FOR SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATION OF FRCP RULE 11 (ECF No. 29, filed December 15, 2014)
This case arises out of alleged civil rights violations by law enforcement officers in Murrieta, California. On September 26, 2014, plaintiffs David Alan Dortch ("Dortch"), David A. Dortch, O.D., A California Professional Optometric Corporation dba Spectrum Vision Center ("Spectrum"), Kimberly Dawn Dortch, Maycie Dortch, and Z.D., a minor by his parents/guardians David and Kim Dortch (collectively, the "Dortches"), filed a complaint against Markellus Reid, Murrieta Police Department ("MPD"), City of Murrieta (the "City"), Brendan Carney (collectively, the "Murrieta defendants"), and Does 1 through 100. See ECF No. 2.
On November 12, 2014, the Murrieta defendants filed a motion to dismiss and strike punitive damages or, in the alternative, to stay pending the outcome of state criminal proceedings. ECF No. 13. Two days later, the Dortches timely filed a First Amended Complaint (the "FAC"), rendering the motion moot. See ECF Nos. 16, 17. The FAC added Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach as a defendant.
On November 21, 2014, the Murrieta defendants filed a second motion to stay and another motion to dismiss and strike punitive damages. See ECF Nos. 19, 20. On November 26, 2014, the Dortches filed a Corrected First Amended Complaint. ECF No. 22. On December 10, 2014, Zellerbach filed a motion to dismiss. ECF No. 24. On December 15, 2014, the Murrieta defendants filed a motion for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11. ECF No. 29.
On December 22, 2014, the Dortches filed oppositions to the four outstanding motions. ECF Nos. 33-36. On December 24, 2014, the Murrieta defendants filed reply briefs in support of their three motions. ECF Nos. 38-40. On December 29, 2014, Zellerbach filed a reply brief in support of his motion to dismiss. ECF No. 41. On January 12, 2015, the Court held a hearing on the aforementioned motions. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
A. Factual Allegations
The Dortches allege that on or about March 14, 2013, Z.D., a minor, was arrested and interrogated by officers of the MPD, outside the presence of his parents and without access to a lawyer. FAC ¶ 22. The Dortches aver that statements unlawfully obtained from the interrogation of Z.D. were subsequently used as the basis for Carney to obtain a search warrant to search the Dortches home. Id. ¶ 23. On April 20, 2013, Carney and other law enforcement officers entered the Dortches' home in Murrieta, California, and conducted a search lasting approximately 7.5 hours. Id. ¶¶ 24-25. During the search, Dortch, two of the Dortches' minor children, 17-year-old Maycie and 12-year-old Z.D., as well as a third party were detained and not free to leave the premises. Id. ¶ 25. For a majority of the time the search was ongoing, Dortch was handcuffed to a chair. Id.
The Dortches allege that during the April 20, 2013 search, Dortch was questioned under false pretenses and without received Miranda warnings and Z.D. was re-arrested for the same crime he had been arrested for a month earlier. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. The Dortches allege that Carney prepared multiple incident reports relating to the April 20, 2013 search which contain materially false and misleading information about the search. Id. ¶¶ 29-30.
On or about May 29, 2013, the Dortches filed a civil lawsuit challenging the propriety of the Murrieta defendants' conduct related to the April 20, 2013 search. Id. ¶ 31.
The Dortches allege that on or about June 12, 2013, defendant Reid sent an e-mail to employees of the City about Dortch and his business, Spectrum, containing false statements about Dortch and falsely claiming that Dortch, his family, and Spectrum posed a safety concern to all City personnel who may be current or future clients. Id. ¶¶ 20, 32.
The Dortches allege that on or about October 23, 2013, Carney prepared a new incident report about the April 20, 2013 search. Id. ¶ 33. The second report differed from the first in some material respects, including the identification of the officers who conducted the search. Id. On November 1, 2013, Carney arrested Dortch outside City limits without a warrant. Id. ¶ 34. Dortch was arrested under a charge of felony manufacture of a controlled substance-dimethyltryptamine or DMT-in violation of California Health & Safety Code § 11379.6(a). Id. ¶ 35. Upon his arrest, Dortch refused to be subjected to a DNA test, for which he was charged with a second criminal offense. Id. ¶ 36. ...