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R.R. v. City of Banning

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 2, 2015



CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.



The present action arises out of the death of Richard Rodriguez II ("decedent"), who was shot and killed by Officer Everett Babcock ("Officer Babcock"), a peace officer for the City of Banning, California, on October 26, 2013. On July 11, 2014, plaintiffs R.R. III, R.R., R.R., minors, through their guardian ad litem, Lonie Patino, plaintiff Gloria Rodriguez, in her individual capacity and as successor in interest to decedent, Richard Rodriguez, and Maria Rodriguez (collectively, "plaintiffs") filed suit against the City of Banning and Does 1-10. Dkt. 1. On November 13, 2014, plaintiffs filed the operative first amended complaint ("FAC"), adding Officer Babcock as a named defendant. Dkt. 21. The FAC asserts the following claims: (1) unreasonable search and seizure - detention and arrest, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) unreasonable search and seizure - excessive force, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) unreasonable search and seizure - denial of medical care, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) interference with familial relationship, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (5) municipal liability - ratification, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (6) municipal liability - inadequate training, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (7) municipal liability - unconstitutional custom, practice, or policy, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (8) false arrest/false imprisonment; (9) battery (wrongful death); (10) negligence (wrongful death); and (11) violation of the Bane Act, Cal. Civil Code § 52.1. Id.

On December 12, 2014, defendant/counter-claimant Officer Babcock filed an answer to plaintiffs' FAC, dkt. 27, and also filed a counterclaim ("CC") against plaintiff/counter-defendant Gloria Rodriguez in her capacity as successor in interest to decedent, dkt. 28. Officer Babcock asserts the following counterclaims: (1) assault; (2) battery; (3) negligence; (4) negligence per se; (5) contribution and indemnification; and (6) comparative liability. Dkt. 28.

On January 2, 2015, plaintiff/counter-defendant Rodriguez filed the instant motion to dismiss defendant/counter-claimant Officer Babcock's counterclaims. Dkt. 31. Officer Babcock opposed the motion on January 15, 2015, and Rodriguez did not file a reply.[1] The Court held a hearing on February 9, 2015. At that time, defendant/counter-claimant Officer Babcock requested leave to file supplemental briefing regarding the statute of limitations. The Court granted Officer Babcock's request. The Court is in receipt of the parties' supplemental briefing. Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.


Plaintiffs allege that, on October 16, 2013, at approximately 6:30 p.m., Officer Babcock responded to a call regarding a man knocking on motel room doors at the Holiday Inn Express located in Banning, California. FAC ¶ 34. When Officer Babcock arrived at the motel, he approached decedent in an elevator and attempted to search him. Id . Decedent subsequently ran from Officer Babcock, who gave chase and tackled decedent to the ground. Id . Plaintiffs allege that Officer Babcock discharged his firearm twice while he was on top of decedent, and that decedent sustained one fatal gunshot wound to the head. Id . Decedent subsequently died at the scene of the incident. Id . ¶ 35.

In his counterclaim, Officer Babcock alleges that he was summoned to the Holiday Inn Express by the motel clerk and, when he arrived ten minutes later, the clerk described decedent as the individual who was knocking on motel room doors. CC ¶ 6. The clerk directed Officer Babcock to decedent's location, and Officer Babcock attempted to initiate a pat down search. Id . ¶ 7. Decedent then ran from Officer Babcock, who chased decedent down a hallway. Id . ¶ 8. Officer Babcock alleges that, as they neared the end of the hallway, decedent pulled a firearm from his waistband, and in response, Officer Babcock "instinctively grabbed [decedent] to tackle him to the ground and a struggle ensued." Id . ¶ 9. Officer Babcock alleges that decedent struggled to twist his body to point the firearm at Officer Babcock while exclaiming, "I got a gun. Let go. I don't want to do this to you." Id . ¶ 10. Officer Babcock asserts that he feared for his life, discharged his firearm twice, and the struggle ended. Id . ¶ 11.


A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in a complaint. "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." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 (2007). "[F]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

In considering a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as all reasonable inferences to be drawn from them. Pareto v. F.D.I.C., 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir.1998). The complaint must be read in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.2001); Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir.1995). However, "[i]n keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir.2009) ("[F]or a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.") (citing Twombly and Iqbal); Sprewell, 266 F.3d at 988; W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir.1981). Ultimately, "[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

Furthermore, unless a court converts a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment, a court cannot consider material outside of the complaint (e.g., facts presented in briefs, affidavits, or discovery materials). In re American Cont'l Corp./Lincoln Sav. & Loan Sec. Litig., 102 F.3d 1524, 1537 (9th Cir.1996), rev'd on other grounds sub nom Lexecon, Inc. v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, 523 U.S. 26 (1998). A court may, however, consider exhibits submitted with or alleged in the complaint and matters that may be judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201. In re Silicon Graphics Inc. Sec. Litig., 183 F.3d 970, 986 (9th Cir.1999); Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir.2001).

For all of these reasons, it is only under extraordinary circumstances that dismissal is proper under Rule 12(b)(6). United States v. City of ...

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