United States District Court, N.D. California
JOHN E. MASODY, Plaintiff,
BASIA B. KLOPOT, et al., Defendants.
ORDER RE: MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS Re: Dkt. No. 14
MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff John E. Masody ("Plaintiff") brings this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants Raquel Cantillon and Sgt. Donleavy ("Defendants") falsified a police report, which led to Plaintiff losing custody of his child and being wrongfully accused of domestic violence. Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Dkt. No. 14. Plaintiff has filed an Opposition (Dkt. No. 19) and Defendants filed a Reply (Dkt. No. 20). The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without oral argument and VACATES the April 2, 2015 hearing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); Civil L.R. 7-1(b). Having considered the parties' positions, relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for the reasons set forth below.
Plaintiff's claims stem from state court family law proceedings. On July 28, 2013, Defendants responded to a domestic violence related incident between Plaintiff and Basia Klopot, the mother of Plaintiff's child. Am. Compl. ("AC") at 4. Plaintiff alleges that he made multiple calls to the Walnut Creek Police Department "to avoid [Ms. Klopot's] fraudulent usage of domestic violence law, " and Defendants arrived two hours later. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants "filed falsified police report and refused to provide [him] with a copy of their report...." Id. Plaintiff claims that he was harmed because "[Ms. Klopot] used that report against me in the Contra Costa Superior court, Judge Jill [Fannin] used that report and additional falsified information of [Ms. Klopot] made wrongful orders against me, that cost me my life without my son of losing him and wrongfully accused of domestic violence for years." Id.
On July 30, 2013, Ms. Klopot filed a Request for Child Custody and Visitation Orders ("DV-105 Petition") with regard to her and Plaintiff's child. See Initial Compl. ("IC") at 47-55, Dkt. No. 1. In her DV-105 Petition, Ms. Klopot described the July 28 incident and attached the corresponding police report. Id. at 48. Ms. Klopot also filed a Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order against Plaintiff ("DV-100/101 Petition"). IC at 28-29. On July 31, 2013, the Contra Costa Superior Court issued Ms. Klopot a Temporary Restraining Order against Plaintiff, preventing him from contacting Ms. Klopot and their child. Id. at 27.
Plaintiff filed an undated Response to Ms. Klopot's DV-100/101 and DV-105 Petitions indicating, among other things, that Ms. Klopot "fool me, the police, your honor" and that on July 28, 2013, Ms. Klopot "goes from making victims, to becoming a victim, reporting expertly and convincingly to Walnut Creek Police Department...." Id. at 56-61. Plaintiff also stated that he was served with court orders in the family law proceedings that purposefully excluded the July 28, 2013 police report. Id. at 57 ("On August 2013 I was served the orders with missing [pages], DV-105 which describes reasons for the orders excluding the police reports").
On August 21, 2013, the Contra Costa County Superior Court issued Ms. Klopot a three-year Domestic Violence Restraining Order against Plaintiff, preventing him from contacting her and their child. Id. at 63. On October 23, 2013, the Contra Costa County Superior Court ordered sole legal and physical child custody to Ms. Klopot, with potential therapeutic visitation for Plaintiff. Id. at 34-39. Plaintiff was also ordered to enroll in a 52-week Batterers Intervention Program. Id. Plaintiff appealed, but on June 16, 2014, the California First Appellate District Court confirmed that Plaintiff's appeal was dismissed, and on July 30, 2014, the California Supreme Court denied review. Id. at 7-14.
On October 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed the initial Complaint in this matter against Defendants, Ms. Klopot, and Judge Fannin (erroneously sued as "Fannan"), who presided over the underlying family law proceedings. Dkt. No. 1. On October 23, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and dismissed the IC with leave to amend. Order, Dkt. No. 6. In his IC, Plaintiff alleged federal question jurisdiction, claiming that Defendants violated: "Civil Rights, Discrimination, Obstruction of Justice, Perjury." IC at 2. Although he did not specify the basis for federal question jurisdiction, the Court construed Plaintiff's allegations as a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Order at 5. However, since Plaintiff did not allege what, if any, constitutional rights were violated, the Court dismissed the IC with leave to amend so that he could specify the constitutional rights that were implicated by his allegations. Id.
On November 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint against Defendants. Dkt. No. 7. In his AC, Plaintiff contends that Defendants "violated my constitutional rights" by filing a falsified police report and refusing to provide him with a copy of the report in preparation for the family law proceedings. Id. at 4. Plaintiff demands full physical and legal custody of his son, as well as monetary damages. Id. at 8. On January 15, 2015, Defendants filed their Answer to Plaintiff's AC. Dkt. No. 12. They now move for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that Plaintiff has failed to state a viable § 1983 claim.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), "[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). "Analysis under Rule 12(c) is substantially identical' to analysis under Rule 12(b)(6) because, under both rules, a court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint, taken as true, entitle the plaintiff to a legal remedy." Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and citation omitted). "The Court inquires whether the complaint at issue contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim of relief that is plausible on its face.'" Harris v. Cnty. of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). "Judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when [, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true, ] there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Chavez, 683 F.3d at 1108 (quoting Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009)).
In their Motion, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's AC fails to identify a specific federal right forming the basis of his §1983 claim. Mot. at 5. While Plaintiff alleges that Defendants filed a falsified police report and refused to provide him with a copy, Defendants contend that they could not have known or have been expected to know whether Plaintiff was innocent, given Ms. Klopot's report to them. Id. at 6. Defendants note that Plaintiff does not allege that they used overly coercive or abusive investigative techniques that they knew or should have known would yield false information. Id. at 7. Instead, the AC ...