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Mock v. City of Santa Ana

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 5, 2015

TRAVIS MOCK
v.
CITY OF SANTA ANA,

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (In Chambers) DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; C.D. Cal. Local Rule 7-15.

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Travis Mock filed this action on May 19, 2014, against the City of Santa Ana, Santa Ana police officers Peter Picone ("Picone") and John Rodriguez ("Rodriguez"), and Does 1 to 10. The complaint alleges claims for: (1) unlawful seizure and unlawful and unreasonable use of force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; (2) municipal liability under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978); (3) assault; (4) battery; and (5) negligence. See generally Compl.

Plaintiff alleges that on March 15, 2013, plaintiff and a passenger, Jason Hallstrom, were traveling in a motor vehicle when defendants Picone and Rodriguez attempted to stop the vehicle. Compl. ¶ 10. When the motor vehicle stopped, plaintiff and the passenger ran away from the vehicle and the police officers. Id. Plaintiff contends that he was not in possession of a weapon at the time and "was not approaching or engaging" the officers, so that the "use of deadly force was not justified or lawful." Id. ¶ 11. Defendants drew their service weapons and opened fire on the fleeing pair, hitting plaintiff once in the back. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff suffered multiple injuries, and Hallstrom was killed. Id. ¶ 13.

On March 2, 2015, plaintiff pled guilty to and was convicted of: (1) a felony violation of California Vehicle Code section 2800.2 (evading a peace officer/reckless driving), (2) a felony violation of California Vehicle Code section 10851(a) (unlawful taking of a vehicle), (3) a misdemeanor violation of California Health & Safety Code section 11377(a) (possession of a controlled substance), and (4) a misdemeanor violation of California Penal Code section 148(a)(1) (resisting a peace officer in the lawful performance of his duties). See Dkt. No. 36 Ex. C.[1]

On March 25, 2015, defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings. Dkt. No. 36. Plaintiff has not opposed the motion.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for judgment on the pleadings brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) provides a means of disposing of cases when all material allegations of fact are admitted in the pleadings and only questions of law remain. See McGann v. Ernst & Young, 102 F.3d 390, 392 (9th Cir. 1996). Such a motion may be brought "after the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial." 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). Accordingly, while the complaint "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 (2007). "[F]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

In considering a Rule 12(c) motion, as with a 12(b)(6) motion, the district court must view the facts presented in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn from them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. NL Indus. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). 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, 664 (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."). For purposes of a Rule 12(c) motion, the moving party concedes the accuracy of the factual allegations of the complaint, but does not admit other assertions that constitute conclusions of law or matters that would not be admissible in evidence. 5C Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1368 (3d ed. 2004).

On a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a court generally 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).

By its terms, Rule 12(c) neither permits nor bars partial judgment on the pleadings. Courts have commonly applied Rule 12(c) to individual causes of action. See, e.g., Moran v. Peralta Cmty. Coll. Dist., 825 F.Supp. 891, 893 (N.D. Cal. 1993) ...


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