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Resendiz v. County of Monterey

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

July 1, 2015

GUADALUPE RESENDIZ, et al., Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF MONTEREY, et al., Defendants.


LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Guadalupe Resendiz and Regulo Martinez (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), successors in interest to Artemio Martinez Resendiz ("Decedent"), allege that Defendants County of Monterey, Scott Miller, California Forensic Medical Group, Taylor Fithian, Eluid Garcia, and David Harness are liable under federal and state law for the death of Decedent, Plaintiffs' son. Before the Court is the motion to dismiss submitted by Defendants California Forensic Medical Group ("CFMG"), Taylor Fithian, Eluid Garcia, and David Harness, (collectively, "Defendants"). ECF No. 24. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this motion suitable for decision without oral argument and hereby VACATES the hearing set for July 2, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. The 1:30 p.m. July 2, 2015 case management conference remains as set. Having considered the parties' submissions, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss.


A. Factual Background

Plaintiffs bring this action as successors in interest to Decedent Artemio Martinez Resendiz. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff Guadalupe Resendiz is Decedent's mother and a resident of Monterey County, California. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff Regulo Martinez is Decedent's father and a resident of Monterey County, California. Id. ¶ 13.

Defendant County of Monterey ("County") is a public entity organized under California law. Id. ¶ 14. According to Plaintiffs, the County operates and manages Monterey County Jail. Id. Defendant Scott Miller is the Sheriff of the County of Monterey, the "highest position in the San Mateo [sic] County Sheriff's Department."[1] Id. ¶ 15. The County of Monterey contracts with Defendant California Forensic Medical Group ("CFMG") to provide medical, mental health, and dental services for the Monterey County Jail. Id. ¶ 16. Defendant CFMG is a California corporation headquartered in Monterey, California. Id. ¶ 16. Defendant Taylor Fithian is the co-founder, President, and Medical Director for Defendant CFMG. Id. ¶ 17. Defendant David Harness is the Program Director for Defendant CFMG. Defendant Lola Bayer is the nursing supervisor at the Monterey County Jail and is employed by Defendant CFMG. Id. ¶ 19. Defendant Eliud Garcia is the Medical Director for Defendant CFMG at the Monterey County Jail. Id ¶ 20.

Decedent was in the custody of the Monterey County Sheriff's Department prior to his death on November 12, 2013. Id. ¶¶ 31, 37. Plaintiffs allege on information and belief that Decedent was transported to the Monterey County Jail infirmary on November 9, 2013, with "flu like symptoms and irregularities in his blood glucose levels." Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiffs allege that Monterey County Jail and CFMG were aware that Decedent suffered from diabetes mellitus. Id. ¶ 32. On November 10, 2013, Decedent was "found sitting in his own feces and urine, apparently unresponsive." Id. ¶ 34. At that point, Decedent "was transported to Natividad Medical Center Emergency Room where he was found to be unresponsive, hypotensive, [and] in severe metabolic acidosis with renal failure." Id. ¶ 34. According to Plaintiffs, the "severe lactic acidosis with acute renal failure resulted in cardiac arrests, " and after Decedent suffered repeated cardiac arrest, Decedent was diagnosed with "anoxic brain injury." Id. ¶¶ 35, 36. Decedent died on November 12, 2013.

According to Plaintiffs, jail personnel and medical staff were "aware of [Decedent's] serious medical needs" resulting from Decedent's diabetes mellitus as Decedent "was being treated for this condition while incarcerated at the Monterey County Jail since [Decedent's] confinement at least as least as early as June of 2013." Id. ¶ 32.

Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants County and CFMG "have been on notice" that Defendants' provision of healthcare to inmates at the County Jail is "inadequate and results in needless harm" since at least 2007 when the Monterey County Sheriff's Office and Monterey County Board of Supervisors "hired an outside consulting firm to perform a needs assessment for the Jail." Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiffs also allege that an October 2013 Monterey County Jail Health Care Evaluation ("2013 Evaluation") "found County of Monterey and CFMG's policies and practices for screening, supervising, and treating prisoners inadequate." Id. ¶ 27. More specifically, the 2013 Evaluation apparently identified "numerous inadequate policies and procedures" including:

a. Triaging of Complaints
b. Emergency Services
c. Preparation of Medication Prior to Administration
d. Medication Administration
e. Individualized Treatment Plans
f. Treatment of Chronic Illness
g. Health Records
h. Clinic Space, Equipment, and Supplies

Id. ¶ 28. The 2013 Evaluation also allegedly "found that chronic understaffing hinders [Defendants'] ability to provide medical care." Id. ¶ 28.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed their complaint on December 16, 2014. ECF No. 1. Defendants County and Miller filed a motion to dismiss on February 27, 2015. ECF No. 22. Plaintiffs filed an opposition on March 13, 2015, ECF No. 28, and Defendants filed a reply on March 18, 2015, ECF No. 30. The Court granted Defendant County and Miller's motion to dismiss on June 30, 2015, 2015. ECF No. 42.

Defendants CFMG, Fithian, Garcia, and Harness filed the instant motion to dismiss on March 6, 2015. Plaintiff filed an opposition on April 17, 2015, and Defendants filed a reply on May 29, 2015, ECF No. 35.


A. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint to include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A complaint that fails to meet this standard may be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Supreme Court has held that Rule 8(a) requires a plaintiff to 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). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads 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). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). For purposes of ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court "accept[s] factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe[s] 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).

However, a court need not accept as true allegations contradicted by judicially noticeable facts, Shwarz v. United States, 234 F.3d 428, 435 (9th Cir. 2000), and the "[C]ourt may look beyond the plaintiff's complaint to matters of public record" without converting the Rule 12(b)(6) motion into one for summary judgment, Shaw v. Hahn, 56 F.3d 1128, 1129 n.1 (9th Cir. 1995). Nor is the court required to "assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations.'" Fayer v. Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (quoting W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981)). Mere "conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss." Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2004); accord Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Furthermore, "a ...

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