Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Stewart v. Saukkola

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 21, 2016

SHELBY F. STEWART, Plaintiff,
v.
California Highway Patrol Officer BILLY J. SAUKKOLA Badge #18291, California Highway Patrol Commissioner JOSEPH FARROW, COUNTY OF YUBA, a municipal corporation duly organized under the laws of the State of California, Yuba County Sheriff STEVEN L. DURFOR, and Does 1-20, [1]Defendants.

          ORDER

         This action arises from the arrest and alleged assault of plaintiff Shelby Stewart by defendant California Highway Patrol ("CHP") Officer Billy Saukkola and an unnamed Yuba County Sheriff Deputy on January 4, 2015, after plaintiff and his five-year-old daughter went to investigate the aftermath of a solo car accident that occurred down their street. This matter is before the court on motions to dismiss filed by defendants Saukkola and CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow (collectively, "the CHP defendants"), ECF No. 5, and by defendants Yuba County Sheriff Steven Durfor and the County of Yuba (collectively, "the County defendants"), ECF No. 4. Plaintiff opposes the motions, in part, ECF Nos. 8 & 9, and defendants replied, ECF Nos. 10 & 11. The court held a hearing and initial scheduling conference on May 18, 2016, at which Beau Weiner appeared for plaintiff, William Cummings appeared for the CHP defendants, and Derek Haynes appeared for the County defendants. Having reviewed the allegations of the complaint and the parties' briefing, the court orders as follows:[2]

         I. 42 U.S.C. § 1983: UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURE AND EXCESSIVE FORCE

         The complaint asserts a claim for violation of plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Saukkola, Farrow, and Durfor. See Compl. ¶¶ 50-55, ECF No. 1. The court finds the complaint fails to plead sufficient factual allegations to support a claim against Durfor and Farrow.

         At hearing, plaintiff conceded this claim should be dismissed as to Durfor and Farrow without leave to amend. See ECF No. 8 at 3-4; ECF No. 9 at 3. Accordingly, the court DISMISSES plaintiff's first claim for relief with respect to Farrow and Durfor without leave to amend, leaving Saukkola as the sole named defendant in this claim.

         II. 42 U.S.C. § 1983: MUNICIPAL LIABILITY FOR UNCONSTITUTIONAL CUSTOM, PRACTICE, OR POLICY

         The complaint next asserts a claim for municipal liability based on an unconstitutional custom, practice, or policy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Durfor and the County of Yuba. See Compl. ¶¶ 56-65.

         "A municipality or other local government may be liable under [§ 1983] if the governmental body itself subjects a person to a deprivation of rights or causes a person to be subjected to such deprivation." Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 60 (2011) (citation and quotation marks omitted). To succeed on a § 1983 claim against a municipality for an unconstitutional custom, practice, or policy, a plaintiff must show "(1) that [the plaintiff] possessed a constitutional right of which [he or she] was deprived; (2) that the municipality had a policy; (3) that this policy amounts to deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's constitutional right; and, (4) that the policy is the moving force behind the constitutional violation." Plumeau v. Sch. Dist. No. 40 Cty. of Yamhill, 130 F.3d 432, 438 (9th Cir. 1997) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see Dougherty v. City of Covina, 654 F.3d 892, 900-01 (9th Cir. 2011) (affirming dismissal where plaintiff failed to allege "any facts demonstrating that his constitutional depravation was the result of a custom or practice of the [defendant city] or that the custom or practice was the ‘moving force' behind his constitutional deprivation").

         A plaintiff may prove the existence of a custom or informal policy by showing a pattern of similar incidents that demonstrate the alleged informal policy was "so permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law." Gillette v. Delmore, 979 F.2d 1342, 1349 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 127 (1988)) (quotation marks omitted). To establish the existence of an informal policy, the plaintiff ordinarily must show more than a single constitutional deprivation, random act, or isolated event. Christie v. Iopa, 176 F.3d 1231, 1235 (9th Cir. 1999). In addition, to withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a case cannot rest on the bare allegation of unlawful policies, customs, or practices. AE ex rel. Hernandez v. Cty. of Tulare, 666 F.3d 631, 637 (9th Cir. 2012).

         Here, the court finds the complaint's conclusory allegations and allegations of a single incident of excessive force are insufficient to establish the existence of a county policy that was the moving force behind the alleged constitutional violations. See Christie, 176 F.3d at 1235; Johnson v. Cate, No. 10-00803, 2012 WL 1076209, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 29, 2012) ("Plaintiff must allege facts, not conclusions, to support his municipality claim." (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009))).

         At hearing, plaintiff conceded his claim for municipal liability against Durfor and the County of Yuba should be dismissed without leave to amend. See ECF No. 8 at 3, 7 n.1. Accordingly, the court DISMISSES plaintiff's municipal liability claim against Durfor and the County without leave to amend.

         III. 42 U.S.C. § 1985: CONSPIRACY TO INTERFERE WITH CIVIL RIGHTS

         The complaint asserts a claim for conspiracy to interfere with civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) against Saukkola and unnamed officers. Compl. ¶¶ 66-70. The court finds the complaint fails to plead facts establishing that plaintiff is a member of a suspect or quasi-suspect class or that the defendants conspired to violate plaintiff's constitutional rights, as required to state a claim under § 1985(3). See Sever v. Alaska Pulp Corp., 978 F.2d 1529, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992); Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 626 (9th Cir. 1988) ("A mere allegation of conspiracy without factual specificity is insufficient.").

         At hearing, plaintiff conceded this claim should be dismissed in its entirety without leave to amend. See ECF No. 8 at 3; ECF No. 9 at 3. Accordingly, the court DISMISSES plaintiff's § 1985 claim without leave to amend.

         IV. 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983: ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.