United States District Court, E.D. California
SHELBY F. STEWART, Plaintiff,
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, Defendants.
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
42 U.S.C. § 1983: UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND SEIZURE
AND EXCESSIVE FORCE
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
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.
42 U.S.C. § 1983: MUNICIPAL LIABILITY FOR
UNCONSTITUTIONAL CUSTOM, PRACTICE, OR POLICY
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.
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
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).
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))).
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
42 U.S.C. § 1985: CONSPIRACY TO INTERFERE WITH CIVIL
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.").
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.
42 U.S.C. § 1983: ...