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Peterson v. Farrow

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 7, 2016

BRETT PETERSON, D.D.S.; B.O.L.T., an unincorporated association of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts; JOHN DALKE, an individual; MARK TEMPLE, an individual, Plaintiffs,
JOSEPH A. FARROW, Commissioner California Highway Patrol; MICHAEL GOOLD, in his official capacity as Chief of Police of the City of Rancho Cordova; SCOTT R. JONES, in his official capacity as the Sheriff of County of Sacramento; ROBERT DIMICELI a.k.a. ROBERT DI MICELI, Officer of the California Highway Patrol; STEPHEN CARROZZO, Rancho Cordova police officer and Deputy Sheriff; KAMALA HARRIS, in her official capacity as California Attorney General, Defendants.



         Plaintiffs Brett Peterson, B.O.L.T. (short for, "Bikers of Lesser Tolerance"), John Dalke, and Mark Temple sued the following Defendants-Sheriff of the County of Sacramento Scott R. Jones in his official capacity, Chief of Police of the City of Rancho Cordova Michael Goold in his official capacity, and Rancho Cordova Police Officer Stephen Carrozzo in his individual capacity (collectively, "Municipal Defendants"); California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Dimiceli in his individual capacity, and California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joseph A. Farrow in his official capacity (collectively, "State Defendants"); and California Attorney General Kamala Harris in her official capacity-under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of the First, Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

         Municipal Defendants move to dismiss and/or strike claims in Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint (SAC) (Doc. #44) under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rules") 12(b)(6), 12(f), and 21, (Doc. #50). For the reasons stated below, Municipal Defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.[1]


         "Plaintiffs Peterson, Dalke, and Temple . . . are individuals with a class M1 motorcycle license who, at all times relevant herein, resided in the State of California." SAC ¶ 10. "Plaintiff B.O.L.T. is an unincorporated association of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts[, ]" "focusing on the unconstitutional enforcement [and constitutionality] of helmet laws . . . ." Id. ¶¶ 11, 13.

         Plaintiffs allege that "Defendants have an unwritten policy, custom[, ] and practice of allowing officers to stop motorcyclists and issue citations for substandard helmets based on visual criteria, and the officer's subjective opinion of whether the helmet would, if tested, conform to federal safety standards[, ]" Id. ¶ 44, "regardless of whether the officer has tangible and documentary evidence to believe that (i.) there has been a determination of non-compliance with [Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS)] 218[, 49 C.F.R. § 571.218 (2011), the federal standard establishing minimum performance requirements for motorcycle helmets], or (ii.) that the motorcyclist has knowledge that the helmet has been determined not to comply with FMVSS 218[, ]" Id. ¶ 46. Plaintiffs allege they "have been cited for wearing helmets that [D]efendants' officers considered to be in violation of the helmet law, " as a result of this unwritten policy, custom, and practice. Id. ¶ 47.

         Plaintiffs also allege that because Temple received a motorcycle helmet citation, Jones revoked Temple's concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit. Id. ¶ 191. As a result, Plaintiffs assert "a constitutional challenge to the complex statutory scheme set forth in Cal[ifornia] Penal Code [sections] 25450-25475, 26150-26225, 26300-26325, 32000-32030 as honorably retired California peace officers are granted mandatory rights, privileges and immunities which are not bestowed to Temple." Id. ¶ 6.

         On April 10, 2015, Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendants (Doc. #1) and on July 1, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint ("FAC, " Doc. #5). In response, Defendants filed motions to dismiss (Doc. ##13, 18) and the Court granted the motions under Rule 8, giving Plaintiffs leave to amend (Doc. #42). On March 3, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their SAC (Doc. #44). The SAC states nine causes of action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 including the following specific claims against one or more of the Municipal Defendants: the second claim for damages against Carrozzo for Fourth Amendment violations; the third claim for damages against Carrozzo for First Amendment violations; the fourth claim for damages against Municipal Defendants Goold and Jones in their official capacities for First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations; the fifth claim for damages and injunctive relief by Temple against Jones in his official capacity for Second Amendment violations; the sixth claim for damages and injunctive relief by Temple against Jones in his official capacity for Fourteenth Amendment Due Process violations; and the seventh claim for damages and injunctive relief by Temple against Jones in his official capacity for Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection violations. The Court now addresses the merits of Municipal Defendants' motion to dismiss or strike all of the above causes of action except the second claim for relief against Carrozzo (Doc. #50).

         II. OPINION

         A. Judicial Notice

         Municipal Defendants request that the Court take judicial notice (Doc. #50-2) of the following documents: Exhibit 1-the complaint in related case, B.O.L.T. et al. v. City of Rancho Cordova, et al., E.D. Case No. 2:14-cv-01588 (the "related case"); Exhibit 2-the operative pleading in the related case; and Exhibit 3-the Court's Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part an earlier dismissal motion in the related case. Plaintiffs do not oppose Municipal Defendants' request. Because these documents are a part of the public record the Court may consider these documents, and Municipal Defendants' request for judicial notice is GRANTED. See U.S. ex rel. Robinson Rancheria Citizens Council v. Borneo, Inc., 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir. 1992) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted) (explaining district courts "may take notice of [other] proceedings[, ] . . . both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue"); Peviani v. Hostess Brands, Inc., 750 F.Supp.2d 1111, 1117 (C.D. Cal. 2010) (taking judicial notice of two district court decisions).

         B. Analysis

         1. Motion to Strike Under Rule 12(f)

         Rule 12(f) provides that "[t]he court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). "‘[T]he function of a 12(f) motion to strike is to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those issues prior to trial . . . .'" Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993) (alterations in original) (quoting Sidney- Vinstein v. A.H. Robins Co., 697 F.2d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 1983)), rev'd on other grounds, 510 U.S. 517 (1994).

Municipal Defendants contend:
Several of the Plaintiffs in the instant case have already made claims against the same Defendants in the [the related case] requesting injunctive and declaratory relief for violations of their Fourth Amendment rights. Specifically, the Monell claim in [the related case] (¶[¶] 146-168, SAC, Docket Entry No. 31 in Case No. 14-1588) is essentially the same as the fourth claim in this case (¶[¶] 164-184, SAC) asserting Monell-type liability for the same allegations. In other words, the claims by these Plaintiffs in the instant action requesting injunctive relief for violations of their Fourth Amendment rights based on allegations that they were improperly stopped pursuant to an unconstitutional policy, should be stricken because those claims are redundant to those raised in [the related case]. On that basis, Defendants respectfully request those claims, specifically the fourth claim for relief[], be stricken from the instant SAC.

Municipal Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Mot.") 3:15-25, ECF No. 50. Municipal Defendants also contend that Plaintiffs' class allegations should be stricken as identical to the class allegations in the related case. Id. at 4:3-13.

         Plaintiffs counter that the allegations in their fourth claim should not be stricken because they now seek monetary damages in addition to injunctive relief, and allegations in this action include new Fourth Amendment violations in the form of targeted enforcement actions and failed investigations. Opp'n to Mot. ("Opp'n") 2:12-19, ECF No. 60. Plaintiffs also contend that the class allegations should not be stricken because the class claims seek ...

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