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Basilio v. City of Fairfield

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 13, 2016




         Plaintiff Jesus Betanzo Basilio (“Plaintiff”) sued the City of Fairfield (“the City”), the Fairfield Police Department (“FPD”), and FPD Chief of Police Walt Tibbet (“Tibbet”) (collectively “Defendants”) for civil rights and state law violations arising out of an interaction between Plaintiff and FPD officers (Doc. #1). Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint (Doc. #9). Plaintiff opposes the motion (Doc. #14).[1]


         The Court takes the facts alleged by Plaintiff as true for purposes of this motion. In February 2014, FPD officers arrested Plaintiff at his residence. Compl. ¶ 11. Plaintiff is a Mexican-American male and was a minor at the time of the arrest. Id. The officers approached Plaintiff and yelled at him to get on the floor. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff was unarmed and complied with the officers’ requests. Id. The officers then slammed their knees into Plaintiff’s neck, shoulder, and face. Id. Some of the officers kicked Plaintiff in the temple. Id. Plaintiff was not resisting arrest while the officers were kicking him. Id.

         One officer searched Plaintiff and forcefully pulled on Plaintiff’s testicles. Id. ¶ 15. The officer then placed Plaintiff in the back of his patrol car. Id. While in the patrol car, Plaintiff told officers that he was tired, did not feel well, and that his head hurt. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff fainted in the back of the police car. Id. ¶ 20.

         When Plaintiff arrived at the police station, officers took him into an interrogation room. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff told police officers that we was in pain and that he needed aspirin and to be taken to the hospital. Id. ¶ 22. The officers did not take Plaintiff to the hospital and left him in the room for two hours. Id. Plaintiff fainted in the interrogation room. Id.

         At some point, the officers came back into the room asked Plaintiff about a suspect in a shooting. Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff told the officers he “had no gang relations.” Id. Plaintiff was at the police station for five hours. Id. ¶ 26. Fairfield police officers then transported him to a hospital. Id.

         Plaintiff sued Defendants in February 2016, alleging seven causes of action: (1) excessive force pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“§ 1983”), (2) denial of medical care pursuant to § 1983, (3) violation of the Bane Act, (4) battery, (5) negligence, (6) false imprisonment, and (7) false arrest. Id. at 8-17. Defendants move to dismiss each of Plaintiff’s claims, except for the battery claim. Motion to Dismiss (“MTD”) at 1-2.

         II. OPINION

         A. First Cause of Action: Excessive Force

         Plaintiff brings his first cause of action for excessive force under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Compl. at 8. Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s claim must be dismissed to the extent that it is brought under the Fourteenth Amendment because an excessive force claim is limited to being brought under the Fourth Amendment. MTD at 4. Defendants are correct. The Supreme Court has explicitly held that:

all claims that law enforcement officers have used excessive force-deadly or not-in the course of an arrest, investigatory stop, or other “seizure” of a free citizen should be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment and its “reasonableness” standard, rather than under a “substantive due process” approach. Because the Fourth Amendment provides an explicit textual source of constitutional protection against this sort of physically intrusive governmental conduct, that Amendment, not the more generalized notion of “substantive due process, ” must be the guide for analyzing these claims.

Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989) (emphasis in original). Plaintiff’s excessive force claim brought under the Fourteenth Amendment is dismissed. The excessive force claim remains to the extent it is brought under the Fourth Amendment.

         1. § 1983 Excessive Force Claim Against the City

         a. Plaintiff Fails to Allege a Policy or Custom That Caused His Constitutional Injury

         Defendants argue that the City cannot be liable under § 1983 because Plaintiff fails to sufficiently allege Monell liability. MTD at 4-5. A local government entity may be liable under § 1983 when the alleged constitutional injury was caused by the entity’s “policy or custom.” Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). A Plaintiff can successfully allege a policy or custom of a public entity by showing: (1) that “a longstanding practice or custom which constitutes the ‘standard operating procedure’ of the local government entity;” (2) “the decision-making official was, as a matter of state law, a final policymaking authority whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy in the area of decision;” or (3) “an official with final policymaking authority either delegated that authority to, or ratified the decision of, a subordinate.” Newman v. San Joaquin Delta Cmty. Coll. Dist., 814 F.Supp.2d 967, 977 (E.D. Cal. 2011) (quoting Rosenbaum v. City & Cty. of S.F., 484 ...

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