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Mouwakeh v. County of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 15, 2016

BANA MOUWAKEH, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER: (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC. 17]; AND (2) DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO STRIKE [DOC. 17]

          Thomas J. Whelan Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendants’ motion to dismiss and to strike portions of the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). [Doc. 17.] The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendants’ motion to dismiss and DENIES Defendants’ motion to strike.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Bana Mouwakeh filed this action on October 10, 2015. [Doc. 1.] The FAC alleges that during an October 11, 2013 traffic stop, she reached her hand out of her car and towards one of three sheriff’s deputies. (FAC [Doc. 16] ¶¶ 20, 24-25.) The deputies removed Mouwakeh from the car, took her to the ground, and handcuffed her. (Id.) She alleges that she suffered severe injuries and was later arrested. (Id. [Doc. 16] ¶¶ 25-26.)

         The FAC alleges that the deputies retaliated against her for exercising her First Amendment rights (FAC [Doc. 16] ¶¶ 46-50), and that they, Sheriff Bill Gore, and their employer the County of San Diego all violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (FAC [Doc. 16] ¶¶ 30- 45, 51-85.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         The Court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. See Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In ruling on the motion, a court must “accept all material allegations of fact as true and construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Vasquez v. L.A. Cnty., 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007).

         A complaint must contain “a short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has interpreted this rule to mean that “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[.]” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). The allegations in the complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         Well-pled allegations in the complaint are assumed true, but a court is not required to accept legal conclusions couched as facts, unwarranted deductions, or unreasonable inferences. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         B. Motion to Strike

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), the Court “may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” “[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[.]” Sidney-Vinstein v. A.H. Robins Co., 697 F.2d 880, 885 (9th Cir. 1983). “Motions to strike are generally regarded with disfavor because of the limited importance of pleading in federal practice, and because they are often used as a delaying tactic.” California Dep't of Toxic Substances Control v. Alco Pac., Inc., 217 F.Supp.2d 1028, 1033 (C.D. Cal. 2002). Unless it would prejudice the opposing party, courts freely grant leave to amend stricken pleadings. See Wyshak v. City Nat’l Bank, 607 F.2d 824, 826 (9th Cir. 1979); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2).

         III. Discussion

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         1. ...


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