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Basilio v. City of Fairfield

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 23, 2017




         Plaintiff Jesus Betanzo Basilio (“Plaintiff”) sued the City of Fairfield (“the City”), the Fairfield Police Department (“FPD”), and the FPD Police Chief Walt Tibbet (“Tibbet”) (collectively “Defendants”) for civil rights and state law violations arising out of the arrest and detention of Plaintiff by FPD officers. Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”), ECF No. 28. Defendants move to dismiss the first four claims in Plaintiff's SAC. ECF No. 30. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF No. 32.[1]


         The Court takes the facts alleged by Plaintiff as true for purposes of this motion.

         FPD officers arrested Plaintiff, a Mexican-American male and a minor at the time, at his home in February 2014. SAC ¶ 15. The officers approached Plaintiff and yelled at him to “get on the floor.” Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff complied with the officers' requests. Id. The officers slammed their knees into Plaintiff's neck, shoulder, and face. Id. Some of the officers kicked Plaintiff in the temple. Id. Plaintiff did not resist arrest as the officers kicked him. Id.

         One officer searched Plaintiff and forcefully pulled on Plaintiff's testicles. Id. ¶ 19. The officer placed Plaintiff in the back of his patrol car. Id. While in the patrol car, Plaintiff told officers he did not feel well and his head hurt. Id. ¶ 23.

         The officers took Plaintiff to the police station and into an interrogation room. Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff told police officers his head and shoulder hurt, he needed aspirin, and needed to go the hospital. Id. ¶ 26. 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.

         After a “long wait, ” two officers entered the room to ask Plaintiff about a suspect in a shooting. Id. ¶ 27. Plaintiff told the officers he “had no gang relations.” Id. Plaintiff spent four hours in the interrogation room, after which officers took him to a hospital. Id. ¶¶ 29, 30. Plaintiff's SAC contains six claims for relief: (1) excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (2) denial of medical care under § 1983, (3) denial of medical care under California Government Code § 845.6, (4) violation of the Bane Act, (5) battery, and (6) false imprisonment. Id. at 1. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's first through fourth claims. Mot. at 4-12.

         II. OPINION

         A. Dismissal of Fairfield Police Department

         Courts in this district have consistently held that subdivisions of a defendant city, such as a police department, are unnecessary and redundant defendants. Brouwer v. City of Manteca, 2008 WL 2825099, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Jul. 21, 2008); Herrera v. City of Sacramento, 2013 WL 3992497, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 2, 2013). The Court therefore dismisses the FPD with prejudice given that the City has been named as a defendant in this case. The Court notes that Plaintiff has not named or served any individual officers; Tibbet and the City are the only defendants.

         B. Request for Judicial Notice

         Defendants' Request for Judicial Notice, ECF No. 30-1, is denied with the exception that the Court recognizes the existence of a jury verdict and the two referenced orders filed in the Hall v. City of Fairfield case.

         C. First Claim for Relief: Excessive Force

         Plaintiff brings his first cause of action for excessive force under the Fourth Amendment. SAC at 8. Defendants argue the Court should dismiss the excessive force claim as brought against Tibbet and the City.

         1. § 1983 Excessive Force Claim Against Tibbet

         “[A] supervisory official can be found liable in his individual capacity if there is a sufficient nexus between his own conduct and the constitutional violations committed by subordinates.” Johnson v. City of Vallejo, 99 F.Supp.3d 1212, 1219 (E.D. Cal. 2015). “In a section 1983 claim, a supervisor is liable for the acts of his subordinates if the supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations of subordinates and failed to act to prevent them.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Defendants argue “Plaintiff's SAC adds no facts to cure the defects in his prior complaint, and his factually unsupported, vague conclusions are insufficient to withstand dismissal of his supervisory liability claim against Chief Tibbet.” Mot. at 5.

         Plaintiff responds that “Defendants fail to acknowledge . . . paragraphs 41 through 48 of the SAC . . . which add[] numerous facts to support Plaintiff's claims for failure to train.” Opp'n at 5. Paragraph 43 of the SAC states that Tibbet failed to (1) discipline officers following previous violations of constitutional rights of suspects, and (2) “adopt[] policies regarding obtaining medical care for detainees who complain of serious injuries.” SAC ¶ 43.

         Plaintiff again fails to support his allegations against Tibbet with any facts. The dearth of underlying facts to support Plaintiff's conclusory allegations that Tibbet failed to discipline officers or implement certain policies suggests that these allegations are mere speculation. Given the absence of such facts, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's first claim as brought against Tibbet. The Court finds that Plaintiff has been given enough opportunities to properly ...

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