United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND ORDER TO SHOW
James Lorenz United States District Judge
before the Court in this civil rights action are
Defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
and failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). (Docs. no.
6 & 8.) The motions are fully briefed. They are submitted
on the briefs and without oral argument pursuant to Civil
Local Rule 7.1.d.1. For the reasons which follow, both
motions are denied without prejudice.
to the allegations in the complaint, Plaintiff is employed by
the United States Border Patrol ("Border Patrol").
In the course of his employment, he befriended San Diego
County Sheriff's Deputy Jessica Leon. Subsequently,
Leon's relative David William Centrone became a suspect
in an investigation of the West Coast Crips, commenced by the
East County Gang Task Force ("Task Force"). The
Task Force believed that Leon provided sensitive law
enforcement information to Centrone. They tapped her mobile
of the wiretap, the Task Force members were able to read text
messages exchanged between Plaintiff and Leon, including
about Plaintiff's romantic relationship with San Diego
County Sheriff's Deputy Sharlene Wilson. The messages
made disparaging remarks about the Task Force investigation,
the competency of the officers involved, Plaintiff's
plans to apply for a job with the San Diego County
Sheriff's Department, and about Defendant Jacob Cutting,
El Cajon Police Department SWAT officer and Wilson's
2014, Defendants Kai Mandelleh, El Cajon Police Department
SWAT officer, and Zeath Sanchez, San Diego County Deputy
Sheriff, both detectives with the Task Force, investigated
Plaintiff's association with Leon. They believed that
Leon sought to extract law enforcement sensitive information
from Plaintiff. They called Plaintiff for an interview. He
claims that although the Task Force considered him a suspect,
they treated him as a witness, because it afforded fewer
procedural protections. The interview was recorded. The
questions did not relate to leaking sensitive information to
Leon, but to Plaintiff's relationship with Wilson. The
Task Force concluded that Plaintiff did not pass sensitive
law enforcement information to Leon. Plaintiff claims the
suspicion was unreasonable to begin with and contrary to
evidence, because he had no contact with Task Force members
during the relevant time.
the interview, the Task Force informed the Border Patrol,
Plaintiff's employer, that he had been questioned for
associating with Leon, but was uncooperative and not
forthcoming with information. Border Patrol opened an
internal investigation. Although Plaintiff's interview
with Mandelleh and Sanchez was recorded, the Task Force
refused to provide the recording to the Border Patrol for its
investigation. Plaintiff denies that he was uncooperative or
less than forthcoming with information.
alleges that Defendants conspired to pursue unfounded
allegations against him and passed them to the Border Patrol
because Cutting believed it would precipitate the termination
of Plaintiff's relationship with Wilson. In pursuit of
this goal, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants intentionally
circumvented his constitutional due process rights and rights
under federal labor laws.
claims that Defendants' false allegations about him
caused damage to his professional reputation and career
prospects. He believes the allegations were made in
retaliation by Cutting, who was jealous, and by Sanchez for
pointing out to him he had made an error in collecting
result of this conduct, Plaintiff claims he was removed from
the United States Marshal's San Diego Regional Fugitive
Task Force, and would not be assigned to another task force.
Plaintiff was informed by his superior that the San Diego
Sheriff's Department considered him untrustworthy.
Because the Sheriff's Department was a partner in most
local task forces, Plaintiff would no longer be assigned.
Furthermore, Plaintiff's duties with the Border Patrol
were downgraded, and he was passed over for promotion.
Plaintiff alleges that because a perjury allegation had been
made against him, he is also no longer able to pursue a state
law enforcement career or testify as an agent in federal
court. Although Plaintiff was able to secure a position as a
Criminal Investigator with Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, his acceptance was delayed pending the
conclusion of Border Patrol's internal investigation. He
is pursuing a grievance through the National Border Patrol
filed a complaint against Cutting, Mandelleh and Sanchez
alleging violation of his constitutional due process rights
under 42 U.S.C. §1983, conspiracy to deny him due
process under 42 U.S.C. §1985, and conspiracy to
interfere with federal officer's duties under 42 U.S.C.
§1985(1). Defendants filed motions to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.
Court first turns to Defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) motions
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Unlike State courts,
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They
possess only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree. It
is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited
jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary
rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994) (citations omitted). Federal courts are
constitutionally required to raise issues related to federal
subject matter jurisdiction and may do so sua
sponte. Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500,
514 (2006). They must satisfy themselves of jurisdiction over
the subject matter before proceeding to the merits of ...