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Jones v. Keitz

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 17, 2017

RONALD JONES, JOHN CAYANNE AND JIM GLASSCOCK, Plaintiffs,
v.
MICHAEL KEITZ, SHERIFF JOHN ANDERSON, ROBERT BLEHM, MADERA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, MADERA COUNTY, DOES 1 TO 100, INCLUSIVE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS (ECF NO. 8.)

          LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Ronald Jones, John Cayanne, and Jim Glasscock (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) file this action against Defendants Michael Keitz (“Keitz”), John Anderson (“Anderson”), Robert Blehm (“Blehm”), County of Madera and County of Madera Sheriff's Department (collectively, “County Defendants”), and Does 1 to 100 (collectively, “Defendants”). This action arises out of an altercation that occurred at the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino (“Casino”) in Coarsegold, California and which resulted in Plaintiffs' arrest and criminal prosecution.

         Plaintiffs bring a federal claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“§ 1983”), alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as various state law claims. Now before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). This matter is suitable for disposition without oral argument. See Local Rule 230(g).

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in this Court on November 14, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) Federal question jurisdiction exists pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331with respect to Plaintiffs' federal law claims, and this Court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Venue is proper in this Court.

         The Complaint sets forth four causes of action as to all Defendants: (1) violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to § 1983 (first cause of action); (2) violation of privacy and defamation pursuant to California law (second cause of action); (3) malicious prosecution under California law (third cause of action); and (4) interference with economic relation under California law (fourth cause of action). (Id.)

         Defendants moved to dismiss all causes of action stated against them. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiffs opposed the motion. (ECF No. 10.) Defendants submitted a reply. (ECF No. 12.) The matter is now ripe for review.

         B. Factual Allegations

         On October 9, 2014, Plaintiffs were sworn by Chief John Oliveira as members of the Chukchansi Tribal Police Department of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians in Coarsegold, California (“Tribal Police”). (Compl. ¶ 17.) Plaintiffs were asked to search for an audit required by the National Indian Gaming Commission (“NIGC”) at the Casino. (Id. ¶ 18.) According to the Complaint, the audit was in the possession of a “hostile” faction of the tribe that was occupying the offices of Tribal Gaming Commission. (Id. ¶ 20.)

         On October 9, 2014, Plaintiffs and seven other members of the Tribal Police went to the Casino to obtain a copy of the audit. (Id. ¶ 21.) They were confronted by private security guards employed by a company named Security Training Concepts (“STC”) and hired by the “hostile” faction of the tribe. (Id.) The Tribal Police detained and arrested several STC security guards and asked the Madera County Sheriff's Department to remove them from the premises. (Id. ¶ 23.) Sheriff Anderson responded to the request, removed the security guards from the premises, and released them outside the Casino. (Id. ¶¶ 24, 26.) Anderson made no attempt to arrest or obstruct Plaintiffs. (Id. ¶ 25.) The security guards returned to the Casino shortly after their release and assaulted Plaintiffs. (Id.)

         On October 31, 2014, Madera County District Attorney Keitz “acting at the direction of Sheriff Anderson” filed a criminal complaint against the Plaintiffs related to the October 9, 2014 incident, alleging twenty-seven felony counts, including kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault with a firearm, and illegal use of a stun gun. (Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiffs were arrested and required to post bail “[s]hortly thereafter.” (Id.) Those charges were ultimately dropped. (Id.)

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendants knew that the charges being brought were baseless, and that Plaintiffs were acting pursuant to lawful tribal authority when they detained the STC security guards. (Id. ¶¶ 28, 29.)

         III. STANDARD OF DECISION

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is a challenge to the sufficiency of the allegations set forth in the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). A 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper where there is either a “lack of a cognizable legal theory” or “the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court accepts as true the allegations in the complaint, construes the pleading in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolves all doubts in the pleader's favor. Lazy Y Ranch Ltd. v. Behrens, 546 F.3d 580, 588 (9th Cir. 2008).

         Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” A plaintiff is required to allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading is insufficient if it offers mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). Moreover, it is inappropriate to assume that the plaintiff “can prove facts that it has not alleged or that the defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have not been alleged[.]” Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). In practice, “a complaint . . . must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562. In other words, the complaint must describe the alleged misconduct in enough detail to lay the foundation for an identified legal claim. “Dismissal without leave to amend is proper if it is clear that the complaint could not be saved by amendment.” Kendall v. Visa U.S.A., Inc., 518 F.3d 1042, 1051 (9th Cir. 2008). To the extent that the pleadings can be cured by the allegation of additional facts, the Court will afford the plaintiff leave to amend. Cook, Perkiss and Liehe, Inc. v. N. Cal. Collection Serv. Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983: ...


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