United States District Court, S.D. California
JONATHAN C. CAPP, On Behalf Of Himself; N.C., A Minor By And Through Their Guardian Ad Litem; J.C., A Minor By And Through Their Guardian Ad Litem, Plaintiffs,
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; SAN DIEGO HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY; KATHY JACKSON; BOB PROKESCH; JOHANNA FIRTH; DOES 1 to 50, Inclusive, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR
FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (DOC. NOS. 5, 13)
Anthony J. Battaglia United States District Judge
before the Court are two motions to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, the first filed by Defendants Johanna Firth
(“Firth”), Bob Prokesch (“Prokesch”),
and the County of San Diego (“County”), and the
second filed by Defendant Kathy Jackson
“Defendants”). (Doc. Nos. 5, 13.) Plaintiffs
Jonathan C. Capp (“Capp”), N.C., and J.C.
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”) oppose the motions.
(Doc. Nos. 10, 16.) Having reviewed the parties' moving
papers and controlling legal authority, the Court finds the
matter suitable for decision on the papers and without oral
argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1.d.1. Accordingly,
the motion hearing date currently set for April 27, 2017,
at 2:00 p.m. is hereby VACATED. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motions.
dispute arises from allegations that Capp emotionally abused
his children, had a substance abuse problem, and drove his
car with his children in it while under the influence of
alcohol. The County Health and Human Services Agency
(“Agency”) received these allegations from an
anonymous third party, but Capp suggests his ex-wife's
parents reported these allegations to the County. (Doc. No. 1
¶¶16-17, 20, 33, 36.)
receiving these allegations, the County sent social worker
Firth to interview N.C. and J.C. at school without Capp's
consent. (Id. ¶ 18.) Firth also interviewed
Capp at his home on August 26, 2015. (Id.
¶¶ 17, 19.) On August 28, 2015, Capp's
ex-wife's attorney informed Capp that his ex-wife was
seeking full custody of N.C. and J.C., and that Firth
recommended the ex-wife create a written agreement that she
would file an emergency custody order because the children
felt unsafe in his care. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25.)
Capp's ex-wife filed an ex parte motion on August 31,
2015, based on Firth's recommendation, but the family
court denied the motion on September 2, 2015, and dismissed
her motion to modify custody in her favor. (Id.
¶¶ 27-28; see Doc. No. 1-3.)
receiving the ex parte application, Capp contacted Jackson,
an Agency supervisor, who assured Capp that procedures would
be followed and the case against him closed. (Doc. No. 1
¶ 30.) On September 8, 2015, social worker Prokesch
interviewed Capp regarding the allegations. (Id.
the span of this investigation, N.C. and J.C.'s maternal
grandparents kept Capp from seeing N.C. and J.C. and
physically prevented him from picking them up from school.
(Id. ¶¶ 35, 37.) On September 24, 2015,
the family court prohibited the maternal grandparents from
seeing the children and nearly revoked the ex-wife's
custody. (Id. ¶¶ 39-40.) The family court
also confirmed that the Agency determined the emotional abuse
allegations against Capp were inconclusive, which Jackson,
Prokesch, and Firth had confirmed on September 18, 2015.
(Id. ¶¶ 41-42.) On October 15, 2015, Capp
received a notification from Firth that the child abuse
investigation against him was officially closed, but that he
had been subsequently placed on the Child Abuse Central Index
(“CACI”). (Id. ¶¶ 43-44; Doc. No.
called the Agency to protest his CACI listing, and Ana
Daugherty (“Daugherty”), a policy analyst with
Child Protective Services (“CPS”), informed Capp
she was investigating his complaint. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶
47, 49.) On October 30, 2015, Daugherty informed Capp that
she would recommend he be taken off the CACI. (Id.
¶ 51.) On November 23, 2015, Daugherty told Capp the
allegations against him were downgraded to
“unfounded” with the exception of the emotional
abuse allegation against N.C., which was determined
inconclusive. (Id. ¶¶ 52-53; see
Doc. No. 1-9.) Daugherty also informed Capp that he was never
actually placed on the CACI and that the mistake was due to a
clerical error, of which he received written confirmation on
February 2, 2016. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 54-55.)
instituted this action by filing the operative complaint on
November 22, 2016, alleging a violation of their First,
Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Firth, Prokesch, and Jackson. (Doc. No. 1
¶¶ 71-77.) Plaintiffs also allege municipal
liability pursuant to Monell v. Department of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), against the County.
(Id. ¶¶ 78-83.) Firth, Prokesch, and the
County filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) on January 11, 2017. (Doc. No. 5.) On
February 16, 2017, Jackson also filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
(Doc. No. 13.) The motions have been fully briefed. (Doc.
Nos. 10, 12, 16, 17.) This order follows.
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the
complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th
Cir. 2001). A pleading must contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Plaintiffs
must also plead, however, “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). The plausibility standard thus demands more than a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action or
naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Instead, the complaint “must contain sufficient
allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to
enable the opposing party to defend itself
effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202,
1216 (9th Cir. 2011).
reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must
construe them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336,
337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). The court need not take legal
conclusions as true “merely because they are cast in
the form of factual allegations.” Roberts v.
Corrothers, 812 F.2d 1173, 1177 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting
W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th
Cir. 1981)). Similarly, “conclusory allegations of law
and unwarranted inferences are not sufficient to defeat a
motion to dismiss.” Pareto v. Fed. Deposit Ins.
Corp., 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998).
dismissal is appropriate, a court should grant leave to amend
unless the plaintiff could not possibly cure the defects in
the pleading. Knappenberger v. City of Phoenix, 566
F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2009).
Violation of Civil Rights Claim: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
move for dismissal on the basis that Plaintiffs state no
violation of their First, Fourth, or Fourteenth Amendment
rights on which to hinge a § 1983 action, and even if
they did, Defendants are immune from such claims. (Doc. No.