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Klahn v. Dublin Police Dept.

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 12, 2017

DANIEL PATRICK KLAHN, Plaintiff,
v.
ALAMEDA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING THE THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT RE: DKT. NOS. 64, 65.

          JOSEPH C. SPERO Chief Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Daniel P. Klahn Sr. brings this action against several government entities and law-enforcement officers alleging violations of his constitutional rights that stem from his arrest and detention. In past orders, the Court granted Klahn's application to proceed in forma pauperis and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), dismissed many of his claims with prejudice. In its most recent order, the Court granted Klahn leave to amend two claims against the County of Alameda. Klahn has since filed a Third Amended Complaint, which asserts claims against the County of Alameda and other defendants. The County of Alameda moves to strike or dismiss the Third Amended Complaint with prejudice. The Court finds the motion suitable for determination without oral argument. See Civil L.R. 7-1(b). For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the motion and DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE all claims against the County of Alameda. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court DISMISSES the other claims in the Third Amended Complaint, some with leave to amend and some without, as discussed below. If Klahn wishes to file a Fourth Amended Complaint, he must do so no later than June 12, 2017.[1]

         II. BACKROUND

         A. Procedural History

         On February 19, 2016, Klahn filed an original Complaint, dkt. no. 1, and an application to proceed in forma pauperis, dkt. no. 2. The Court granted Klahn's application to proceed in forma pauperis and conducted an initial review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). See Order re Sufficiency of Compl. (“Compl. Order”), dkt. no. 16, at 1.[2] During that initial review, the Court permitted Klahn to proceed on claims against San Diego County Assistant District Attorney Anna Winn and a Monterey County Sheriff's Deputy identified as Officer Ennis. Id. at 15-16. The Court also permitted Klahn to file an amended complaint. Id. at 16.

         Klahn filed his First Amended Complaint (the “FAC”) on August 1, 2016, asserting new allegations against Winn and the County of Alameda (“Alameda County”). See FAC, dkt. no. 18. The Court conducted another review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and permitted Klahn to proceed on certain claims against Winn, Ennis, and Alameda County without prejudice to any argument raised after service. See Order re Sufficiency of FAC (“FAC Order”), dkt. no. 21, at 12.[3]

         The Court instructed the Clerk to issue summons for Winn, Ennis, and Alameda County, and also instructed the United States Marshal to serve those summons. See Id. at 12. The summons for Ennis was returned to the Court unexecuted with the remark: “No one by this name is an employee at Monterey Co[unty] Sheriff's Office.” Dkt. no. 28. Winn and Alameda County were served. See dkt. nos. 29, 30. After they were served, Winn and Alameda County filed motions to dismiss. See dkt. nos. 34, 35.

         While the Court was reviewing those motions, Klahn filed a Second Amended Complaint. See dkt. no. 62.

         On February 13, 2017, the Court issued an order on the motions to dismiss. See Order Granting Defs.' Mots. to Dismiss (“Mots. Order”), dkt. no. 63.[4] The Court granted Winn's motion and dismissed all claims against her with prejudice. See Id. at 28-29. The Court also granted Alameda County's motion and dismissed all Klahn's claims against it, two with leave to amend and all others with prejudice. Id. at 29. The two claims for which the Court granted Klahn leave to amend were for the alleged denial of his Fourteenth Amendment rights to telephone calls and medical care while in Alameda County's custody. Id. The Court further instructed Klahn that, if he wished to pursue those due process claims, he had to file a Third Amended Complaint within 30 days, that he could not include claims against Alameda County that the Court had dismissed with prejudice, and that he could not add new claims or parties without first filing a motion in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) and obtaining the Court's leave. Id.

         B. The Third Amended Complaint

         Without filing a Rule 15 motion, Klahn filed his Third Amended Complaint (the “TAC”) on March 17, 2017. See TAC, dkt. no. 64. In the TAC, Klahn names several defendants. He again names Alameda County, although he does so improperly by naming both the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and the Santa Rita Jail separately. See Id. at 2-3.[5] He also names the Monterey County Jail. See Id. at 2-3. Klahn also names four unidentified individuals as Doe defendants, all of whom are law enforcement officers. See Id. at 3-4. Klahn describes the third Doe defendant as the Monterey County Sheriff's Deputy “with the name Ennis on his badge.” Id. at 3.

         Although the Court has admonished Klahn to use short, continuously numbered paragraphs in its prior orders, see, e.g., Motions Order at 3 note 6, he failed to do so in the TAC. The allegations and claims that Klahn asserts in the TAC are nearly incomprehensible, and the Court cannot discern the number of claims that Klahn seeks to assert or the precise legal theories on which he intends to rely. Furthermore, it is often unclear which allegations and claims apply to which defendants. Klahn seems to assert claims related to alleged violations of his constitutional rights as follows: (1) he was arrested and detained without being presented with a warrant in violation of his Due Process rights, see Id. at 26-27, 30-31; (2) his Fourteenth Amendment right to telephone calls was violated, see Id. at 27, 32; (3) his Fourteenth Amendment right to medical care was violated, see Id. at 27-29; and (4) he was subject to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment while he was in the custody of Monterey County Jail, see Id. at 32-38.

         C. Alameda County's Motion

         On March 31, 2017, Alameda County filed a motion (the “Motion”) seeking relief from the TAC under several grounds. Def.'s Mot. to Strike or Dismiss (“Mot.”), dkt. no. 65. First, Alameda County requests that the Court strike Klahn's TAC, in whole or in part, under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 6(b)(2) and 12. See Id. at 6-8. Second, Alameda County moves to dismiss the TAC in its entirety under Rule 12(b)(6). See Id. at 10-15. Third, Alameda County requests that the Court order Klahn to file a more definite statement under Rule 12(e). See Id. at 15-16.

         1. The Motion

         a. The Motions to Strike Moving to strike Klahn's TAC under two alternative grounds, Alameda County first contends that the Court should strike the TAC in its entirety because it was filed after the deadline set in the Court's most recent order. Mot. at 6-7. Alameda County argues that striking the TAC is appropriate because Klahn failed to seek relief from the deadline in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Civil Local Rules, and he failed to contact Alameda County to request a stipulation extending the deadline. Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(2), 12).

         Alternatively, Alameda County requests that the Court strike portions of the TAC under Rule 12(f). Id. at 7-8. Alameda County asks the Court to strike the portions of the TAC that reference claims that the Court dismissed with prejudice in prior orders and new claims not asserted in Klahn's past complaints-namely, his claims that Alameda County failed to take him to a magistrate within 48 hours and that Alameda County failed to provide him with adequate drinking water-which, Alameda County notes, required the Court's leave. Id. at 8.

         b. The Motion to Dismiss

         Alameda County also makes two general arguments that the TAC should be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6): that each of the claims Klahn asserts against Alameda County lacks a cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to state a plausible claim; and that Klahn's TAC as a whole fails to comport with the short-and-plain requirement of Rule 8. See Mot. at 10, 15. In asserting its first basis-that all Klahn's claims against Alameda County fail to state a claim for which relief can be granted-Alameda County identifies the following as possible Fourteenth Amendment claims asserted in the TAC: (1) Alameda County denied Klahn medical care; (2) Alameda County denied Klahn telephone calls; (3) Alameda County, through its law enforcement officers, failed to present a warrant to Klahn at the time of his arrest and while he was detained in the Santa Rita Jail; and (4) Alameda County failed to take Klahn before a magistrate within 48 hours of his arrest. See Id. at 10-15.

         Addressing the medical-care claim, Alameda County argues that it fails for two reasons. See Id. at 10-12. First, Alameda County observes that Klahn asserts a new allegation related to this claim: Alameda County failed to provide Klahn with adequate water that did not contain fluoride. Id. at 10. According to Alameda County, the allegation establishes that Klahn was in fact provided with water. Id. Alameda County further asserts that Klahn has failed to present authority for the proposition that detainees have a constitutional right to drinking water that does not contain fluoride. Id. at 10-11. Second, Alameda County asserts that, as in his prior complaints, Klahn fails to allege facts establishing government-entity liability in accordance with Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Mot. at 11-12. In support of this assertion, Alameda County claims that Klahn's allegations do not establish an official custom, policy, pattern, or act ratified by a policymaker. Id. Rather, according to Alameda County, the allegations suggest that any alleged harm resulted from individualized conduct. Id.

         Contending that Klahn's telephone-calls claim fails, Alameda County argues that, to comport with Monell, Klahn had to allege facts demonstrating that policymakers were on actual or constructive notice that an Alameda County policy would result in a constitutional violation. Id. at 12. Alameda County asserts that Klahn's allegations fail to meet that requirement and are indicative of an individual's conduct, not a failure by policymakers. Id. at 12-13.

         Alameda County next addresses Klahn's suggestion that his arrest was warrantless in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Id. at 13-14. Alameda County argues that it is not liable for the actions of Dublin Police Department officers. Id. at 13. It also argues that Klahn's reliance on the Fourteenth Amendment for this claim constitutes an improper recharacterization of a Fourth Amendment claim, but, even if the claim were cognizable, Klahn has failed to allege facts that meet the requirements of Monell. Id. at 13-14.

         Turning to Klahn's claim that Alameda County violated his right to be taken to a magistrate, Alameda County argues that one of the statutes that Klahn cites-California Penal Code section 975-does not exist, that the claim constitutes another improper recharacterization of a Fourth Amendment claim, and that the claim would nevertheless fail to meet Monell's requirements had it been asserted properly. Id. at 14.

         Citing Rule 8(a)(2), Alameda County also contends that the TAC as a whole fails to provide a short and plain statement of Klahn's claims. Alameda County argues that the TAC contains extraneous allegations, long and rambling paragraphs, and assertions that do not clarify their underlying legal theories or the defendants to whom they pertain. Id. at 15.

         c. The Motion for a More Definite Statement

         Acknowledging that it is a disfavored motion, Alameda County finally requests that the Court order Klahn to file a more definite statement in accordance with Rule 12(e). Mot. at 15-16. Alameda County argues that requiring Klahn to provide a more definite statement is appropriate in this instance because the TAC is so deficient that Alameda County cannot discern the nature or bases of Klahn's claims and formulate a cogent response. Id.

         2. ...


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