United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER RE: DEFENDANT DEANCO HEALTHCARE'S MOTION TO
STRIKE AND MOTION TO DISMISS [DKT. NOS. 120 AND 121]
D. PREGERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the court is Defendan t Deanco Healthcare, LLC, d/b/a
Mission Community Hospital (“MCH”)'s Motion
to Strike portions of Plaintiff Donald Austen's Third
Amended Complaint (“TAC”) pursuan t to Rule 12(f)
and Motion to Dismiss Monell claims in the first and
second causes of action in the TAC pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).
Having considered the parties' submissions, the court
adopts the following Order.
Donald Austen is the president and founder of the non-profit
Thursday's Child, a “national charity for
endangered children.” (TAC ¶ 3.) On February 2,
Austen contacted the Los Angeles County Department of Public
Social Services (“DPSS”) to inquire about mental
health grants for Thursday's Child. (Id. ¶
18.) The next day, Austen and Jessica Cruz, an employee of
the Mental Health Services division of DPSS spoke by phone.
(Id. ¶ 19.) Although the parties dispute the
specific details of the conversation, they do not dispute
that Cruz called 911 afterwards. (Id. ¶ 25.)
Cruz informed the 911 operator that Austen had purportedly
made suicidal statements and threats towards others,
including Ms. Cruz and the police. (Id. ¶¶
27-32.) Austen denies making any of these statements.
(Id.) In response to the call, the Los Angeles
Police Department dispatched officers to Plaintiff's
house. (Id. ¶¶ 33-34.) One of the units
sent was a team focused on mental health responses and was
comprised of Officer Alfredo Morales and his partner, Sandra
Holguin, a registered psychiatric nurse employed by the Los
Angeles County Department of Mental Health. (Id.
¶ 38.) After an encounter with Plaintiff at his
residence, Morales and Holguin took Plaintiff into custody to
perform a psychiatric evaluation. (Id. ¶¶
38-44.) Plaintiff was then detained under Welfare and
Institutions Code Section 5150, which provides that
[w]hen a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is
a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely
disabled, a peace officer, professional person in charge of a
facility designated by the county for evaluation and
treatment, member of the attending staff . . . or
professional person designated by the county may, upon
probable cause, take, or cause to be taken, the person into
custody for a period of up to 72 hours for assessment,
evaluation, and crisis intervention, or placement for
evaluation and treatment in a facility designated by the
county for evaluation and treatment and approved by the State
Department of Health Care Services.
Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 5150(a). Plaintiff was
then transferred to Mission Community Hospital where he was
held for seventy-two hours for evaluation and observation.
Plaintiff's care was handled by Dr. Hassan Farrag and
Plaintiff was ultimately released on February 7, 2015.
(Id. ¶¶ 44, 60-62, 87.)
brought suit alleging that his detention was not justified by
probable cause, as required by section 5150. Plaintiff's
First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) asserted eleven
causes of action against the County of Los Angeles, Jessica
Cruz, and Sandra Holguin (the “County
Defendants”); City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police
Department, and Alfredo Morales (the “City
Defendants”); and Denaco Healthcare (d/b/a MCH).
Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, violations of his
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, multiple violations of WIC § 5150, false arrest
and imprisonment, negligent and intentional infliction of
emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. (See
FAC.) The gravamen of Plaintiff's case is that Cruz
intentionally made false statements to the police so that
Plaintiff would be detained under section 5150, and that the
officers, nurses, and doctors who interacted with Plaintiff
during this incident failed to meet their various obligations
by giving undue weight to Cruz's statements while
ignoring their own observations that Plaintiff presented no
threat to himself or others.
FAC, Plaintiff makes a number of references to individual
defendants acting in accordance with the “policies and
practices” of their respective departments.
(See FAC ¶¶ 22, 24, 26, 31, 71 (alleging
that Cruz's initial decision to call the police was in
accordance with County policies and practice); id.
¶ 47 (alleging that Officer Morales followed police
practices and polices when deciding whether to detain
Plaintiff); id. ¶¶ 49, 54, 58 (alleging
that MCH's admittance and evaluation of Plaintiff was
conducted in accordance with policies and practices).)
Plaintiff also names several municipal defendants in the FAC.
Plaintiff does not, however, expressly articulate a claim for
municipal liability or invoke Monell v. Dept of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 701 (1978), in the FAC.
February 28, 2017, Plaintiff moved for leave to file a Second
Amended Complaint to specifically allege Monell
claims. The court granted the motion in part, allowing
Plaintiff “to file a Second Amended Complaint for the
sole purpose of alleging a claim for Monell
liability against Defendant MCH on the ground specified in
this Order.” (Dkt. 107 at 12.) That ground, as
explained in the Order, was the contention that
“MCH's policies for handling section 5150 hold
applications are inconsistent with the legal requirement that
an individual be afforded an in-person assessment prior to a
seventy-two hour admission for evaluation and
treatment.” (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff was not
granted leave to add Monell claims against other
City and County Defendants.
April 17, 2017, Plaintiff timely filed a Second Amended
Complaint. (Dkt. 111.) Counsel for Plaintiff and MCH then
engaged in a telephonic meet and confer where they discussed
the possibility of MCH filing a motion to dismiss the
Monell claims. (Def. MCH Mot. Strike
(“MTS”) at 7; Pl. Opp'n Mot. Strike (MTS
Opp'n) at 1.) Rather than file an unnecessary motion, the
parties stipulated to allow Plaintiff to file “a Third
Amended Complaint on or before May 8, 2017, so as to plead a
Monell claim against MCH.” (Dkt. 116.) The
court approved the stipulation, and Plaintiff filed the
instant Third Amended Complaint. (Dkts. 117, 118.)
MCH now moves to strike specific portions of the TAC and to
dismiss Plaintiff's Monell claims against MCH in
the first and second causes of action of the TAC.
Motion to Strike
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), the “Court may
strike from a pleading . . . any redundant, immaterial,
impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f).
Immaterial matter is that which has no bearing on the claims
for relief or the defenses being pled. Whittlestone, Inc.
v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 974 (9th Cir. 2010).
Impertinent matter consists of statements that do not pertain
and are not necessary to the issues in question. Id.
The court has the discretion to strike an entire pleading or
portions thereof. MGA Entm't, Inc. v. Mattel,
Inc., No. CV 05-2727 NM (RNBx), 2005 WL 5894689, at *4
(C.D. Cal. Aug. 26, 2005). Generally, motions to strike are
“disfavored, ” and “courts are reluctant to
determine disputed or substantial questions of law on a
motion to strike.” Whittlestone, 618 F.3d at
1165-66; see also Miller v. Fuhu, Inc., No.
2:14-cv-06119-CAS (ASx), 2014 WL 4748299, at *1, (C.D. Cal.
Sept. 22, 2014). In considering a motion to strike, the court
views the pleadings in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. See In re 2TheMart.com Secs.
Litig., 114 F.Supp.2d 955, 965 (C.D. Cal. 2000)).
Grounds for a motion to strike must be readily apparent from
the face of the pleadings or from materials that may be
judicially noticed. Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984
F.2d 1524, 1528 (9th Cir. 1993) rev'd on other
grounds, 510 U.S. 517 (1994).
Motion to Dismiss
complaint will survive a motion to dismiss when it contains
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court
must “accept as true all allegations of material fact
and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff.” Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d
443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). Although a complaint need not
include “detailed factual allegations, ” it must
offer “more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Conclusory allegations or
allegations that are no more than a statement of a legal
conclusion “are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Id. at 679. In other words, a pleading
that merely offers “labels and conclusions, ” a
“formulaic recitation of the elements, ” or
“naked assertions” will not be sufficient to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Id.
at 678 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should
assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement of relief.”
Id. at 679. Plaintiff must allege “plausible
grounds to infer” that their claims rise “above
the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. “Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief” is a
“context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.