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Martinez v. City of Brisbane

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 20, 2017

MARIA THERESA MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF BRISBANE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

          William H. Orrick United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         This case is one of several arising out of a child dependency matter and the removal of plaintiffs Anthony Grimes's and Theresa Martinez's three minor children from a home in Brisbane on April 19, 2016, by Geraldine Ayerdis, a San Francisco protective services social worker. Three Brisbane police officers, S. Sevilla, L. Olson, and Shaun Hunt, provided a civil standby for Ayerdis while she entered the home, questioned the minor children, and removed them from the property. Grimes has brought claims against the City of Brisbane, Brisbane Police Chief Lisa Macias, and Officers A. Sevilla, L. Olson, and Shaun Hunt (collectively “the Brisbane Defendants”) for their involvement in the removal in the case Grimes v. City of Brisbane, No. 17-cv-2016-WHO. The children's mother, Maria Theresa Martinez, has brought a parallel lawsuit against the same defendants in related case Martinez v. City of Brisbane, No. 17-cv-1025-WHO. She brings identical claims and alleges the same facts.[1] Id.

         The Brisbane Defendants have moved to dismiss both cases against them for failure to state a claim. They also argue that Ayerdis and the City and County of San Francisco are indispensable parties to these actions and should be joined as defendants if the cases proceed. Plaintiffs Grimes and Martinez have not stated facts that would allow claims against the Brisbane Defendants; I will GRANT the motions to dismiss and give plaintiffs leave to amend their complaints.[2] I will not address the indispensable party argument at this time.

         BACKGROUND

         Grimes and Martinez allege that on April 18, 2016, the Brisbane police officers “provided a civil stand by for San Francisco county worker Geraldine Ayerdis” while she attempted to remove their three minor children from Martinez's home in Brisbane, California. Grimes Complaint at 10 (17-cv-1026, Dkt. No. 1); Martinez Complaint at 11 (17-cv-1025, Dkt. No. 1).[3]Ayerdis reportedly told the Brisbane officers that the children were in danger from Grimes and that the children were protected parties in a restraining order against him. Id. The officers and Ayerdis went to the Brisbane home around 7:00 p.m. on April 18, 2016. Id. They did not have a warrant to enter or search the property. Id. Ayerdis and the officers knocked on the home's security gate and flashed lights on the home. Id. Ayerdis began making phone calls to the children's mother, Martinez, explaining that she wanted to check on the children. Id. She informed Martinez that if she was not let into the house she would obtain a warrant. Id.

         Around 3:00 a.m. on April 19, 2016, Martinez returned Ayerdis's calls and “believing the lies” that Ayerdis wanted to check on the children's safety allowed Ayerdis and the Brisbane officers to enter the home. Grimes Complaint. at 10-11; Martinez Complaint at 11-12. The Brisbane police officers then “began searching the home of the children” for Grimes. Grimes Complaint at 11; Martinez Complaint at 12. They then “assisted” Ayerdis “in the warrantless removal of the plaintiff children from their home.”[4] Id.

         Based on these allegations, Grimes and Martinez bring the same six claims against the Brisbane defendants in two separate complaints: (1) officers A. Sevilla, L. Olson, and Shaun Hunt violated the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights by attempting to remove the children from their home around 7:00 p.m. on April 18, 2016 (2) this conduct also violated plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment rights; (3) officers A. Sevilla, L. Olson, and Shaun Hunt violated plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights by assisting in removing the children from their home around 3:00 a.m. on April 19, 2016; (4) this conduct also violated plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment Rights; (5) the City of Brisbane and Police Chief Lisa Macias violated plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights because they failed to properly train the officers; and (6) the City of Brisbane and Police Chief Lisa Macias violated plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment rights because they failed to properly train the officers. Grimes Complaint at 15-16; Martinez Complaint at 16-17.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff pleads facts that “allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). There must be “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. While courts do not require “heightened fact pleading of specifics, ” a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.

         In deciding whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court accepts the plaintiff's allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Usher v. City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the court is not required to accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” See In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008).

         If the court dismisses the complaint, it “should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000). In making this determination, the court should consider factors such as “the presence or absence of undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party and futility of the proposed amendment.” See Moore v. Kayport Package Express, 885 F.2d 531, 538 (9th Cir.1989).

         DISCUSSION

         Grimes and Martinez have failed to allege sufficient facts to state a constitutional claim against any of the ...


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