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Adamson v. City & County of San Francisco

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 7, 2017

Lorenzo Adamson, Plaintiff,
City & County San Francisco, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Lorenzo Adamson brings this civil rights action against defendants City and County of San Francisco (“CCSF”) and Gregory Suhr alleging a single claim under 42 U.S.C. section 1983for violation of his Constitutional rights to equal protection, due process, and to be free from selective or malicious prosecution and pre-trial punishment. (See Dkt. No. 23, First Amended Complaint [“FAC”] ¶¶ 45.)

         Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss the FAC and to Strike certain allegations. The motion to dismiss is based upon claim preclusion and failure to state a claim. The motion to strike pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) is based on the contention that certain allegations related to Suhr are “redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter.”

         Having carefully considered the papers submitted and the pleadings in this action, the matters judicially noticeable, [1] and for the reasons set forth below, the Court Grants In Part and Denies In Part the Motion to Dismiss With Leave To Amend. The motion to strike certain allegations is Denied.

         I. Background

         Adamson alleges that he is black man, a peace officer, and a long-time employee of the San Francisco Police Department (“SFPD”). He was hired by SFPD as a peace officer on June 1, 1998. On May 30, 2013, Adamson was subjected to a traffic stop by three SFPD officers. Adamson was off-duty and on a disability leave. He was operating his personal vehicle without license plates attached. Though Adamson repeatedly identified himself as a peace officer, he was tackled, dragged to the ground, and arrested. On June 4, 2013, Adamson and his then-attorney held a press conference criticizing the police conduct in connection with the May 30 arrest, and decried the incident as racial-profiling and part of a larger problem within SFPD. Sometime thereafter, SFPD initiated an investigation and placed Adamson on suspension.

         On November 12, 2013, Adamson filed a civil suit (Adamson I) against CCSF, Suhr, and the individual officers involved in the arrest alleging excessive force, violation of equal protection, and violation of due process. (RJN Exh. B.) That action progressed through discovery and motion practice.

         On April 14, 2014, during the pendency of Adamson I, a criminal complaint was filed against Adamson at the behest of SFPD and Suhr, charging him with resisting arrest, both as a felony and misdemeanor, and with various Vehicle Code infractions.

         On June 19, 2014, summary judgment was granted in favor of two defendants, SFPD and Suhr, on the single Monell claim against them in Adamson I.

         Thereafter, the criminal trial ended in acquittals on certain counts and dismissal of the remaining counts in August 2014.

         Meanwhile, the Adamson I civil case proceeded to trial as to the other defendants, ending in jury verdicts in favor of two of the officer defendants, and a hung jury as to the other, on November 15, 2015. On March 10, 2016, the parties entered into a stipulated dismissal of Adamson I.

         Plaintiff alleges that, thereafter, on June 1, 2016, the San Francisco Police Commission determined that he could return to work in his previous capacity and would be awarded backpay.

         Adamson filed the instant action, Adamson II, on August 3, 2016, alleging that Suhr's efforts to terminate him were based on his race and meant to retaliate against him for the public humiliation of the press conference in connection with his civil lawsuit. Adamson alleges that Suhr admitted, on or about October 9, 2014, that the filing of Adamson I led to additional charges and allegations against Adamson in SFPD's efforts to terminate him.

         II. Applicable Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain 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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements” will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. 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). Further, “the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.” Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. Res Judicata/Claim Preclusion Based On ...

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