United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS [Doc.
Nos. 41, 43.]
Cathy Ann Bencivengo United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendants the City of
Carlsbad, Michael Bodman and Kevin Granse's (collectively
“Carlsbad Defendants”) motion to dismiss [Doc No.
41], and on Defendants County of San Diego, Laura Weber, and
Luis Abano, Tammy Esslinger and Alvo Gonzo's
(collectively “County Defendants”) motion to
dismiss [Doc. No. 43]. The motions have been fully briefed,
and the Court finds them suitable for submission without oral
arguments. For the following reasons, Carlsbad and County
Defendants' motions are GRANTED.
JL, who proceeds pro se, filed his original suit on
January 3, 2017. [Doc. No. 1.] The Carlsbad Defendants and
the County Defendants each filed motions to dismiss [Doc.
Nos. 16, 21] the original complaint which the Court granted
with leave to amend [Doc. No. 35]. On March 24, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”). [Doc. No. 40.] His factual allegations,
accepted as true, are as follows.
2015, Plaintiff's minor child (“MC”) attended
the Carlsbad Summer Camp at the Stagecoach Community Center
& Park in the City of Carlsbad. [Id. at ¶
MC was interviewed by an anonymous person at the camp without
Plaintiff's consent. [Id.] The anonymous
interviewer “insisted that the MC be confined in a
separate room with AP [anonymous person] alone, and not be
allowed to leave until the MC answered all of the AP's
question.” [Id. at ¶ 30.] No other
individuals were present at the interview. [Id.]
unidentified point, either before or after the interview, two
administrators of the camp, Defendants Bodman and Granse,
relayed the suspected child abuse to the County of San
Diego's Child Welfare Services Agency
(“CWS”). [Id. at 43.] Both Bodman and
Granse are mandatory reporters under California law.
[Id. at 45.]
the submission of the report, Defendants Weber and Esslinger,
CWS case workers, “interacted with Plaintiff, and made
false accusations of child abuse…” and
“ostensibly followed CWS policies for their
casework.” [Id. at ¶ 58.]
supervising managers, Defendants Abano and Gonzo “were
actively involved in all phases of CWS'
investigation.” [Id.] After receiving the
alleged complaint, Abano and Gonzo “reviewed the
complaint for accuracy and against some standard of care and
due diligence, and signed off on the case (eventually) as
unfounded, but after Plaintiff had been harmed by placing of
his name on the Child Abuse Central Index
(“CACI”).” [sic] [Id.] Plaintiff
believes that his name was entered into the Child Abuse
Central Index (“CACI”) prior to CWS performing an
investigation in the allegations of abuse. [Id. at
63.] Plaintiff is concerned that this unfounded allegation
could detrimentally effect his security clearance, future
employment and FAA pilot's license. [Id.
¶¶ 78, 83, 85, 86.]
asserts claims against Defendants for violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On April 5,
2017, Carlsbad Defendants filed their motion seeking to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [Doc.
No. 41.] On April 11, 2017, County Defendants filed a motion
to dismiss. [Doc. No. 43.] Plaintiff filed his oppositions to
the motions [Doc. Nos. 51, 52.] and Defendants filed their
replies [Doc. Nos. 54, 55].
Rule 12(b)(6), a party may bring a motion to dismiss based on
the failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of
a complaint as failing to allege “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). For purposes of ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the
court “accept[s] factual allegations in the complaint
as true and construe[s] the pleadings in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party.” Manzarek v. St.
Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031
(9th Cir. 2008).
under the liberal pleading standard of Rule 8(a)(2), which
requires only that a party make “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” a “pleading that offers
‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“[C]onclusory allegations of law and unwarranted
inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to
dismiss.” Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179,
1183 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Starr v. Baca, 652
F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011) (“[A]llegations in a
complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements
of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations
of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the
opposing party to defend itself effectively.”).
“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. Because JL proceeds pro se, the Court
construes his filings liberally. Hebbe v. Pliler,
627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).
“[w]hile the court must construe pro se
pleadings liberally and afford plaintiff the benefit of the
doubt, even pro se plaintiffs must allege, with a
least some degree of particularity, overt acts taken by each
defendant which support his claim.” Rasidescu v.
Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 435 F.Supp.2d 1090, 1099
(S.D. Cal. 2006). Simply put, “the main purpose of a
complaint is to provide notice of what plaintiff's claim
is and the grounds upon which the claim rests . . . . [The]
plaintiff must at least set forth enough details so as to
provide a defendant and the court with a fair idea of the
basis of the complaint and the legal grounds claimed for
recovery.” Self Directed Placement Corp. v. Control
Data Corp., 908 F.2d 462, 466 (9th Cir. 1990) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). A complaint that lacks
“simplicity, conciseness and clarity as to whom
plaintiffs are suing for what wrongs, fails to perform the
essential elements of a complaint.” Bielma v.
Bostic, Case No.: 15cv1606-MMA (BLM), 2016 WL 29624, *8
(S.D. Cal. Jan. 4, 2016) (quoting McHenry v. Renne,
84 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 1996)).
Request for Judicial Notice
motion to dismiss stage a court may consider materials
incorporated into the complaint or matters of public record,
without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for
summary judgment. Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg. 593
F.3d 1031, 1038 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted);
United States v. Ritchie, 432 F.3d 903, 908 (9th
Cir. 2003). The Ninth Circuit has extended the
“incorporation by reference” doctrine to take
into account documents “whose contents are alleged in a
complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but
which are not physically attached to the [plaintiff's]
pleading.” Id.; See Knievel v. ESPN,
393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005); see also Parrino v.
FHP, Inc., 146 F.3d 699, 706 (9th Cir. 1998).
document may be incorporated by reference into a complaint,
even if a document is not attached to the complaint, if the
plaintiff refers extensively to the document or the document
forms the basis of the plaintiff's claim. See Van
Buskirk v. CNN,284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002).
“The defendant may offer such a document, and the
district court may treat such a document as part of the
complaint, and thus may assume that its contents are true for
purposes of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).”
U.S. v. Ritchie, 432 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003).
“The rationale underlying this exception is that the
primary problem raised by looking to documents outside the
complaint-lack of notice to the plaintiff-is dissipated
[w]here plaintiff has actual notice . . . and has relied upon
these documents in ...