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Woods v. City of Los Angeles

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 28, 2018

THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES, et al., Defendants.




         Plaintiff Anthony Shawn Woods (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a first amended civil rights complaint (“FAC”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) against various defendants alleging a “longstanding policy, practice and custom” of violating the constitutional rights of homeless persons in Los Angeles. See ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 7 at 4.[1] For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses the FAC with leave to amend.


         On December 8, 2017, Plaintiff constructively filed[2] a civil rights complaint (“Complaint”). Dkt. 1. The Complaint sued the City of Los Angeles (“City”), Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”), Los Angeles County Probation Department (“Probation”) (collectively, the “Entity Defendants”), and Los Angeles County Probation Officer [FNU] Riley (“Riley”) in his individual and official capacities (collectively, “Defendants”). Id. at 3-4. The Complaint alleged Defendants had a “longstanding policy, practice, [and] custom” of violating “due process” and “Federal Injunctions” with respect to homeless individuals. Id.

         On January 11, 2018, Plaintiff constructively filed the FAC against Defendants. Dkt. 7, FAC at 1, 3-4. The FAC alleges Defendants have a “longstanding policy, practice and custom” of “due process violations and misconduct involving the homeless” in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 3-6.

         According to the FAC, in early April 2016, the LAPD handcuffed Plaintiff and others who reside in Skid Row in Los Angeles for sitting on the sidewalk and checked their statuses for probation, parole, and outstanding warrants. Id. at 5. Plaintiff claims LAPD officer Clark and his partner then issued tickets for “laying, sleeping or sitting on the sidewalk” in violation of municipal code 41.18(d). Id. The FAC alleges officer Clark said Plaintiff was “on the Lt. Mathis shitlist” and because Plaintiff was “still on probation, ” he should “watch [his] ass.” Id.

         In late May 2016, Plaintiff alleges Lt. Mathis and Sgt. Padilla stopped Plaintiff, and Lt. Mathis asked Plaintiff if he “liked [his] freedom” before handcuffing Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff claims Lt. Mathis then said he would “talk to his people at probation and have [Plaintiff] violated, ” after which “probation and parole w[ould] just rubber stamp [Lt. Mathis's] request.” Id. at 5-6. The FAC alleges Lt. Mathis said his “higher ups” gave an “order” to clean up Skid Row, and Lt. Mathis added he would “use every viable tool” so that the homeless, probationers, and parolees would “get tired of tickets and going to jail” and leave Skid Row. Id.

         On June 2, 2016, Plaintiff alleges his probation officer, defendant Riley, handed Plaintiff a notice of his pending discharge of June 4, 2016. Id. at 6. Plaintiff further alleges defendant Riley told Plaintiff, “You are no longer to report to probation.” Id. Approximately four months later on or about October 1, 2016, Plaintiff claims he was “arrested for failure to report” even though he did not receive “notice from probation telling or informing [Plaintiff] that [his probation] was extended or [he] was to start reporting again.” Id. “As a result of this arrest, [Plaintiff] lost all [his] property [when] LAPD and [the Los Angeles Sanitation Bureau] LASB destroyed [his] property without a hearing or notice.” Id.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 7. Plaintiff also seeks an order requiring the City and LAPD to refrain from issuing tickets for violations of municipal code 41.18(d) to “the homeless or persons that appear homeless.” Id.


         As Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the FAC and is required to dismiss the case at any time if it concludes the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998).

         In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for screening purposes, the Court applies the same pleading standard as it would when evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim “where there is no cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory.” Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2007). In considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all of the material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). However, the court need not accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Although a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)). A claim is facially plausible when it “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference ...

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