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Dominguez v. County of Los Angeles

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 1, 2018

Susan Dominguez
County of Los Angeles

          Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Cuan-Chen K. Liao

          Attorneys Present for Defendants: Ashley S. Feder Devin Weisberg

          Present: The Honorable GEORGE H. WU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.



         Court hears oral argument. The Tentative circulated and attached hereto, is adopted as the Court's Final Ruling. Plaintiff's Motion to Remand is denied; Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted with leave to amend. Plaintiff will have until March 22, 2018 to file a Second Amended Complaint.

         The scheduling conference set for March 8, 2018, is continued to April 5, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.

         Susan Dominguez v. LA Cty. Sheriff's Dept., et al.; No. 2:18-cv-371-GW-(AGRx) Tentative Rulings on: (1) County Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and (2) Plaintiff's Motion to Remand

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Susan Dominguez brings this action against Defendants: 1) Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (“LASD”); 2) Jim McDonnell, the Los Angeles County Sheriff; 3) Hank Ortega, an LASD Deputy Sheriff; 4) Curtis Jensen, an LASD Deputy Sheriff; 5) Jeremy Licona, an LASD Deputy Sheriff; 6) the Los Angeles Office of the County Counsel (“OCC”); 7) Mary Wickham, [1] the Los Angeles County Counsel; and 8) Daniel Ybarra.[2] See generally First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), Docket No. 1 at 12-26 of 66. Plaintiff brings five causes of action: 1) negligent hiring, training, supervision, retention, and entrustment against LASD, McDonnell, Ortega, and Jensen; 2) “violation of right to due process of law” against LASD, McDonnell, Ortega, Licona, and Jensen; 3) “failure to intervene to prevent civil rights violations” against LASD, McDonnell, Ortega, Jenson, OCC, and Wickham; 4) “conspiracy to violate Plaintiff's right to due process” against Ybarra and Licona; and 5) battery against Ybarra. See generally id.

         Plaintiff pleads the following relevant facts:

         For two years, Plaintiff had rented a room from Ybarra, with whom she also “maintained a relationship in cohabitation.” Id. ¶ 17. On or about January 1, 2017, Plaintiff was physically assaulted by Ybarra, causing her physical injury. Id. ¶ 18. After the assault, Ybarra left the residence and shortly thereafter “a man whom Plaintiff did not know handed Plaintiff eviction papers.” Id. LASD Deputy Sheriffs, including Licona, then came to the residence. Id. ¶ 19. Licona had been to the residence on at least three prior occasions because “Ybarra had been intoxicated and belligerent.” Id. ¶ 27. On the last of these visits, Licona told Plaintiff that he did not want to come to the residence again and that Plaintiff should leave. Id.

         At or near the time the Deputy Sheriffs arrived on January 1, 2017, Ybarra returned to the residence. Id. ¶ 19. Ybarra was placed in the back of a police vehicle and Plaintiff was told that he would be arrested. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff was offered medical care but refused and left the residence. Id. Plaintiff returned the following day to discover that the locks had been changed. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff contacted the LASD and was told that it would take no action because Ybarra was not home. Id. Instead, Plaintiff was instructed to return the following day. Id. Plaintiff returned the following day and Ybarra, now present at the residence, threatened her with a metal pipe. Id. ¶ 22. LASD Deputy Sheriffs, including Licona, came to the residence and ordered Plaintiff to leave and stay away or she would be arrested. Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff told the LASD Deputy Sheriffs that she needed to retrieve medications from the residence. Id. ¶ 24. She was given five minutes to do so but when she entered the residence she was unable to find the medications because all of her belongings had been “packed into plastic bags.” Id. At that point Licona issued an emergency protective order to Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 25. “Plaintiff did not see any signature of a judicial officer on the Protective Order.” Id. Plaintiff “pointed this out” and asked Licona “why she was being prevented from entering her residence when there was no eviction order.” Id. Licona instructed Plaintiff to leave or he would arrest her. Id.

         The following day Plaintiff complained to an unnamed LASD Watch Commander. Id. ¶ 26. In response, Licona told Plaintiff “I am sorry about this but at the end of the day I need to put food on my table.” Id. Plaintiff complained about Licona again to Jensen and Ortega on January 8, 2017. Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff was informed that “her action was found to be justified” and that LASD Deputy Sheriffs would be disciplined. Id. Plaintiff was later informed, however, that the LASD Deputy Sheriffs would not be disciplined because they had done nothing wrong. Id. ¶ 32.

         LASD, Licona, and Wickham were served with this lawsuit on December 14, 2017. See Notice of Removal, Docket No. 1, ¶¶ 2-4. On January 16, 2017, [3] those three defendants, joined by all other defendants, removed to this Court, invoking its federal question jurisdiction. See generally Id. After removal, LASD, McDonnell, Ortega, Jensen, Licona, OCC, and Wickham (collectively, “County Defendants”) moved to dismiss the first four causes of action, arguing that Plaintiff's FAC fails to state claims upon which relief may be granted. See generally Motion to Dismiss (“MTD”), Docket No. 8. Plaintiff moved to remand the matter back to state court, arguing that the FAC fails to raise a substantial federal question. See Motion to Remand (“MTR”), Docket No. 11. Because the Court would only consider the merits of the MTD if it has jurisdiction over the case, the Court will first consider Plaintiff's MTR.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Motion to Remand

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ” and have subject matter jurisdiction only to the extent “authorized by Constitution and statute.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citing Willy v. Coastal Corp., 503 U.S. 131, 136-137 (1992); Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986)). “It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting ...

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