United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS, RE: DKT., NO. 11
ILLSTON United States District Judge
before the Court is defendant City of Martinez's motion
to dismiss plaintiff Barbara Lefiell's complaint. Dkt.
No. 11. Plaintiff has filed an opposition to the motion. Dkt.
No. 31. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN
PART and DENIES IN PART defendant's motion to dismiss the
complaint. Any amended complaint must be filed not
later than May 18, 2018.
filed the instant complaint on January 24, 2018. Dkt. No. 1.
According to Ms. Lefiell, on March 28, 2017, she was
“struck and severely injured” by an Amtrak train
while waiting at a railroad crossing in Martinez, California.
Compl. ¶ 1. In her most specific iteration, plaintiff
claims that while waiting on a platform near the Amtrak
station, she was “struck by Amtrak's
train…operating on tracks and property owned and
controlled by Defendant.” Id. ¶ 12.
Plaintiff alleges that defendant was responsible for the
design, supervision, operation, and evaluation of the
platform, sidewalk, and general area where the accident
occurred. Id. According to Ms. Lefiell, defendant
was negligent in overseeing and maintaining the accident
site, thereby creating a dangerous condition. The alleged
negligence includes “negligent and careless
maintenance, design, construction, management, repair,
inspection, fencing, railing, approaching sidewalks, placing
and allowing a platform and sidewalk to be placed too close
to the railroad tracks…or that the accident site had
no warnings, warning signs, barriers, and/or flashing lights
and other signals alerting the public…and plaintiff of
the dangerous condition.” Id. ¶ 20. Ms.
Lefiell alleges that defendant was aware of this dangerous
condition because “other members of the public have
been struck by moving railroad equipment at and near the
accident site.” Id. ¶ 22.
complaint alleges two causes of action: (1) violation of
Government Code sections 835, 815.2(A), 815.6, 835.2, and
840.4 against defendants City of Martinez, State of
California, County of Contra Costa, and Does 1-50; and (2)
negligence against defendants Union Pacific, Amtrak, Brian
Smith, and Does 51-100. Essentially, Ms. Lefiell seeks to
hold the City liable for (1) dangerous condition of public
property; and (2) public employee negligence.
City of Martinez filed a motion to dismiss on February 22,
2018. Dkt. No. 11. Defendant argues plaintiff's complaint
should be dismissed because plaintiff's single cause of
action against the City conflates separate theories of
liability that are either inapplicable or inapposite. As a
result, defendant argues plaintiff's complaint fails to
conform to F.R.C.P. 8. (Defendant concedes plaintiff has pled
an appropriate cause of action under Government Code section
835, but argues that plaintiff otherwise fails to state a
claim.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on March 7, 2018. Dkt.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
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.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). This “facial plausibility”
standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up
to “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). 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.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.
deciding whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which
relief can be granted, the court must assume that the
plaintiff's allegations are true and must draw all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. 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.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig.,
536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008).
Court dismisses the complaint, it must then decide whether to
grant leave to amend. The Ninth Circuit has “repeatedly
held that a district court 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.” Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations
and internal quotation marks omitted). Dismissal of a pro se
complaint without leave to amend is proper only if it is
“absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the
complaint could not be cured by amendment.” Noll v.
Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987)(quoting
Broughton v. Cutter Labs., 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th
Cir. 1980)); see also Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202,
1212 (9th Cir. 2012).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, plaintiffs must
“plead a short and plain statement of the elements of
his or her claim.” Bautista v. Los Angeles
County, 216 F.3d 837, 840 (9th Cir. 2000). “Each
allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). Dismissal is appropriate under Rule 8
where a complaint is “argumentative, prolix, replete
with redundancy and largely irrelevant.” McHenry v.
Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177, 1178-79 (9th Cir. 1996);
see also Nevijel v. North Coast Life Ins. Co., 651
F.2d 671, 673-74 (9th Cir. 1981) (affirming dismissal of
complaint that was “verbose, confusing and
conclusory”). “Something labeled a complaint but
... prolix in evidentiary detail, yet without simplicity,
conciseness and clarity as to whom plaintiffs are suing for
what wrongs, fails to perform the essential functions of a
complaint.” McHenry, 84 F.3d at 1180. Such a
complaint only serves to “impose ...