United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE RE:
DKT. NO. 33
H. KOH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Thomas Medeiros, proceeding pro se, has brought suit
against Defendant City of Palo Alto. Plaintiff asserts one
claim against Defendant for malicious prosecution under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Defendant's
motion to dismiss Plaintiffs third amended complaint. ECF No.
33 (“Mot.”). Having considered the submissions of
the parties, the relevant law, and the record in this case,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss with
was employed by A-1 Septic Tank Services, Inc. as a jetter,
which involves spraying a “high pressure water hose to
remove grease from surfaces.” ECF No. 26 (third amended
complaint, or “TAC”) at ¶ 7. On December 3,
2001, Plaintiff was assigned to provide maintenance for a
grease interceptor located at the Palo Alto Hills Golf and
Country Club. Id. at ¶ 8. A grease interceptor
is “an underground device that filters and separates
kitchen grease from water so as to prevent grease from
entering the sewer system.” Id. Plaintiff left
the Palo Alto Hills Golf and Country Club with a truck filled
with grease. Id. at ¶ 14.
Plaintiff was driving away from the Palo Alto Hills Golf and
Country Club, Plaintiff was stopped by Defendant's
employee Jackie Wilson and accused of “releasing the
grease load into the sewer system causing a backup and
eventual flow into the Matadero Creek.” Id. at
¶ 13. Defendant's officials began to investigate
Plaintiff for allegedly discharging grease from the grease
interceptor into the municipal sewer because Defendant
“deputized” certain employees to carry out
criminal investigations of alleged environmental violations.
Id. at ¶¶ 23-24.
alleges that Defendant's employees deputized to
investigate alleged environmental violations lacked training
or knowledge “of proper criminal procedures when
investigating environmental crimes” and lacked
“training in the protection of a citizen's
constitutional rights when accused of a crime.”
Id. at ¶¶ 26-27. Plaintiff claims that
because of the deputized employees' lack of training,
Defendant failed to: “secure the crime scene”;
“obtain obvious evidence of innocence”;
“secure percipient witness testimony”;
“recognize and supply exculpatory evidence”; and
“preserve direct evidence regarding the alleged
crimes.” Id. at ¶ 30.
was indicted for a felony environmental crime in November
2003. Id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff's pleadings
are unclear as to the specific crime with which Plaintiff was
charged. Plaintiff was tried and convicted of the crime in
May 2005. Id. However, in 2007, Plaintiff's
conviction was overturned by the California Court of Appeal
based on a lack of evidence. Id. at ¶ 18. The
California Court of Appeal issued its remittitur on October
2, 2007. ECF No. 34-2.
timely filed a government claim with Defendant on January 29,
2008. TAC at ¶ 53. Defendant's claims administrator,
an outside company called George Hills Company, Inc.
(“George Hills Co.”), erroneously rejected
Plaintiffs claim as late in correspondence dated February 7,
2008. Id. at ¶ 56. Plaintiff alleges that the
“false information [from George Hills Co. about the
timeliness of Plaintiff s claim was] calculated to lead
[Plaintiff], a pro per claim filer, not to file a lawsuit
against [Defendant].” Id. at ¶ 55.
Plaintiff further alleges that he “reasonably and
justifiably relied upon these misrepresentations [by George
Hills Co.], and believing he had no case to file, failed to
file any lawsuit against [Defendant] within the two-year
limitation period for personal injuries in the state of
California.” Id. at ¶ 66.
to the instant case, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against George
Hills Co. in the California Superior Court for Sacramento
County. The Court will first discuss the Superior Court case,
and then the instant case.
Plaintiffs Lawsuit before the Superior Court for Sacramento
February 8, 2010, Plaintiff filed suit against George Hills
Co. in the Superior Court for Sacramento County. ECF No. 34-1
at 1. Plaintiff brought two claims: intentional
misrepresentation, and negligent misrepresentation.
Id. These two claims were predicated on the fact
that Plaintiff was misled by George Hills Co.'s mistaken
statement that Plaintiffs claim filed with Defendant was
untimely in correspondence dated February 7, 2008. The
Superior Court sustained two demurrers, the latter of which
dismissed Plaintiffs claims without leave to amend.
Medeiros v. George Hills Co., 2013 WL 174852, at *1
(Cal.Ct.App. Jan. 14, 2013). Plaintiff appealed, and on
January 14, 2013, the California Court of Appeal reversed in
part the Superior Court's dismissal of the suit, and
remanded the suit back to the Superior Court. Id. at
*5. On remand, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint
against George Hills Co., but George Hills Co. filed its
answer and then moved for judgment on the pleadings.
Medeiros v. George Hills Co., 2015 WL 4086155, at *1
(Cal.Ct.App. July 7, 2015). The Superior Court granted the
motion for judgment on the pleadings and entered judgment in
favor of George Hills Co. Id. at *1. Plaintiff once
again appealed. On July 7, 2015, the Court of Appeal affirmed
the Superior Court's decision. Id. The
California Supreme Court denied Plaintiff's petition for
review on October 14, 2015. TAC at ¶ 70.
The Instant Case
October 16, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging
malicious prosecution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as the sole
cause of action against Defendant City of Palo Alto. ECF No.
1 at 5. The case was assigned to United States Magistrate
Judge Howard Lloyd. On November 2, 2017, Magistrate Judge
Lloyd entered an order reassigning the case to a District
Judge; granted Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis; and included a report and recommendation to dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint with leave to amend. ECF No. 4. In
the report and recommendation, Magistrate Judge Lloyd noted
that Plaintiff's § 1983 claim against Defendant
required that an alleged constitutional violation be the
product of a municipal policy or custom, but that
Plaintiff's complaint “does not link his injury to
a policy or custom” of Defendant. Id.
Magistrate Judge Lloyd also noted, without deciding, that
Plaintiff's claim may be time barred because California
has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury
actions. Id. at 3-4.
November 2, 2017, the case was reassigned to this Court. ECF
No. 6. On November 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a first amended
complaint alleging malicious prosecution under § 1983 as
the sole cause of action. ECF No. 7 at 4. On January 10,
2018, this Court adopted the report and recommendation,
thereby dismissing the complaint and the first amended
complaint with leave to amend because the first amended
complaint did not cure the defects identified in the report
and recommendation. ECF No. 10 at 5. The Court found that
Plaintiff's complaint and first amended complaint fail to
link Plaintiff's injury to a policy or custom of
Defendant. Id. at 4. Moreover, the Court stated that
“it is unclear how Plaintiffs suit is not time
February 7, 2018, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint
alleging malicious prosecution under § 1983 as the sole
cause of action. ECF No. 12 at ¶¶ 58-67. On
December 4, 2018, the Court screened Plaintiffs complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and dismissed Plaintiffs
second amended complaint without prejudice. ECF No. 25 at 4
(“December 4, 2018 Order”). In particular, the
Court held that “Plaintiffs suit is time-barred under
California's two-year statute of limitations for personal
injury actions.” Id. at 3. The Court also held
that “tolling would not save Plaintiffs [second
amended] complaint.” Id. However, the Court
granted leave to amend because Plaintiffs second amended
complaint contained one allegation that equitable estoppel
tolled the statute of limitations. Id. The Court
warned Plaintiff that “unless Plaintiff can amend his
complaint to allege facts against [Defendant] supporting his
claim of equitable estoppel, the Court will have no choice
but to dismiss [Plaintiffs] claim with prejudice for being
time-barred under California law.” Id. at 4.
January 2, 2019, Plaintiff filed a TAC alleging malicious
prosecution under § 1983 as the sole cause of action.
ECF No. 26 at 8. On March 24, 2019, Defendant filed a motion
to dismiss the TAC. ECF No. 33 (“Mot.”). On April
22, 2019, Plaintiff filed an opposition. ECF No. 42
(“Opp.”). On April 23, Defendant filed a reply.
ECF No. 43 (“Reply”).
Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil ...