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Green v. County of Yuba

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 26, 2019

JUSTIN GREEN, individually and doing business as GREEN SOLUTIONS, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF YUBA; JEREMY STRANG, individually and in his official capacity; JOHN JACENICH, individually and in his official capacity; MELANIE MARQUEZ, individually and in her official capacity; and DOES 1-10 inclusive, Defendants.



         This case arises from the abatement of an alleged public nuisance related to unpermitted structures and marijuana cultivation on property owned by Justin Green (“Green” or “Plaintiff”). Second Am. Compl. (“SAC”), ECF No. 14. Green sued Yuba County (the “County”) and several Yuba County employees (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging the unlawful seizure and destruction of property. Id. Defendants move to dismiss for a second time. Mot., ECF No. 17. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion.[1]


         A recitation of the factual allegations in this case can be found in a prior order issued by the Court. See Green v. Cty. of Yuba, No. 2:18-CV-02234-JAM-AC, 2019 WL 827638, at *1-2 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 21, 2019). The Court will not repeat the factual allegations in this order.

         In the prior order, the Court dismissed Green's First, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Causes of Action and granted him leave to amend his Monell claims against the County. Id. at *8. Green then amended his complaint with additional allegations. See SAC. Defendants now move to dismiss Green's amended Fourth Amendment Monell claim and his reference to suing the individual Defendants in their official capacities. See Mot. Green has filed an opposition, Opp'n, ECF No. 18, to which Defendants have replied, Reply, ECF No. 19.

         II. OPINION

         A. Judicial Notice

         Defendants ask this Court to take judicial notice of four state court actions and one federal court actions. RJN, ECF No. 17-2. The SAC references these cases as factual evidence in support of Green's Monell claim. See SAC at 9-10. Green does not oppose and joins in the request. Opp'n at 2. Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants' Request for Judicial Notice of the relevant state and federal court actions.

         B. Official Capacity Claims

         In his Opposition, Green concedes that it is redundant to name an individual defendant in his or her official capacity while simultaneously suing the public entity. Opp'n at 7. Green, however, also argues that the Court may only dismiss redundant claims like this if the defendant is named only in an official capacity. See Id. (citing Ctr. for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cty. Sheriff Dep't, 533 F.3d 780, 799 (9th Cir. 2008)). The Court does not agree with Green's contorted reading of Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and will dismiss the official capacity claims as redundant. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) (“[A]n official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit against the entity.”). Green's individual capacity claims remain.

         C. Fourth Amendment Monell Claims

         Green names the County as a defendant in each of his constitutional claims. SAC at 10-12. The County moves to dismiss Green's Fourth Amendment Monell claim for failure to allege a municipal custom or practice. Mot. Mem. at 4-5.

         Municipalities may be held liable under Section 1983 for constitutional injuries inflicted through a municipal policy or custom. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). To establish municipal liability under Section 1983, a plaintiff must show that (1) he was deprived of a constitutional right; (2) the municipality had a policy; (3) the policy amounted to a deliberate indifference to his constitutional right; and (4) the policy was the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1070 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal citations and quotations omitted). To properly state a Monell claim, allegations in a complaint “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.” AE ex rel. Hernandez v. Cty. of Tulare, 666 F.3d 631, 637 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011)).

         In the SAC, Green asserts that the harm he suffered was not an isolated instance for several reasons. SAC at 9. First, he cites to the number of nuisance notices and orders issued by the County (280 between 2015 and 2018), and the number appealed (35). Id. Second, he alleges that 221 of those 280 notices and orders have resulted in executed inspection and abatement warrants and that there have been five post-deprivation hearing since 2015. Id. Third, he asserts that the four state court lawsuits against the County for illegal assessment of fines, penalties, and abatement actions are evidence of a custom, policy, or ...

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