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Grizzle v. County of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 8, 2019

ELLIOT SCOTT GRIZZLE, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE RE: MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT BY DEFENDANT AARON DOORMAN [DOC. 98.]

          RUTH BERMUDEZ MONTENEGRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Aaron Boorman ("Boorman") has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (the "Motion") pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 93.) The matter was referred to the undersigned Judge for Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Civil Local Rule 72.1 (c)(1)(d). After a thorough review of the pleadings, supporting documents, and previous orders of the Court in this case, this Court respectfully recommends the Motion be GRANTED.

         II. STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

         Plaintiff alleges he was placed in the administrative segregation housing unit ("Ad-Seg") of the San Diego Central Jail ("SDCJ") while awaiting trial from August 3, 2016, through August 27, 2017. (Doc. 88, at 7-8.) During this period, Plaintiff claims the defendants failed to notify him of the reasons for his placement in Ad-Seg, give him a hearing, or periodically review his placement. (Doc. 88, at 12.) While in Ad-Seg, Plaintiff was allegedly subjected to various conditions of confinement that fell below constitutional standards, including: a daily routine involving multiple security checks; constant illumination; constant noise; interrupted sleep; a choice between sleep and exercise; and the eventual denial of exercise altogether. (Id., at 8-10.) These conditions prevented Plaintiff from sleeping, which caused headaches, muscle aches, the inability to focus or think clearly, stress and anxiety, eye pain, high blood pressure, lowered immune system functioning, severe lethargy and fatigue, infections, impaired motor and cognitive functions, and "a number of other physical and psychological injuries." (Id., at 10.)

         Plaintiff claims he protested the conditions of his confinement to several members of SDCJ staff including Boorman. (Id., at 11-12.) Plaintiff allegedly filed several grievances regarding the conditions and lack of due process, but never received a response. (Id. at 7-13.)

         On March 30, 2017, Plaintiff allegedly sent a letter to defendant Sheriff William Gore protesting the conditions of confinement in Ad-Seg and the defendants' failure to provide him with adequate process. (Id., at 12-13.) On April 18, 2017, Boorman replied in writing that Plaintiffs letter was sent to San Diego Central Jail Administration and that Plaintiffs complaints were being investigated. (Id., at 13-14, 21.) In response to Plaintiffs specific complaints about security checks, noise, and grievance-handling, Boorman wrote: (1) the various security checks were timed in accordance with department policies and procedures; (2) the department was exploring alternate times to distribute hygiene products; (3) it was impossible to completely silence other inmates within the facility despite SDCJ's efforts to discourage excess noisemaking by inmates; (4) teams would receive mandatory training on grievance processing; and (5) although the Sheriffs Department did not intentionally deprive inmates of sleep, sometimes SDCJ procedures interfered with inmates' sleep. (Id. at 21-22.) Despite Plaintiffs efforts, he allegedly never received a hearing, a written decision describing the reasons for his placement in Ad-Seg, or an opportunity to present his view. (See id., at 7-22.)

         On April 24, 2017, Plaintiff, then proceeding pro se, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") against the County of San Diego and numerous employees of the San Diego County Sheriffs Office. (Doc. 1.) The Court partially granted two separate motions to dismiss and granted Plaintiff leave to amend his pleading. (Docs. 73, 79.) Plaintiff, who had since retained an attorney, filed an amended complaint on September 5, 2018 (Doc. 82), which asserted claims against Boorman for the first time, and which was met with another motion to dismiss (Doc. 83). On November 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") (Doc. 88) pursuant to a joint stipulation (Doc. 89). The SAC contains four causes of action: first, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause for Plaintiffs placement in Ad-Seg without due process; second, a violation of the Eighth Amendment for conditions of confinement that caused him physical injury; third, a violation of the Eighth Amendment for conditions of confinement that prevented him from exercising; and fourth, a violation of the Eighth Amendment for being forced to choose between sleep and exercise. (Id., at 15-19.)

         The County of San Diego, Sheriff William Gore, Lieutenant Lena Lovelace, and Lieutenant Eric Froistad collectively filed a motion to dismiss the SAC on November 30, 2018. (Doc. 93.) At the time, Boorman had not been served. On March 7, 2019, the undersigned issued a Report and Recommendation regarding that motion, and recommending Boorman's dismissal because he still had not been served. (Doc. 97.) On March 11, 2019, Plaintiffs counsel requested that Defense counsel accept service on Boorman's behalf; Defense counsel agreed, provided Boorman's argument in favor of the Court's recommendation to dismiss him as a defendant for lack of service be preserved.[2](Doc. 98-1, fn. 1; see Doc. 104, Ex. B.)

         Boorman has filed a 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss and argues Plaintiff failed to establish Boorman's individual liability as to any of the causes of action in the SAC. (Doc. 98-1.)

         Ill. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 932 (9th Cir. 2001). A claim may only be dismissed if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id. Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must plead "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). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, ("Iqbal”) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id., at 678, (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal quotations omitted).

         "[A] plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his' entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986) (alteration in original)). A court need not accept "legal conclusions" as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "In deciding such a motion, all material allegations of the complaint are accepted as true, as well as all reasonable inferences to be drawn from them." Navarro, 250 F.3d at 932 (citing Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 338 (9th Cir. 1996)). But, "to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim 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." Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The court may not assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts [he or she] has not alleged or that defendants have violated the ... laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal, Inc. v. Cat. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).

         In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court is limited to the complaint itself and its attached exhibits, documents incorporated by reference, and matters properly subject to judicial notice. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights. Ltd.,551 U.S. 308, 322-23 (2007); In ...


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