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Jackson v. City of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 23, 2019

ERNEST JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, and DOES 1-25, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO'S MOTION TO DISMISS [DKT. NO. 7.]

          HON. GONZALO P. CURIEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant County of San Diego's (“Defendant” or “County”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff Ernest Jackson's (“Plaintiff”) claims against it pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 7.) Plaintiff filed an opposition. (Dkt. No. 10.) The County filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 11.) Based on the briefs, applicable law, and supporting documentation, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the County's motion to dismiss.

         Background

         On April 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint claiming federal and state civil rights violations as well as state law claims against the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, and Does 1-25. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.) Does 1-2 are police officers, officials, and other agents of the City of San Diego employed by the San Diego Police Department who were acting in their professional capacity within the scope of their employment. (Id. ¶ 12.) Does 3-25 are sheriff's deputies, officials, and other agents of the County of San Diego employed by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department who were acting in their professional capacity within the scope of their employment. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         According to the complaint, on Saturday, July 28, 2018, while Plaintiff was dozing off in his parked truck in front of his former residence located at Newton Avenue, two San Diego police officers, Does 1 and 2, arrested Plaintiff for public intoxication without asking Plaintiff any questions about whether he lived at the residence, why he was parked on the street, or whether he had been drinking. (Id. ¶¶ 21-30.) Plaintiff asserts he had not been drinking and did not display any signs of intoxication. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 31.) The officers did not ask to see Plaintiff's California driver's license, which listed the Newton Avenue location as his address of residence, and they did not conduct a sobriety test. (Id. ¶¶ 26-32.) The two officers booked Plaintiff in the San Diego Central Jail where Plaintiff spent five days, from Saturday, July 28, 2018 to Wednesday, August 1, 2018. (Id. ¶¶ 36, 42.) The officers also seized Plaintiff's truck, which contained his personal possessions, and the truck was ultimately sold at an auction after Plaintiff could not afford to retrieve it. (Id. ¶ 37.) Once booked, Plaintiff was informed he would appear before a judge at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 30; however, when the time came, Plaintiff was never taken to appear before a judge, and sheriff deputies did not give Plaintiff an explanation as to why he was denied a hearing. (Id. ¶¶ 38-40.) The following day, Tuesday, July 31, Plaintiff inquired about appearing before a judge, and a deputy responded that they would “let him know.” (Id. ¶ 41.) He was not taken to a judge and spent another day in jail. (Id.) On Wednesday, August 1, Plaintiff's fifth day in jail, deputies handed Plaintiff a sheet of paper, which ordered Plaintiff to appear in court on September 13, 2018 and on that day, Plaintiff was released from jail. (Id. ¶¶ 42, 45.) On September 13, 2018, Plaintiff appeared in court as ordered but no criminal charges had been filed. (Id. ¶ 46.) Plaintiff believed he was a defendant awaiting criminal charges when he appeared in court on September 13, 2018. (Id. ¶ 105.) As a result of his unlawful seizure, wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, and violation of due process rights, he suffered emotional trauma, anxiety, and pain and suffering. (Id. ¶ 47.)

         On March 7, 2019, Plaintiff presented a Government Claim Form with the County pursuant to the California Government Code. (Id. ¶ 7.) On the Government Claim Form, Plaintiff wrote that the claim arose from events that occurred between July 28, 2018 to September 13, 2018. (Dkt. No. 7-2, D's RJN[1], Ex. A at 4[2].) On March 14, 2019, the County issued a Notice of Returned Portion of Claim for Dates July 28, 2018 through August 1, 2018. (Id., Ex. B at 7.) The Notice stated that a portion of his claim, July 28, 2018 through August 1, 2018, was not timely because it was not filed within six months after the event or occurrence but acknowledged the September 13, 2018 portion of the claim was timely. (Id.) On April 23, 2019, the County issued a Notice of Rejection of Claim which references July 28, 2018 as the date of the incident.[3] (Id.)

         On April 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court alleging seven causes of action: (1) unlawful seizure pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Does 1-2; (2) arrest without probable cause pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Does 1-2; (3) violation of procedural due process pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants County of San Diego and Does 3-25; (4) negligence against all Defendants; (5) false imprisonment against Defendants City of San Diego and Does 1-2; (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants; and (7) violation of California Civil Code section 52.1 (“Bane Act”) against all Defendants. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.)

         On May 22, 2019, the City of San Diego filed an answer to the complaint. (Dkt. No. 6.) On the same day, the County filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. No. 7.) Plaintiff filed a timely opposition to the motion on June 14, 2019. (Dkt. No. 10.) The County filed a timely reply on June 28, 2019. (Dkt. No. 11.)

         The County argues that all claims against it, i.e., third, fourth, sixth, and seventh causes of action, pled in Plaintiff's complaint, should be dismissed.[4] Specifically, the County contends the third cause of action, due process violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to identify an official policy or established custom that is alleged to have caused his constitutional injury to hold the County liable for a § 1983 claim. With respect to the fourth, sixth, and seventh causes of action, Plaintiff's remaining state law claims, the County argues Plaintiff failed to timely comply with the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act (“CTCA”). The crux of the County's argument is that Plaintiff's injury accrued on August 1, 2018, the date Plaintiff was released from County jail after a five-day detention, and Plaintiff, having filed his Government Claim Form on March 7, 2019, failed to present a government tort claim to Defendant within six months of the claim's accrual as required under California law.

         Plaintiff, in his opposition, acknowledges that third cause of action for violation of his federal due process rights was alleged against the County in error. Because Plaintiff's opposition clarifies that the § 1983 claim was alleged against the County in error, the Court GRANTS the County's motion and DISMISSES Plaintiff's third cause of action as unopposed.

         Plaintiff further argues that the County's motion to dismiss the state law claims should be denied because Plaintiff timely presented his Government Claim Form against the County on March 7, 2019. To support this contention, Plaintiff makes the following arguments: (1) Plaintiff's state law causes of action accrued on September 13, 2018, not August 1, 2018, due to the delayed discovery doctrine, (Dkt. No. 10 at 5-6); (2) the County's wrongful acts began in July 2018 and continued until September 13, 2018, (Dkt. No. 10 at 6-8); and (3) the County is equitably estopped from arguing untimeliness, (Dkt. No. 10 at 8-11).

         In its reply to Plaintiff's opposition, the County argues that because Plaintiff's sole federal-question claim was alleged against the County in error, there are no remaining claims over which there exists original subject matter jurisdiction, and the Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. In the alternative, the County argues that the state law claims must nevertheless be dismissed for the following reasons: (1) Plaintiff is precluded from invoking the delayed discovery doctrine because he had contemporaneous knowledge of his alleged injury when it occurred on August 1, 2018; (2) Plaintiff's complaint does not include specific facts demonstrating Plaintiff conducted a reasonable investigation of all potential causes of action for his injury once he was released from custody on August 1, 2018; and (3) Plaintiff's continuing violations and equitable estoppel arguments fail because the Superior Court, and not County employees, ordered Plaintiff to appear in court on September 13, 2018.

         Discussion

         A. Legal Standard for Federal Rule of Civil ...


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