United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST
CHARLES R. BREYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case arises from Plaintiff Rachel Quintana's arrest by
the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office in August 2015.
Mot. to Dismiss (“Mot.”) (Dkt. 39) at 1.
Plaintiff claims that she was singled out due to
Plaintiff's complaints to unnamed Sheriff's Deputies
on two occasions. Id. Plaintiff asserts four claims
for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1) Retaliatory and
false arrest; (2) Excessive use of force; (3) Retaliation in
prosecution; and (4) Retaliation. Id.; First Amended
Complaint (“FAC”) ¶¶ 101-145 (Dkt. 38).
Defendants seek to dismiss each claim. Mot. at 1. The Court
hereby GRANTS Defendants'
motion to dismiss Claims I, III, and IV with prejudice. The
Court hereby DENIES Defendants'
motion to dismiss Claim II.
alleges the following. Her older brother, “O”,
was once “stopped by San Mateo County Sheriff's
Deputies, arrested, and brought to the local
substation.” First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”) ¶ 21. The arrest was “without
reasonable suspicion and without probable cause, ” and
O was released without charges. Id. Plaintiff
“went to the substation and complained to the sheriffs
that there was no reason for them stopping O or taking O
in.” Id. Plaintiff's younger brother,
“Y”, and his friends had also been stopped by San
Mateo County Sheriff's Deputies “on multiple
occasions, ” and, on one occasion, deputies
“forced the two friends to be handcuffed and to sit
down on the public street for questioning, ”
subsequently releasing one friend and taking the other to the
substation. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff upon observing
this “warrantless and unwarranted seizure complained to
the deputies that there was no basis or reason for stopping,
detaining, or taking the young men in.” Id.
family home was “in early 2015 the subject of a
threatened citation” by Code Enforcement Officer Patty
Camacho. Id. ¶ 16. Camacho said that the County
“would cite and prosecute her for having older
vehicles” in the yard and “for having a fence
that was higher than 4 feet, ” even though other
properties in the area “were in essentially the same
condition.” Id. Plaintiff's complaints to
the deputies regarding the treatment of her brothers
“immediately pre-dated the 2015 threatened citation and
prosecution, ” and Plaintiff believes that the threats
were “at least in part” due to Plaintiff
exercising her constitutional rights” by commenting on
the actions taken by the sheriffs. Id. ¶¶
August 28, 2015, Defendants “interviewed Plaintiff
Rachel Quintana's longtime partner and alleged
complaining witness, Enrique Puluc.” Id.
¶ 25. Puluc's police complaint to Defendants
concerned “an event that had happened the prior
evening.” Id. ¶ 26. The FAC alleges that
Puluc was a “complaining witness” and was
interviewed in creating a Felony Report. Id. ¶
25. Plaintiff's FAC does not explain what, specifically,
Puluc's complaint alleged. See id. It states
Defendants knew when they took this report that Mr. Puluc
specifically said that Rachel Quintana would say that he, Mr.
Puluc hit her. Defendants knew when they took this report
that the event that Mr. Puluc spoke to them about was an
event that had happened the prior evening. Defendants knew
when they took this report that Mr. Puluc specifically said
that he did not want to prosecute any criminal charge against
Plaintiff Rachel Quintana.
Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff states that “from
what [Defendants] had been told by Mr. Puluc, there was no
reasonable or viable basis for finding any criminal violation
by [Plaintiff].” Id. ¶ 27. Additionally,
though the FAC does not so allege, Plaintiff's Opposition
to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss states that “the
complaining witness hit Plaintiff.” Opp. at 3.
receiving Puluc's complaint, Defendants went to
Plaintiff's home on August 28 at about 11:00 AM
“with the intent to arrest Plaintiff.” FAC
¶¶ 29, 30. Plaintiff alleges that a
“substantial motivating factor in the Defendants'
intent to arrest Plaintiff was in retaliation for the
exercise by Plaintiff of her constitutional rights and the
Defendants' association of Plaintiff with” her
brothers. Id. ¶31. She also alleges that
Defendant Otte “knew at the time that he arrived [at
Plaintiff's home] that he did not have probable cause to
arrest Plaintiff, that he had not applied for and would not
have been able to obtain a warrant to arrest
Plaintiff.” Id. ¶ 32.
answered the door wearing a shirt and sweatpants.
Id. ¶ 42. She alleges it was obvious to the
Defendants that “she was not armed and did not have
with her anything that could be used as a weapon.”
Id. Plaintiff “did not at any time threaten
the defendants, ” nor did she “flee or attempt to
flee.” Id. ¶¶ 43, 44. Plaintiff was
“standing at the front door, partially inside the door,
with her back turned to the officers, when she was suddenly
and unexpectedly forcefully grabbed by two officers by her
upper arms and back.” Id. ¶ 49. She
“was violently pulled back and out of the door of her
home” and was handcuffed. Id. ¶¶ 50,
52. Plaintiff then “fell to the ground, ending up
sitting cross legged.” Id. ¶ 53. The
officers “then acted in concert to forcefully push
Plaintiff over, ” where Defendant Kostielney
“pulled her from the other direction” while
Defendant Velasquez “pushed Plaintiff.”
Id. ¶ 55. The force of this “unexpected
push and pull of Plaintiff caused her feet to be jammed
against the cement porch floor and her legs and knees,
particularly and especially her left knee, were unnaturally
twisted, causing a sprain and stretching of ligaments and
cartilage in her left knee.” Id. ¶ 57.
February 2, 2016, Plaintiff was charged with violations of
California Penal Code § 273.5 (willful infliction of
corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant), § 243(e)(1)
(battery committed against a spouse), § 243(b) (battery
against a peace officer), and § 148(a)(1) (resisting,
delaying, or obstructing a peace officer). Id.
¶ 65. A supplemental report after the arrest by
Defendant Kostielney stated that “no cellular
telephones possessed any video footage of the
incident.” Id. ¶ 72. Plaintiff requested
all video and audio recordings, but none were provided to
Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 71. Plaintiff subsequently
filed a Trombetta motion based on the “failure
to preserve, destruction of, or withholding of a
video-recording made by Sergeant Otte via a cellular
telephone, as documented in a recording captured by
Plaintiff's brother.” Id. ¶ 73. On
January 5, 2017, a San Mateo Superior Court Judge granted
Plaintiff's motion to dismiss the alleged charge of
battery on a peace officer, finding that “[Otte]
misrepresented under oath that he recorded a video.”
Id. ¶¶ 82, 84. On April 20, 2018,
prosecutors then dismissed “the remaining charges
against Plaintiff” on the basis of the
prosecution's “motion to dismiss for insufficient
evidence.” Id. ¶ 91.
subsequently brought the present action. Plaintiff asserts
four claims: (1) retaliatory and false arrest (FAC
¶¶ 101-111); (2) excessive force (FAC ¶¶
112-121); (3) retaliation in prosecution (FAC ¶¶
122-137); and (4) retaliation (FAC ¶¶ 138-145).
While retaliatory arrest and false arrest are two distinct
claims, Plaintiff combines both into Claim I.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must ask
whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
All factual inferences must be drawn in favor of the
non-moving party. Western Reserve Oil & Gas Co.,
765 F.2d at 1430. But courts “are not bound to accept
as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
contends in Claims I, III, and IV both that her arrest and
prosecution were unlawful and that the Defendants acted in
retaliation for commenting on the actions taken by unnamed
sheriffs. See generally FAC. She further contends in
Claim II that the Defendants used excessive force in
effectuating her arrest. Id. at ¶¶ 112-21.
While Claims I, III, and IV fail as a matter of law,
Plaintiff's excessive force claim, Claim II, is
sufficiently pled and survives Defendants' motion to
Claim I: ...