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Jones v. City of Oakland

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 26, 2019

ANDREA JONES, et al., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF OAKLAND, et al., Defendants.



         On February 13, 2019, Plaintiffs Andrea Jones, as an individual and as the Guardian ad Litem for her minor son, A.H., brought this action against Defendants City of Oakland, Oakland Police Department (“OPD”), and Oakland Police Officer Harold Castro, in his individual and official capacities. Dkt. No. 3. On February 21, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. Dkt. No. 8 (“FAC”). Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint, briefing for which is complete. Dkt. Nos. 21 (“Mot.”), 22 (“Opp.”), 26 (“Reply”). After carefully considering the parties' arguments, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case involves an undisputedly disturbing incident that occurred in 2017. Plaintiffs are African American and at all relevant times resided in Oakland, California next to Jesse Enjaian, an unnamed party. FAC ¶ 16. Mr. Enjaian is alleged to have been mentally unstable, possessed firearms at his residence, and was prone to violence against his neighbors. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiffs' claims arise out of Defendants' actions in response to a series of Mr. Enjaian's violent outbursts over the course of seven days. See Id. ¶¶ 18-46.

         First, on February 10, 2017, Mr. Enjaian “shot at and destroyed a parked vehicle in front of Plaintiff Jones' residence.” Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Enjaian targeted the vehicle because it belonged to an African American man. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. That evening, Plaintiff Jones spoke with Oakland Police Officers regarding the incident and provided them with Mr. Enjaian's name and phone number. Id. ¶ 24. The following morning, Plaintiff Jones saw Mr. Enjaian in his backyard and called OPD to inform them of Mr. Enjaian's location. Id. ¶ 26. Two officers responded to the call in full police uniforms and parked their police vehicles in front of Plaintiff Jones' driveway. Id. Mr. Enjaian purportedly “became enraged” upon witnessing Plaintiff Jones speak with the officers on her front porch and inside her front door. Id. The officers approached Mr. Enjaian, but he “refused to speak with the officers and instructed them to get off of his property.” Id.

         On February 13, 2017, Plaintiff Jones observed Mr. Enjaian standing outside her home, firing a rifle at oncoming traffic. Id. ¶ 28. The next day, Mr. Enjaian shot at a vehicle occupied by an African American man and later yelled racial slurs at the man. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. On February 15, 2017, Plaintiff Jones reported both shooting incidents to OPD and at that time met with Defendant Castro, the assigned primary investigator. Id. ¶¶ 33-34. Plaintiff Jones shared that she feared for her and her son's lives. Id. ¶ 36. Defendant Castro advised Plaintiff Jones to install security cameras on her property, that OPD was “going to get a warrant, ” and that OPD “had what they needed” to arrest Mr. Enjaian. Id. ¶¶ 36-37.

         The following day, Plaintiff Jones called Defendant Castro after seeing Mr. Enjaian in his backyard, in response to which Officer Castro stated that OPD was “taking care of it, ” and that Mr. Enjaian's arrest was a “priority.” Id. ¶¶ 39-40. Finally, on February 17, 2017, Mr. Enjaian “opened fire on Plaintiffs' residence and vehicle.” Id. ¶ 43. OPD ultimately shot and killed Mr. Enjaian. Id. ¶ 45.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 8(a) requires that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). “Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate only where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory.” Mendiondo v. Centinela Hosp. Med. Ctr., 521 F.3d 1097, 1104 (9th Cir. 2008). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff 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 is facially plausible when a 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 (2009).

         In reviewing the plausibility of a complaint, courts “accept factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). Nonetheless, courts do not “accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Secs. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001)). The Court also need not accept as true allegations that contradict matter properly subject to judicial notice or allegations contradicting the exhibits attached to the complaint. Sprewell, 266 F.3d at 988.

         If the court concludes that a 12(b)(6) motion should be granted, the “court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).


         Plaintiffs brings claims against Officer Castro under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) for purported violations of their rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. FAC ¶¶ 47-57. Plaintiffs further bring a Monell claim against the City of Oakland and OPD. Id. ¶¶ 58- 60; Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Defendants move to dismiss each cause of action.

         a. Due ...

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