United States District Court, N.D. California
JACOB S. SILVERMAN, Plaintiff,
DENNIS GAGNON, et al., Defendants.
ORDER LIFTING STAY AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO DISMISS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND; GRANTING LEAVE TO FILE
FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT DOCKET NOS. 16, 19, 20
LABSON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a California inmate, filed the instant pro se civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
officers of the Humboldt County Sheriff Department
(“HCSD”). On May 10, 2019, the Court found the
complaint, liberally construed, stated a cognizable claim
under the Fourth amendment for an unlawful traffic stop and
ordered the matter served on Defendants Deputy Dennis Gagnon
and Sgt. Jesse Taylor at HCSD. (Docket No. 7.) Defendants
filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as time-barred and
for failure to state a claim. (Docket No. 16, hereinafter
“Mot.”) On July 23, 2019, the Court granted
Plaintiff leave to file an amendment to attempt to state
sufficient facts to state a Fourth Amendment excessive force
claim, and Defendants' motion was stayed. (Docket No.
he received the court order, Plaintiff filed a motion for
leave to file a first amended complaint to overcome the
pleading deficiencies alleged by Defendants. (Docket No. 19.)
A few days later, Plaintiff filed a motion “to pause or
vacate” the July 23, 2019 court order “to instead
permit and grant Plaintiff to process an amended
complaint.” (Docket No. 20.) Defendants have filed no
opposition to either of Plaintiff's motions.
reasons discussed below, the Court hereby lifts the stay on
Defendants' motion to dismiss and GRANTS it with leave to
Motion to Dismiss
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is grounds
for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). Dismissal for failure to
state a claim is a ruling on a question of law. See Parks
School of Business, Inc., v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480,
1483 (9th Cir. 1995). “The issue is not whether
plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether he is entitled
to offer evidence to support his claim.” Usher v.
City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987).
a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a
plaintiff's 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.... Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 553-56 (2007) (citations
omitted). A motion to dismiss should be granted if the
complaint does not proffer “enough facts to state a
claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 570. To state a claim that is plausible on
its face, a plaintiff must allege facts that “allow
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). From these decisions,
the following “two principles” arise:
“First 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. Second, the factual allegations that are taken
as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such
that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be
subjected to the expense of discovery and continued
litigation.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202,
1216 (9th Cir. 2011).
move for dismissal on the grounds that the lawsuit is
time-barred and for failure to plead sufficient facts to
support a claim for relief for an unlawful traffic stop.
(Mot. at 4-5.) Rather than file an opposition, Plaintiff
filed a motion for leave to amend. (Docket Nos. 19.) The
Court construes Plaintiff's response as a concession that
the factual allegations in the complaint are insufficient to
state a claim, and that he desires an opportunity to cure the
deficiencies in an amended complaint.
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) is to be applied liberally in
favor of amendments and, in general, leave shall be freely
given when justice so requires. See Janicki Logging Co.
v. Mateer, 42 F.3d 561, 566 (9th Cir. 1994); cf.
id. (attempt to amend complaint requiring amendment of
scheduling order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16 must be based upon
good cause). “In the absence of any apparent or
declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory
motive on the part of the movant, . . . undue prejudice to
the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment,
futility of amendment, etc.- the leave sought should, as the
rules require, be ‘freely given.'” Hall
v. City of Los Angeles, 697 F.3d 1059, 1073 (9th Cir.
2012) (internal citations and quotes omitted).
Court finds good cause for granting Plaintiff an opportunity
to file a first amended complaint because his motion for
leave to amend offers sufficient facts which, if alleged in
an amended complaint, could be sufficient to overcome the
deficiencies alleged in Defendants' motion to dismiss.
For example, Defendants assert that the complaint does not
allege facts stating that Defendant Gagnon lacked probable
cause. (Docket No. 16 at 6.) In his response, Plaintiff
alleges that during the preliminary hearing when asked the
question, “Were you sirening [sic] to stop and
issue a ticket for this vehicle or to go investigate if there
was a violation requiring a ticket or citation?”,
Defendant Gagnon's response was: “I hadn't -
when I initially pulled the vehicle over, I hadn't made
up that determination.” (Docket No. 19 at 2.) Liberally
construed, this allegation indicates that Defendant Gagnon
had no reasonable suspicion to justify the initial traffic
stop. Furthermore, Defendants have filed no opposition to
Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. Accordingly, the
Court finds good cause to grant Plaintiff an opportunity to
file an amended complaint to correct the deficiencies in the
respect to timeliness, Defendants argue that the matter is
time-barred because Plaintiff filed the action after the
two-year period for personal injury claims had expired.
(Docket No. 16 at 4-5.) However, the Court notes that
Plaintiff could have become aware of the factual basis of
this claim no earlier than the preliminary hearing when
Defendant Gagnon's testimony was elicited, which may
alter the date when this claim accrued such that it is not
time-barred. Because this argument has not been fully
briefed, the Court will not grant the motion to dismiss on
the grounds of timeliness.
conclusion, Plaintiff has already been granted an opportunity
to file an amendment to state a Fourth Amendment excessive
force claim. (Docket No. 18.) Permitting him to file an
amended complaint to set forth all the claims in a single
pleading would be efficient and would simplify briefing in
this matter. Furthermore, Defendants do not oppose
Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. Accordingly,
Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED but with leave
to amend. (Docket No. 16.) Plaintiff's motion for leave
to file a ...