United States District Court, N.D. California
JOHN F. DUNHAM, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF MONTEREY, et al., Defendants.
ORDER RE DEFENDANT CALIFORNIA FORENSIC MEDICAL GROUP,
INC.'S MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT RE: DKT.
ELIZABETH D. LAPORTE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
civil rights action, Defendant California Forensic Medical
Group, Inc. (“CFMG”) moves to dismiss the First
Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against it for failure
to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Having heard oral argument on August 13, 2019, and
having considered the papers filed in support of and in
opposition to the motion, the Court hereby GRANTS the Motion
claims that at the time of his arrest on August 20, 2016, he
was suffering from alcohol withdrawal or at high risk for
withdrawal. FAC ¶¶ 10-11. He had been fighting
alcohol addiction and habitually consumed approximately 2
liters of liquor per day. Id. at ¶ 11.
Plaintiff alleges that despite this severe alcohol problem,
the deputies who performed the intake interviews and
screening of Plaintiff concluded that Plaintiff showed no
signs of drug or alcohol use. Id. at ¶¶
night of August 23, 2016, while in pre-trial detention at
Monterey County Jail, Plaintiff claims he displayed clear
signs of untreated severe alcohol withdrawal, including
hallucinations, severe anxiety, disorientation to time and
place and incoherent mumbling. FAC ¶ 19. Due to the
discomfort and dehydration caused by alcohol withdrawal,
Plaintiff told deputies repeatedly to get him a bedroll and a
cup for water. Id. When Defendants encountered
Plaintiff, he was in a hallucinogenic state. Id. at
¶ 22. Defendants claim Plaintiff began acting and
speaking irrationally and threatened to harm himself.
Def.'s Mot. Strike 2, Dkt. No. 47. The responding
Monterey County Sheriff's Deputies determined Plaintiff
posed a danger to himself and should be psychologically
evaluated. Id. The deputies attempted to move
Plaintiff from his cell to a safety cell or the jail
infirmary. Id. Defendants claim Plaintiff refused to
cooperate, and when the deputies entered into Plaintiff's
cell, Plaintiff violently resisted them for an extended
period of time. Id. Defendants claim Plaintiff
kicked, hit, and attempted to bite the deputies. Id.
at 3. Plaintiff claims that the responding Monterey County
Sheriff's Deputies violently and repeatedly beat and
tased him. Compl. 6.
the August 23, 2016 incident, Plaintiff was admitted to
Natividad Medical Center Emergency Department. FAC ¶ 28.
In addition to his head injuries and multiple chipped teeth,
Plaintiff was diagnosed with paranoid psychosis and severe
alcohol withdrawal delirium. Id. at ¶ 31. On
August 24, 2016, Plaintiff was discharged from the emergency
department, but Plaintiff remained admitted at Natividad
Medical Center for acute alcohol withdrawal. Id. at
¶ 34. Plaintiff was treated in the ICU and then later
discharged on August 27, 2016. Id. Plaintiff was
subsequently released from custody on August 29, 2016. Compl.
24, 2018, Plaintiff filed the original Complaint pro
se against defendants Shannon Anadon, Justin Holloway,
Joshua D. Gardepie, Ala H. Najem, Zachariah Swift, and D.E.
Vargas (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging two
separate causes of action for excessive force pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983. Compl., Dkt. No. 1. The Complaint alleged
that on or around August 23, 2016, he was assaulted in his
cell at the Monterey County Jail by the named defendant
deputies and “brutally beaten and tased numerous
times.” Id. at 6. The Complaint stated that
Plaintiff was simply requesting a bedroll and was not a
danger to himself or anyone else during this incident.
January 28, 2019, Plaintiff obtained counsel. Dkt. No. 27. On
May 29, 2019, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”) to add, inter alia, CFMG as a
defendant in a new § 1983 claim of deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs pursuant to Monell
v. Department of Social Services of the City of New
York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). FAC ¶¶ 54-59.
3, 2019, CFMG filed the present Motion to Dismiss the First
Amended Complaint, arguing that Plaintiff's FAC is barred
by the statute of limitations and does not relate to the
original Complaint, and thus, Plaintiff's FAC fails to
state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Dkt. No. 51. On July 17, 2019, Plaintiff filed his
opposition, arguing that the requirements under Rule
15(c)(1)(C) for relation back have been satisfied and that
the statute of limitations should be tolled pursuant to
California Code of Civil Procedure § 352.1 and the
doctrine of equitable tolling. Dkt. No. 55. On July 24, 2019,
CFMG filed its reply and argued again that the FAC is barred
by the statute of limitations and does not relate back to the
original Complaint. Dkt. No. 57.
August 13, 2019, the Court heard oral argument and ordered
the parties to submit further briefing regarding the issue of
tolling. Dkt. No. 61. On August 20, 2019, CFMG filed a
supplemental brief, arguing that California Code of Civil
Procedure § 352.1 provides no express tolling of the
statute of limitations for Plaintiff and that the claim
against CFMG should not be tolled by equity because,
inter alia, CFMG did not receive timely notice of
Plaintiff's claim. Dkt. No. 62. On August 27, 2019,
Plaintiff filed his reply to the supplemental briefing,
conceding that § 352.1 does not apply but arguing that
equitable tolling should apply because, inter alia,
notice should be imputed to CFMG as an agent of Monterey
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be
dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. To survive a
motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient
factual allegations, which when accepted as true,
“‘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)). “[T]he court must construe
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
taking all her allegations as true and drawing all reasonable
inferences from the complaint in her favor.” Doe v.
United States, 419 F.3d 1058, 1062 (9th Cir. 2005).
Conclusory allegations or “formulaic recitation of the
elements” of a claim, however, are not entitled to the
presumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681.