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G.M. v. Poole

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 11, 2019

G.M., individually and as co-successor-in-interest to Decedent CHRISTOPHER MURPHY, by and through his Guardian-Ad-Litem KRISTINA COMPHER; C.M., individually and as co-successor-in-interest to Decedent CHRISTOPHER MURPHY, by and through his Guardian-Ad-Litem KRISTINA COMPHER; and A.M., individually and as co-successor-in-interest to Decedent CHRISTOPHER MURPHY, by and through her Guardian-Ad-Litem KRISTINA COMPHER, individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
ADAM POOLE, individually; MICHAEL SIMPSON, individually; and DOES 1-25, inclusive, individually, jointly and severally, Defendants.

          GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          TROY L. NUNLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant Adam Pool and Michael Simpson's (“Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiffs G.M, C.M., and A.M. (“Plaintiffs”) oppose Defendants' motion. (ECF No. 12.) The Court has carefully considered the arguments raised by both parties. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint is hereby GRANTED with leave to amend.

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiffs allege the following facts: Plaintiffs are three children of Decedent Christopher Murphy (“Murphy”) bringing suit against Defendant arising out of Murphy's death on December 8, 2016. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 1-2.) Murphy was involved in a fiery car accident on Interstate 5 North, in Sacramento, California. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 15.) Murphy managed to escape the wreckage of the accident. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 16.) California Highway Patrol Officers, two of whom are Defendants, arrived at the scene of the accident and found Murphy wandering on the freeway. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 16.) Plaintiffs allege Murphy was physically injured, disoriented, and wandering along the side of the roadway. (See ECF No. 1 ¶ 16.) Rather than provide medical care, Plaintiffs claim the officers, including Defendants, placed Murphy in a choke hold, handcuffed, hog-tied, and tased Murphy multiple times. (See ECF No. 1 ¶ 17.) They further allege that Defendants used unknown and excessive force on Murphy in a manner that interfered with his ability to breathe. (See ECF No. 1 ¶ 17.) Plaintiffs allege Murphy died as a result of Defendants' force. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 18.)

         Plaintiffs are three out of Murphy's five surviving children. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 3, 6, 7, 8.) They bring two federal and three state causes of action against Defendants as co-successors-in-interest to Murphy. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs argue Defendants' conduct violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, California Civil Code § 52.1, state wrongful death law, and state assault and battery statutes. (ECF No. 1.) In reference to the state causes of action related to federal claims, Plaintiffs allege they timely filed a Government Tort Claim with the State of California in compliance with California's administrative claim requirements. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 13.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Join a Party

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(7) provides a defense to a claim for relief based on failure to join a party under Rule 19. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(7); Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Cmty. v. City of Los Angeles, 637 F.3d 993, 1002 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Rule 19 imposes a three-step inquiry: “(1) Is the absent party necessary (i.e., required to be joined if feasible) under Rule 19(a)? (2) If so, is it feasible to order that the absent party be joined? (3) If joinder is not feasible, can the case proceed without the absent party, or is the absent party indispensable such that the action must be dismissed?” Salt River Project Agric. Improvement & Power Dist. v. Lee, 672 F.3d 1176, 1179 (9th Cir. 2012).

         Under the first step, a party may be “necessary” if:

(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord relief among the existing parties; or (B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may: (i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest; or (ii) leave an existing party subject to substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or inconsistent obligations because of the interest.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(1); Salt River, 672 F.3d at 1179. If joinder of a necessary party is not feasible, a plaintiff must nevertheless allege the name of the necessary party and the reasons for not joining that person. Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(c).

         The third step of the Rule 19 inquiry is one of “equity and good conscience” that requires a “practical examination of the circumstances” and consideration of at least four interests: (1) the plaintiff's interest in having a forum; (2) the defendant's interest in not proceeding without the required party; (3) the interest of the non-moving party by examining the extent to which the judgment may, as a practical matter, impair or impede its ability to protect its interest in the matter; and (4) the interests of the courts and the public in complete, consistent, and efficient settlement of controversies. Paiute-Shoshone, 637 F.3d at 997-1000.

         B. Motion to Dismiss for ...


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