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Robert v. City of Santa Rosa

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 12, 2019

ROBERT Y, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SANTA ROSA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT COUNTY OF SONOMA AND GREG SCHMIDT'S MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO. 39

          KANDIS A. WESTMORE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On July 24, 2019, Defendants Greg Schmidt and the County of Sonoma filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's third amended complaint.

         On September 5, 2019, the Court held a hearing, and, after careful consideration of the parties' arguments and the applicable legal authority, for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 1, 2018, Plaintiff Robert Casey was detained and arrested in Santa Rosa, California. (Third Am. Compl., “TAC, ” Dkt No. 37 ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges that he was searching for his runaway dog with the help of a stranger along a trail when Defendant officers from the Santa Rosa Police Department and Defendant Sonoma County Probation Officer Greg Schmidt responded. (TAC ¶ 16.) Defendant Schmidt held Plaintiff at gun point, despite the fact that the officers did not have a reasonable belief that Casey was in the process of, had committed, or intended to commit a crime. (TAC ¶ 17.) Plaintiff was put into a chokehold by Schmidt after complying with officers to get on the ground and put his hands up. (TAC ¶ 19.) Schmidt choked Plaintiff until he was unconscious. Id. As a result, Plaintiff sustained severe bruising, a concussion and lacerations, as well as emotional distress. (TAC ¶ 24.) Schmidt's described his sworn statement that the use of the chokehold as a technique was consistent with his training and appropriate to administer in these circumstances. (TAC ¶ 30.) As a result of this incident, Plaintiff was charged with resisting arrest. (TAC ¶ 3.)

         On December 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit. On June 20, 2019, the Court granted in part and denied in part the County Defendants' motion to dismiss the second amended complaint and granted leave to amend the Monell claim. (6/20/19 Order, Dkt. No. 34.) On July 10, 2019 Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint alleging a state law claim of false imprisonment and a malicious prosecution claim, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Schmidt, as well as a Monell claim alleging municipal liability, pursuant to § 1983, against the County of Sonoma.

         On July 24, 2019, Defendants Schmidt and the County of Sonoma filed a motion to dismiss. (Defs.' Mot., Dkt. No. 39.) On August 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed an opposition. (Pl.'s Opp'n, Dkt. No. 43.) On August 14, 2019, Defendants filed a reply. (Defs.' Reply, Dkt. No. 44.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may file a motion to dismiss based on the failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001).

         In considering such a motion, a court must “accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, ” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (citation omitted), and may dismiss the case or a claim “only where there is no cognizable legal theory” or there is an absence of “sufficient factual matter to state a facially plausible claim to relief.” Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009); Navarro, 250 F.3d at 732) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         A claim is plausible on its face when a plaintiff “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). In other words, the facts alleged must demonstrate “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

         “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action” and “conclusory statements” are inadequate. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Epstein v. Wash. Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 1996) (“[C]onclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.”). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully . . . When a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal citations omitted).

         Under Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(5), a party may file a motion to dismiss based on the failure to properly effect service of the summons and the complaint pursuant to Rule 4.

         Generally, if the court grants a motion to dismiss, it should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend is made “unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” Lo ...


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