United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER RE MOTIONS TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NOS. 49,
DONATO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff John Doe, who is suing under a pseudonym, has
alleged a number of civil rights violations related to an
involuntary detention in a psychiatric hospital under the
Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code,
§ 5000 et seq. (the âLPS Actâ). Dkt. No. 1.
This order resolves defendantsâ motions to dismiss under
Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Dkt. Nos. 49, 56. The Court
found the motions suitable for decision on the papers
pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). Dkt. No. 62. The
complaint is dismissed.
Act governs California’s involuntary commitment
procedures. A designated facility may detain a person for up
to 72 hours for “treatment and evaluation” if
there is “probable cause” to believe that the
person, “as a result of mental disorder, is a danger to
others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled.”
Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 5150. The detention may be
extended for up to fourteen days for “intensive
treatment” upon a subsequent evaluation and
certification. Id. § 5250. A patient can
challenge an involuntary commitment in a certification review
hearing, and then in court on a writ of habeas corpus.
Id. §§ 5256, 5275; see generally
People v. Triplett, 144 Cal.App.3d 283, 286 (Ct. App.
complaint, Doe acknowledges that he was involuntarily
hospitalized in December 2015 under the LPS Act in response
to reports that he suffered from schizophrenia and had
threatened “suicide by cop.” Dkt. No 1
¶¶ 2-8. Doe says the reports were anonymous
“hearsay” and did not amount to “probable
cause” or other grounds for commitment. Id.
Doe asked for and got a certification hearing, and the
hearing officer found probable cause. Id. ¶ 5.
Doe then asked for judicial review in a habeas proceeding and
was provided with the forms needed to start that process.
Id. ¶ 6. Doe gave a completed form to a
hospital employee, who logged it in his medical chart and
advised the Sonoma County Patient Advocate’s Office of
Doe’s habeas request. Id. Doe says the writ
form was never filed in California superior court, which
denied him his right to judicial review. Id. ¶
7. Doe was discharged from the hospital after approximately
eight days of commitment.
alleged a number of state and federal claims arising from
these events against the County of Sonoma, and its employees
and Department of Health Services, the State of California,
and the California Department of Justice and Attorney
General. The federal claims are brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and essentially allege that the involuntary
commitment deprived Doe of his Fourth Amendment right to be
free of an unreasonable seizure and his Fifth Amendment right
to due process. He seeks damages, injunctive relief, and a
declaration that the LPS Act is unconstitutional. Doe also
mentions a limitation on his ability to possess firearms, but
has not alleged a specific claim for relief on that
Doe filed this case, he brought another lawsuit over the same
incident against Danielle Santos, who Doe says was in charge
of the medical facility where he was evaluated. Doe v.
Santos, No. 3:17-cv-06945, Dkt. No. 1 (“Santos
Complaint”). Doe alleges three claims against Santos
for negligence, false imprisonment, and an unspecified
constitutional violation under Section 1983, and a claim
against Sonoma County for failing to properly train Santos.
Id. ¶ 8. In effect, Doe has simply added
another defendant to this case, and another claim against the
county. In light of Doe’s pro se status, the Court will
treat the Santos complaint as an amendment of the complaint
here. The Santos case will be closed administratively for
that reason. Doe and the other parties are directed not to
file any pleadings or other documents in the Santos case.
satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) and Rule
12(b)(6), a claim must provide “a short and plain
statement . . . showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief,” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), including “enough
facts to state a claim . . . that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible on its face if,
accepting all factual allegations as true and construing them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a court can
reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). The Court will not treat as fact or accept as
true allegations that are bare legal conclusions, recitations
of elements or unwarranted deductions. Id. The
plausibility analysis is “context-specific” and
not only invites but “requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Id. at 679. Review is limited to the contents of the
complaint. Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d
752, 754 (9th Cir. 1994). The Court liberally construes
Doe’s pleadings as a pro se plaintiff. Hebbe v.
Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).
THE CALIFORNIA STATE DEFENDANTS
California state defendants, including the Attorney General,
who is sued in his official capacity, the Eleventh Amendment
bars Doe’s claims for monetary damages under Section
1983. Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 65-66, 71 (1989). In addition, these defendants are
not “persons” within the meaning of Section 1983,
except when sued for prospective injunctive relief. Doe
v. Lawrence Livermore Nat’l Lab., 131 F.3d 836,
839 (9th Cir. 1997). This small window does not save the
claims against the state entities because Doe sued over an
eight-day event that began and ended in 2015, and has not
plausibly alleged facts indicating that prospective
injunctive relief may be appropriate. The complaint also does
not allege any facts showing that the Attorney General or any
other state actor was meaningfully connected to the claims
and events alleged in the complaint. See
Ass’n des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du
Quebec v. Harris, 729 F.3d 937, 943 (9th Cir. 2013).
Consequently, the California state defendants are dismissed
with prejudice as no amendment would surmount these barriers.
THE SONOMA COUNTY DEFENDANTS
claims against the Sonoma County defendants are also
dismissed. These local government defendants, which again
include individuals sued in their official capacities, may be
liable under Section 1983 only “when execution of a
government’s policy or custom . . . inflicts the
injury.” Los Angeles Cty., Cal. v. Humphries,562 U.S. 29, 452 (2010) (quoting Monell v. Dep’t of
Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)).
See also Doe v. Sempervirens Mental Health Facility,
No. 14-CV-00816-JD, 2015 WL 4238242, at *3 (N.D. Cal. July
13, 2015), aff’d, 697 Fed.Appx. 515 (9th Cir.
2017). The key concept here is the presentation of facts
sufficient to plausibly allege the existence of ...