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D.C. v. County of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 19, 2019

D.C., J.C., and T.C., by and through their guardian, MELANIE CABELKA; and MELANIE CABELKA, individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; SARAH WILSON; CARLOS OMEDA; FATIMAH ABDULLAH; MARILYN SPROAT, and DOES 1-100, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. William Q. Hayes, United States District Court

         The matters before the Court are 1) the Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint filed by Defendants Sarah Wilson, Carlos Olmeda,[1] Fatimah Abdullah, and Marilyn Sproat (ECF No. 75); 2) the Motion to Strike a Non-Party Minor’s Confidential Information and Seal the Complaints filed by all Defendants (ECF No. 76); 3) the Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint filed by Defendant County of San Diego (ECF No. 77); 4) the Motion to Appoint a Neutral Guardian Ad Litem filed by Defendants (ECF No. 74); and 5) the Ex Parte Motion to Appoint Melanie Cabelka as Guardian Ad Litem filed by Plaintiffs (ECF No. 81).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         On February 28, 2019, Plaintiffs Melanie Cabelka and her minor children, D.C., T.C., and J.C., filed a Second Amended Complaint against Defendants County of San Diego (the “County”), Sarah Wilson, Carlos Olmeda, Fatima Abdullah, Marilyn Sproat, and Does 1 through 100 (the “SAC”). (ECF No. 67). The SAC is the operative complaint in this matter.[2] Plaintiffs allege 1) first claim against Wilson, Olmeda, Abdullah, and Sproat (collectively, the “Social Services Defendants”) for “Violation of Federal Civil Rights Pursuant to United States Code, Title 42, § 1983” (id. at 28); 2) second claim against the County for “Monell Related Claims 42 U.S.C. § 1983” (id. at 34) and negligence (id. at 38); and 3) state law claims against all Defendants for direct negligence (id. at 38), negligent and/or intentional misrepresentation (id. at 41), and intentional infliction of emotional distress (id. at 43). Plaintiffs seek general damages, special damages, punitive damages, interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs. Id. at 44.

         On May 29, 2019, Motions to Dismiss the SAC were filed by the Social Services Defendants (ECF No. 75) and the County (ECF No. 77). On May 29, 2019, Defendants collectively filed a Motion to Strike and Seal the Complaints (ECF No. 76) and a Motion to Appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (ECF No. 74). On June 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an Ex Parte Motion to Appoint a Guardian Ad Litem. (ECF No. 81). On the same day, Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiffs’ Ex Parte Motion. (ECF No. 82).

         On June 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed Responses to Defendants’ Motion to Appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (ECF No. 86) and Motion to Strike (ECF No. 87). On July 1, 2019, Defendants filed Replies in support of their Motion to Appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (ECF No. 88) and Motion to Strike. (ECF No. 89). On July 23, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Response to the Social Services Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 92), a Response to the County’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 93), and Requests for Judicial Notice in support of both Responses (ECF Nos. 92-1, 93-1).[3]

         On August 16, 2019, both the Social Services Defendants (ECF No. 96) and the County (ECF No. 97) filed Replies in support of their respective Motions to Dismiss. Defendants also collectively filed a Response to Plaintiffs’ Requests for Judicial Notice. (ECF No. 98). On August 21, 2019, Defendants filed a Request for Judicial Notice in support of their Motions to Dismiss (ECF No. 99).[4]

         B. Factual Allegations in the SAC

         Plaintiff Melanie Cabelka adopted her children, T.C., D.C., and J.C., prior to March 2015 after their successful foster or adoptive placements in Cabelka’s home. (ECF No. 67 ¶¶ 23, 27). T.C. was born in 2003 (id. ¶ 4), D.C. was born in 2004 (id. ¶ 5), and J.C. was born in 2009 (id. ¶ 6).

         Plaintiffs allege that prior to March 2015, D.G., who is not a party to this action, was a dependent of the Court “in the foster system.” Id. ¶¶ 30, 118. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants were “responsible for the evaluation, placement, supervision, and well-being” of D.G. Id. at ¶ 118. D.G. allegedly had a history of “fecal smearing, expressed suicidal thoughts, violent physical outbursts culminating in the destruction of property, and sexually aggressive and deviant behaviors.” Id. ¶ 45. Plaintiffs allege D.G. had “been exposed to sexual abuse” (id. ¶ 36) and “had been removed from his immediately prior adoptive placement . . . because he had been sexually molesting another male child . . . .” Id. at 36. Plaintiffs allege Defendants had access to information about D.G.’s history of medical, behavioral, and psychological problems, including “CWS/CMS records” (id. ¶¶ 37, 45, 50, 63) and “reports from both prior foster parents and D.G.’s school” (id. ¶ 35).

         Cabelka accepted D.G. into her home as a foster child in March 2015. Id. ¶ 29. Plaintiffs allege that before Cabelka accepted D.G. into her home, she asked Sproat, a County placement worker, how many prior placements D.G. had been in and why the prior placements failed. Id. ¶ 33. Sproat allegedly told Cabelka that “there was no issue with [D.G.], it was not [his] fault . . . ” (id.) and that D.G. had “great behaviors.” (id. ¶ 30). Plaintiffs allege Cabelka asked D.G.’s social worker’s supervisor, Abdullah:

. . . if she knew anything about the history of [D.G], and if there was anything [Cabelka] should know about [him] before she committed to [his] placement in her home. Specifically, [Cabelka] asked Abdullah if she had any information regarding why D.G.’s prior adoptive placement failed. Abdullah refrained from telling [Cabelka] the truth and instead stated that the prior adoptive placements had not ‘failed.’ Abdullah reiterated - falsely, what a great kid D.G. was, and how he had no problems other than those medical problems already disclosed by Sproat, i.e., spina bifida, which was well in hand.

Id. ¶ 38. Plaintiffs allege that all of the Defendants knew or should have known D.G.’s history and “actively conceal[ed] D.G.’s past aberrant behaviors,” placing Cabelka and her children at risk. Id. ¶¶ 120-122. Defendants allegedly “actively suppressed this information from [Cabelka] and refrained from disclosing it out of concern that if they had disclosed all of the relevant ...


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