United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER REGARDING MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO.
C. SPERO CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Bobbie Allen Woods, pro se, brought this action against
Defendants the City of Hayward, the Hayward Police
Department, Hayward Police Officer B. Tong, and Hayward
Police Sergeant Polar asserting claims based on a police search
of Woods's home. Defendants move to dismiss. The Court
found the motion suitable for resolution without oral
argument and vacated the noticed hearing date. For the
reasons discussed below, the motion is DENIED as to
Woods's claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) against the City of Hayward and the
Hayward Police Department, GRANTED with prejudice as to
Woods's ADA claims against Tong and Polar, and GRANTED
with leave to amend as to all other claims. If Woods wishes
to pursue the claims dismissed with leave to amend, he may
file an amended complaint no later than December 6,
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
is a seventy-year-old African American man with muscular
dystrophy and a disability as a result of his service in the
United States Air Force during the Vietnam War era. Compl.
(dkt. 1) ¶¶ 9, 47. Woods has used wheelchair since
his retirement from the United States Postal Service in 2009.
Id. Woods rents two rooms of his home in Hayward to
Nashi Mixon-Alexander and her five- and fourteen-year-old
sons, all of whom are also African American. Id.
¶¶ 10-11. Mixon-Alexander serves as Woods's
caregiver through a home aide program. Id. ¶
12. The complaint suggests that her fourteen-year-old son has
had some degree of history with the juvenile justice system,
although Woods and Mixon-Alexander “were not complicit
with his activities in any manner.” See Id.
¶ 26 (alleging that Woods and Mixon-Alexander
“were actively involved with Ms. Mixon-Alexander's
14-year-old child's Probation Officers, the Hayward
Police Department, the Juvenile District Attorney Office and
Hayward Unified School District officials to monitor his
March 15, 2018, Woods awoke to a voice over a loudspeaker
advising that Woods's home was surrounded and that all
residents must leave the house with their hands raised.
Id. ¶ 13. After the command was repeated
several times, Woods heard the sound of an explosion.
Id. “[E]xtremely frightened, ” Woods
attempted to leave his bed, but struggled due to his
disability and injured his neck and elbow in the process.
Id. ¶¶ 14-15.
Woods, Mixon-Alexander, and her older son approached the door
of the house, police officers addressed each of the four
residents of the home by name and ordered them to exit the
house with their hands over their heads, despite neighbors
shouting to the police officers that the youngest son was
only five years old. Id. ¶ 16. Mixon-Alexander
and her older son exited first, while Woods and his neighbors
yelled to police that he could not raise his hands because he
was disabled. Id. ¶ 17. After the police shined
a light on Woods, they allowed him to wheel himself out of
the house without raising his hands, but aimed rifles at his
head as he did so. Id. Mixon- Alexander's
younger son remained sleeping in his bed, and Woods,
Mixon-Alexander, and neighbors pleaded with police to allow
them to go get him in order to avoid any risk that he would
be shot by police searching the home, but the police did not
allow them to do so. Id. ¶ 18.
Woods requested a jacket or blanket, and to be allowed to
wait in his home, the police did not let him return to his
home, but after about half an hour, the police provided him
with “a yellow body tarp bag” to use as a
blanket. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. The body bag, as
well as the sound of the explosion that preceded the search,
triggered the post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”) that Woods had developed as a result of
his experience in the Vietnam War. Id. ¶¶
was allowed back into the house to get her younger son and
change her clothes around 6:07 AM, approximately twenty-five
minutes after the first loudspeaker announcements, and Woods
was allowed to return to the front room of the house nearly
forty minutes after that, around 6:44 AM. Id. ¶
24. The police officers left the house around 6:58 AM.
Id. Police officers denied Woods's repeated
requests to speak with the supervising officers until the
search was finished and the officers were preparing to leave,
at which point Defendants Tong and Polar identified
themselves as having supervised the operation. Id.
search was conducted pursuant to a warrant that was issued
eight days earlier, on March 7, 2019. Id. ¶ 27.
Woods contends that there was sufficient time between the
issuance of the warrant and its execution for Defendants to
have determined that the occupants of the house were not a
threat and did not require the show of force used in the
search. Id. Woods also characterizes the police
officers as “disrespectful for not considering [his]
disability, [his] age, and the age of the children, as well
as searching female renter Ms. Mixon-Alexander by male
officers while female officers were available on the
scene.” Id. ¶ 25. Woods describes the use
of force in the search as “excessive, ” and
states his “belie[f] that if [he] were a white veteran
with the same profile the warrant would not have been
conducted” in the same manner. Id.
complaint includes the following claims: (1) unreasonable
seizure of Woods's person in violation of the Fourth
Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) unreasonable search
in violation of the Fourth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. §
1983; (3) racial discrimination in violation of the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983; (4) failure to provide a reasonable
accommodation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities
Act; (5) negligence; (6) intentional infliction of emotional
distress; and (7) invasion of privacy.
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim on
which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. “The purpose of a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal
sufficiency of the complaint.” N. Star Int'l v.
Ariz. Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir.
1983). Generally, a claimant's burden at the pleading
stage is relatively light. Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure states that a “pleading which sets
forth a claim for relief . . . shall contain . . . a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).
ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
takes “all allegations of material fact as true and
construe[s] them in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party.” Parks Sch. of Bus. v.
Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). Dismissal
may be based on a lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the
absence of facts that would support a valid theory.
Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d
696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A pleading must “contain
either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the
material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some
viable legal theory.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 562 (2007) (citing Car
Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106
(7th Cir. 1984)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels
and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “[C]ourts
‘are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation.'”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). “Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked
assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Rather, the
claim must be “‘plausible on its face,
'” meaning that the claimant must plead sufficient
factual allegations to “allow the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
pleadings are generally liberally construed and held to a
less stringent standard. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Even post-Iqbal, courts must
still liberally construe pro se filings. Hebbe v.
Pliler, 627 F.3d 338 (9th Cir. 2010). As the Ninth
Circuit explained in Hebbe, “while the
standard is higher, our obligation remains, where the
petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to
construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner
the benefit of any doubt.” Id. at 342.
Nevertheless, the Court may not “supply essential
elements of the claim that were not initially pled.”
Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Alaska, 673
F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
Court dismisses a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), it should
“grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the
pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading
could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other
facts.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127
(9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). In general, courts “should freely
give leave when justice so requires.” Id.