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Masterson v. County of Alameda

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 11, 2019

TIFFANY MASTERSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART COUNTY DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND RE: DKT. NO. 62

          PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants County of Alameda (“the County”), Gregory J. Ahern, Carol Burton, Bobbie Cook, Kim Curtis, Hayley Holland, Nicholas Lagorio, and Joshua Pape's (together, the “County Defendants”) motion to dismiss came on for hearing before this court on November 20, 2019. Plaintiffs appeared through their counsel, Jamie Goldstein. Defendants appeared through their counsel, Denise Billups-Slone and Amy Rothman. Having read the papers filed by the parties and carefully considered their arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good cause appearing, the court hereby rules as follows, for the following reasons and for the reasons stated at the hearing.

         BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit is brought by the survivors of Logan Masterson (the “decedent”), who committed suicide while an inmate at the Santa Rita Jail. The court has previously recounted the factual allegations in some detail in an order granting an earlier motion to dismiss. See Dkt. 59.

         The decedent was arrested for “various charges” and brought to Santa Rita Jail on April 4, 2018. He was initially placed in a safety cell on suicide watch, but suicide watch was discontinued, and he was moved to an isolation cell. He remained in the isolation cell until his self-inflicted hanging death on April 6, 2018.

         Plaintiffs Tiffany Masterson (in her personal capacity, and as executor of decedent's estate), and her minor children, Bentley, Bella, Hailey, and Chloe Masterson (through their respective guardians ad litem), assert eight claims against the County of Alameda; Sheriff Gregory Ahern; Deputy Nicholas Lagorio; Sergeant Joshua Pape; Carol Burton, Interim Director of the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency (“BHCS”); Social Worker Kim Curtis; Therapist Hayley Holland; Therapist Bobbie Cook (Curtis, Holland, and Cook are the “BHCS Providers”); and the California Forensic Medical Group (“CFMG”) and three of its nurses, Savitha Quadros, Jane Mwangi, and Melynda Logan (the three nurses are the “CFMG Providers”).[1]

         The operative causes of action asserted in the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) are: (1) 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Failure to Provide Medical Care in Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (alleged against all defendants); (2) 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Failure to Protect from Harm in Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (alleged against all defendants); (3) 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Deprivation of Substantive Due Process in Violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments (alleged against all defendants); (4) medical malpractice under California law (alleged against County, Burton, BHCS Providers, CFMG, CFMG Providers, and Doe defendants); (5) failure to furnish medical care under California law (alleged against County, Ahern, Burton, Curtis, Cook, Holland, Lagorio and Pape); (6) negligent supervision under California law (alleged against County, Ahern, CFMG, and Doe defendants); (7) wrongful death under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 377.60 (alleged against all defendants); and (8) negligence under California law (alleged against all defendants). See generally FAC, Dkt. 60.

         On August 30, 2019, the County Defendants moved to dismiss all claims to the extent they are asserted against them, other than claims 4 and 7.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests for the legal sufficiency of the claims alleged in the complaint. Ileto v. Glock, 349 F.3d 1191, 1199-1200 (9th Cir. 2003). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which requires that a complaint include a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), a complaint may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) if the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory, or has not alleged sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Somers v. Apple, Inc., 729 F.3d 953, 959 (9th Cir. 2013).

         While the court is to accept as true all the factual allegations in the complaint, legally conclusory statements, not supported by actual factual allegations, need not be accepted. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). The complaint must proffer sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 558-59 (2007).

         “A claim has facial plausibility when the 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. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Where dismissal is warranted, it is generally without prejudice, unless it is clear the complaint cannot be saved by any amendment. Sparling v. Daou, 411 F.3d 1006, 1013 (9th Cir. 2005).

         B. ...


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