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Sabatini v. California Board of Registered Nursing

United States District Court, S.D. California

December 12, 2019

WILLIAM SABATINI, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA BOARD OF REGISTERED NURSING, Defendant.

          ORDER: (1) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT, (DOC. NO. 43); (2) DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, (DOC. NO. 57); (3) DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S EX PARTE MOTION FOR AN ORDER SHORTENING TIME, (DOC. NO. 59); (4) SUA SPONTE STRIKING ALL DOE DEFENDANTS

          ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court are: (1) Defendant California Board of Registered Nursing's (“Defendant”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff William Sabatini's (“Plaintiff”) Third Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 43); (2) Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, (Doc. No. 57); and (3) Plaintiff's ex parte motion for an order shortening time, (Doc. No. 59). The Court heard oral argument on Defendant's motion to dismiss on November 14, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND and all Doe defendants are STRICKEN from the action. Additionally, Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and ex parte motion for an order shortening time are DENIED AS MOOT.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The present action relates to state administrative disciplinary proceedings by Defendant California Board of Registered Nursing against Plaintiff. On four separate occasions between January 2013 to May 2015, Plaintiff abused controlled substances while working as a registered nurse. (Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) ¶¶ 1, 23.) Defendant learned of Plaintiff's actions and began a formal investigation into Plaintiff's use of controlled substances. (Id. ¶ 24.) Following that investigation, Defendant filed formal accusations against Plaintiff, seeking to revoke Plaintiff's Nursing License and related Nurse Anesthetist Certificate. (Id.) Hearings were held by Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Samuel D. Reyes on the matter from February 27, 2017 through March 1, 2017. (Id. ¶ 25.) On April 28, 2017, ALJ Reyes issued a Proposed Decision and ordered that Plaintiff's License and Certificate be revoked. (Id. ¶ 29.) Then, ALJ Reyes stayed the revocations and placed Plaintiff on probation for five years. (Id.) On September 20, 2017, Defendant issued a Final Decision and Order. (Id. ¶ 32.) Defendant then ordered Plaintiff to undergo a five-year probation of his Nursing License and Certificate. (Id.) On November 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed for a Writ of Mandate in San Diego Superior Court against Defendant, and the San Diego Superior Court found against Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 52.)

         Plaintiff's probationary terms included submitting to drug tests and samples, appearing in-person at interviews, obtaining prior approval before commencing or continuing any employment as a nurse, and prohibiting Plaintiff from consuming alcohol. (Doc. No. 47 at 9.)

         Plaintiff then filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in this Court. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's actions exceeded the probationary terms and worsened since the Final Decision and Order. (Doc. No. 47 at 9.)

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Petition for Writ of Mandamus on August 30, 2018. (Doc. No. 1.) On March 7, 2019, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Writ of Mandamus and granted Plaintiff leave to amend, including leave to change his writ into a complaint. (Doc. No. 17.) Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on April 2, 2019. (Doc. No. 28.) Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint on April 19, 2019. (Doc. No. 31.) With leave of the Court, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on May 10, 2019, and then a Third Amended Complaint on July 19, 2019. (Doc. Nos. 38, 43.) Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) states only two causes of action against Defendant for: (1) discrimination under the ADA, and (2) retaliation under the ADA. (Doc. No. 43.) All other causes of actions are against Doe Defendants not yet named in the litigation. Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's TAC based on the two foregoing causes of action. (Doc. No. 45.) Plaintiff opposed the motion, and Defendant responded. (Doc. Nos. 47-48.) The Court held a hearing on Defendant's motion to dismiss on November 14, 2019. Then on December 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for preliminary injunction. (Doc. No. 57.) On December 10, 2019, Plaintiff filed an ex parte motion for an order to shorten time. (Doc. No. 59.) This order follows.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests a complaint's legal sufficiency. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Court must accept the complaint's allegations as true and construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party but is not required to accept “legal conclusions” as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009); Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). To avoid a dismissal at this stage, a complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (stating a party's pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”).

         Notwithstanding this deference, the reviewing court need not accept legal conclusions as true. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. It is also improper for the court to assume “the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged . . . .” Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). On the other hand, “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The court only reviews the contents of the complaint, accepting all factual allegations as true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Requests for Judicial Notice

         In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may generally consider only allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters properly subject to judicial notice. Swartz v. KMPG, LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 763 (9th Cir. 2007). Federal Rule of Evidence 201(b) permits judicial notice of a fact when it is “not subject to reasonable dispute because it: (1) is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or (2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Welk v. Beam Suntory Imp. Co., 124 F.Supp.3d 1039, 1041-42 (S.D. Cal. 2015).

         1. Defendant's Request for Judicial Notice

         Defendant requests judicial notice of several documents filed in San Diego County Superior Court, in addition to a decision issued by Defendant. (Doc. No. 45-1.) Defendant's request is unopposed. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's request for judicial notice.

         First, Defendant requests judicial notice of Exhibit 1, which is a California Board of Registered Nursing's Decision. The Court notes judicial notice may be properly taken of orders and decisions made by other administrative agencies. See Papai v. Harbor Tug & Barge Co., 67 F.3d 203, 207, n.5 (9th Cir. 1995), rev'd on other grounds, 520 U.S. 548 (1997) (“Judicial notice is properly taken of orders and decisions made by other courts and administrative agencies.”); Oliva v. Cty. of Santa Clara, No. 5:13-CV-02927-EJD, 2014 WL 3615741, at *8 (N.D. Cal. July 22, 2014) (taking judicial notice of online records from the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Board of Registered Nursing). Accordingly, the Court holds that Exhibit 1 is a proper subject for judicial notice.

         Second, Defendant asks the Court to take judicial notice of Exhibits 2-6, which are court documents from San Diego Superior Court proceedings. Exhibit 2 is a Verified Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandamus which is a public record subject to judicial notice. See Simonelli v. City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, No. C 13-1250 LB, 2013 WL 3815146, at *1 (N.D. Cal. July 22, 2013) (taking judicial notice of a Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandamus).

         Exhibits 3-5 are briefs filed in San Diego Superior Court. A court has authority to take judicial notice that certain proceedings occurred, but a court may not take “judicial notice of disputed facts stated in public records.” Perdue v. Rodney Corp., No. 13CV2712-GPC BGS, 2014 WL 3726700, at *4 (S.D. Cal. July 25, 2014). However, a federal court may “[take] judicial notice of a state court decision and the briefs filed in that court to determine if an issue was raised and decided by the state court for res judicata purposes.” Manufactured Home Cmtys. Inc. v. City of San Jose, 420 F.3d 1022, 1037 (9th Cir. 2005); see also Holder v. Holder, 305 F.3d 854, 866 (9th Cir. 2002) (taking judicial notice of a California Court of Appeal opinion “and the briefs filed in that proceeding and in the ...


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