United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS SECOND AMENDED
COMPLAINT RE: DKT. NO. 31
C. SPERO Chief Magistrate Judge
Noe-Marie Claraty, pro se, brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and the Federal Tort Claims Act
(“FTCA”) based on her temporary loss of custody
of two minor children. Claraty names as Defendants Contra
Costa County (the “County”) and Linda Hall-Mills,
a social worker employed by the County. The Court previously
granted Defendants' motion to dismiss Claraty's first
amended complaint based on the statute of limitations, and
Claraty filed a second amended complaint asserting equitable
tolling. Defendants move once again to dismiss. The Court
held a hearing on May 31, 2019. For the reasons discussed
below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED, and Claraty's
complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice. The Clerk shall enter
judgment in favor of Defendants.
asserts a claim under § 1983 and a claim under the FTCA
based on her temporary loss of custody of her young children,
allegedly as a result of a purportedly false report prepared
by Hall-Mills and other alleged efforts by Hall-Mills to
deprive Claraty of custody. Claraty alleges that police
officers removed her three-week-old child NBG from her care
in June of 2015 based on Hall-Mills's report, and that
Claraty and the father of her second child, CMG, stipulated
to the father assuming custody based on Hall-Mills's
threat that CMG would be placed in foster care if they did
not do so. 2d Am. Compl. (“SAC, ” dkt. 3) at 3-4.
Claraty regained shared custody of CMG on March 7, 2016 and
of NBG on September 1, 2016. Id. at 4. Claraty was
diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”) in May of 2018, and filed this action on
November 13, 2018. Id. at 4-5.
response to Defendants' motion to dismiss her previous
complaint, which alleged similar facts but asserted a claim
only under § 1983, Claraty argued that her diagnosis
with PTSD was the relevant point from which to measure the
two-year statute of limitations for her claim. The Court held
that the statute of limitations instead began at the time
that Claraty lost custody, which was itself a cognizable
injury, not when she became aware of further manifestations
of harm, such as PTSD, arising from that original injury.
Order Dismissing 1st Am. Compl. (dkt. 29) at 4-6 (citing,
e.g., Knox v. Davis, 260 F.3d 1009, 1013
(9th Cir. 2001) (“[T]his court has repeatedly held that
a ‘mere continuing impact from past violations
is not actionable.'” (citation omitted));
Belinda K. v. County of Alameda, No.
10-CV-05797-LHK, 2011 WL 2690356, at *6 (N.D. Cal. July 8,
2011) (“[C]ivil rights claims based on child removal
accrue . . . when the child is removed from the
parent.”)). Because “Claraty's claim under
§ 1983 accrued when she lost custody of her children in
2015, more than two years before she brought this action,
” the Court dismissed her complaint with leave to amend
if Claraty could allege facts sufficient to toll the statute
of limitations. Id. at 6.
second amended complaint adds her claim under the FTCA and
reasserts her argument that the statute of limitations, at
least for the newly-added FTCA claim, should run from the
date of her PTSD diagnosis. See SAC at 7-15. Claraty
also asserts that the statute of limitations for her claim
under § 1983 should be extended based on the doctrine of
equitable tolling, because the requirements set by the family
court for her to regain custody, among other
responsibilities, were overwhelming, and she could not have
filed a complaint before May of 2017. Id. at 16-21.
now move to dismiss the second amended complaint, arguing
that Claraty cannot state a claim under the FTCA-which
provides for claims against the United States- against a
local government or its employee, and that Claraty is not
entitled to equitable tolling or any other relief from the
statute of limitations for her claim under § 1983.
See generally Mot. (dkt. 31).
complaint may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim on
which relief can be granted. “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 plaintiff'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
analyzes the complaint and 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 complaint “‘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) (quoting 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) (alteration in
original). Rather, the claim must be “‘plausible
on its face, '” meaning that the plaintiff 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).
the complaint has been filed by a pro se plaintiff, as is the
case here, courts must “construe the pleadings
liberally . . . to afford the petitioner the benefit of any
doubt.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342
(9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). “A district court
should not dismiss a pro se complaint without leave to amend
unless ‘it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of
the complaint could not be cured by amendment.'”
Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 2012)
(quoting Schucker v. Rockwood, 846 F.2d 1202,
1203-04 (9th Cir. 1988) (per curiam)). Further, when it
dismisses the complaint of a pro se litigant with leave to
amend, “‘the district court must provide the
litigant with notice of the deficiencies in his complaint in
order to ensure that the litigant uses the opportunity to
amend effectively.'” Id. (quoting
Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir.
1992)). “‘Without the benefit of a statement of
deficiencies, the pro se litigant will likely repeat previous
errors.'” Karim-Panahi v. L.A. Police
Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 624 (9th Cir. 1988) (quoting
Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir.
Claraty Cannot State a Claim Under the FTCA ...