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Weiss v. City of Santa Rosa Police Department

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 5, 2016

Terry L. Weiss, Plaintiff,
City of Santa Rosa Police Department, et al., Defendants.


          Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers United States District Court Judge

         Plaintiff Terry L. Weiss brings this case against defendants City of Santa Rosa Police Department, several individuals in their individual and official capacities, and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Sonoma (the “County Defendants”)[1] for alleged civil rights violations under federal and state laws related to plaintiff’s arrest and booking at the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility. (Dkt. No. 26, “Compl.”)

         Now before the Court is the County Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1985. (Dkt. No. 39, “Mtn.”)[2] Additionally, County Defendants move to dismiss the state law claims for failure to state a claim and as time-barred by the statute of limitations. (Id.) Plaintiff filed a response (Dkt. No. 54, “Opp’n”) and County Defendants filed a reply (Dkt. No. 55, “Reply”).[3]

         Having carefully considered the pleadings and papers submitted, the Court Dismisses plaintiff’s Section 1983 and Section 1985 claims with leave to amend, and Dismisses With Prejudice plaintiff’s state law claims.[4]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 24, 2013, she went to the Santa Rosa Police Department (“SRPD”) to obtain a report and speak to officers regarding an earlier incident involving certain officers. (Compl. ¶ 35.) After some time waiting in the lobby of the SRPD, plaintiff alleges that officers arrested her, jumped her, handcuffed her, slammed her against the walls, and yelled at her to stop resisting the arrest. (Id. at ¶ 39.) Plaintiff alleges that she was next taken to the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility (“MADF”) at approximately 12:00 or 1:00 a.m. in the morning. (Id. at ¶ 42.)

         According to plaintiff, upon arrival at MADF, a medical technician took her vital signs and noted that her blood pressure was very high. (Id. at ¶ 41.) Plaintiff then purportedly informed the deputies that her blood pressure was high and that she had not taken her medication that day, and further claims that she was “refused treatment, a blanket, or even acknowledgment to the health issues at hand.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that she fainted and was awoken by a “Trustee, ” who was calling on the deputies to inform them that plaintiff was unconscious. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that staff at the facility falsely accused plaintiff of suffering drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms and accused plaintiff of being suicidal. (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims that she was not booked or informed of the charges against her until approximately 4:00 to 4:30 a.m. that morning. (Id. at ¶ 42.) She further alleges that she requested that staff photograph her injuries, but that the jail staff refused, explaining that they observed no unusual injuries. (Id.) Plaintiff additionally claims that her bail was posted at 5:45 a.m., but that she was kept in custody until roughly 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. due to allegedly deliberate delays in processing her paperwork. (Id.)


         A. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Dismissal for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is proper if there is a “lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988)). The complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim [for] relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). If the facts alleged do not support a reasonable inference of liability, stronger than a mere possibility, the claim must be dismissed. Id. at 678-79; see also In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (stating that a court is not required to accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences”).

         “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ’ in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 554-55 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)) (alteration in original). Even under the liberal pleading standard of Rule 8(a)(2), “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986) (internal brackets and quotation marks omitted)). The Court will not assume facts not alleged, nor will it draw unwarranted inferences. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”).

         B. Section 1983 Claims

         Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any person, including municipalities, counties, and subdivisions thereof, for the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Local government entities, however, cannot be held liable under Section 1983 “unless action pursuant to official municipal policy of some nature caused a constitutional tort.” Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. In other words, local government entities may only be sued under Section 1983 when “execution of a government’s policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose ...

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