JOSE MURGUIA V. HEATHER LANGDON, ET AL, No. 21-16709 (9th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff called 911 seeking emergency mental health assistance for the mother of his children, with whom he lived and had five children. This call set in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to the death of Plaintiff’s ten-month-old twin sons at their mother’s own hand.
Plaintiff brought a Section 1983 involving the application of the “state-created danger” doctrine in the context of a welfare check; the Ninth Circuit reversed in part and vacated in part the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ action for failure to state a claim, and remanded. The panel first made clear that the only two exceptions to the general rule against failure-to-act liability for Section 1983 claims presently recognized by this court were the special-relationship exception and the state-created danger exception. The panel, therefore, rejected Plaintiffs’ assertion that the failure to comply with a legally required duty can give rise to a substantive due process claim. The panel further held that the district court correctly held that the special-relationship exception did not apply here.
The panel next held that Plaintiffs’ state-created danger claim against deputies failed because Plaintiffs failed to allege facts from which one could plausibly conclude that Defendants created or enhanced any danger to the twins. The panel held that Plaintiffs adequately stated their Section 1983 claims against the City of Tulare Police Sergeant under the state-created danger exception. Finally, because the panel reversed the dismissal of some of Plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claims against the social worker and Sergeant, the panel reversed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ Monell claims against the County and City of Tulare.