Pierce v. County of Marin et al, No. 3:2017cv03409 - Document 70 (N.D. Cal. 2018)

Court Description: ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; DIRECTING PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL TO SERVE DEFENDANT PENDER WITH FAC (U.S. MARSHALS NO LONGER REQUIRED TO EFFECT SERVICE) 48 (Illston, Susan) (Filed on 2/14/2018)
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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 JILLIAN L. PIERCE, Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 COUNTY OF MARIN, et al., Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 17-cv-03409-SI 12 ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT; DIRECTING PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL TO SERVE DEFENDANT PENDER WITH FAC (U.S. MARSHALS NO LONGER REQUIRED TO EFFECT SERVICE) Re: Dkt. No. 48 13 14 On February 2, 2018, the Court held a hearing on the Marin County defendants’ motion to 15 16 dismiss the first amended complaint. 17 For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES defendants’ motion. 18 BACKGROUND 19 20 I. Factual Background 21 This lawsuit arises from plaintiff Jillian L. Pierce’s repeated arrests and detentions based 22 on a warrant issued for another individual named Arin Emily Huggard. First Amended Complaint 23 (“FAC”), Dkt. No. 41 at ¶ 26. Huggard is “[w]hite, 5’ 6” tall, and has distinctive tattoos . . . .” Id. 24 ¶ 25. The FAC alleges that plaintiff “does not appear to be white and, in fact, she is of mixed 25 ethnicity, including Filipino, and her skin complexion is dark,” and that “Huggard’s distinctive 26 tattoos are unique to her.” Id. 27 According to the FAC, on or around July 15, 2013, Huggard was arrested in the County of 28 Marin and was booked into the Marin County Jail (“MCJ”). Id. ¶ 19. Huggard was fingerprinted 1 and photographed (from the front and both sides), and identifying information about her, including 2 any distinctive characteristics, was documented. Id. At least by the time of the 2013 booking, 3 Huggard was assigned a unique CII number.1 Id. The same day, Huggard was charged in a 4 complaint filed in Marin County Superior Court Case No. SC185382A with felony and 5 misdemeanor drug possession charges, as well as one count of a misdemeanor violation of 6 California Penal Code section 148.9(a) (representing a false identity to a California peace officer). 7 Id. The next day, Huggard was arraigned in the Marin County Superior Court, and she entered a 8 plea of not guilty. Id. ¶ 21. The FAC alleges that between July 16 and 22, 2013, Huggard’s case was continued four 10 times, and “inferably, Huggard was transported by COUNTY OF MARIN Sheriff’s Deputies each 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 time back and forth from the Marin County Jail, to court, and then back to MCJ.” Id. On July 23, 12 2013, Huggard pled guilty to one count of felony drug possession, after which a Marin County 13 Sheriff’s Office (“MCSO”) Deputy took Huggard’s thumbprint and placed a copy in the court file 14 for Case No. SC185382A. Id. ¶ 22. Following the guilty plea, Huggard was placed on probation 15 and released from custody. Id. ¶ 23. In February 2014, proceedings were held at the Marin 16 County Superior Court in Case No. SC185382A as a result of Huggard’s violation of probation. 17 Id. ¶ 24. Huggard did not appear in court, and the judge issued a bench warrant for her arrest. Id. 18 Plaintiff alleges that on May 21, 2014, she was arrested in San Francisco, California, “and 19 at some time thereafter was believed to be Huggard, the subject named in the above-referenced 20 bench warrant out of the COUNTY OF MARIN, in Case NO. SC185382A.” Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff 21 spent two days in the San Francisco County jail, and then on May 23, 2014, she was delivered to 22 the County authorities on the warrant in Case No. SC185382A. Id. ¶ 27. At the MCJ, plaintiff 23 went through a booking process, which included being fingerprinted, having her booking photo 24 taken, and being subjected to a visual body cavity search. Id. ¶ 29. The booking photographs 25 1 26 27 28 The FAC alleges that the CII number is a unique identifying number that the California Department of Justice (“CDOJ”) assigns to every person booked into a California jail. Id. ¶ 48. The CII number is tied to the booked person’s fingerprint, which is unique to the person. Id. A jailer can obtain an arrestee’s CII number, associated identifiers and the arrestee’s criminal history by sending the arrestee’s fingerprint image to the CDOJ, if the fingerprint is already on file. Id. 2 1 clearly depicted all of plaintiff’s distinctive features, including her tattoos “which are different 2 from those of Huggard,” and her dark complexion. Id. After plaintiff was in custody at the MCJ 3 for several hours, the MCSO deputies discovered that neither plaintiff’s fingerprints nor her CII 4 number matched those of the subject of the warrant, Huggard. Id. ¶ 30. After learning that 5 Huggard must have used plaintiff’s name previously, and that Huggard was in-custody in a 6 different county, the MCSO released plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. 7 The FAC alleges that in June 2014, another bench warrant was issued in Case No. 8 SC185382A, and the warrant was served. Id. ¶ 32. In August 2015, a probation violation hearing 9 was held in Case No. SC185382A, and Huggard failed to appear. Id. ¶¶ 33-34. Thereafter, 10 another bench warrant naming Huggard was issued. Id. ¶ 34. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 In February 2016, California Highway Patrol (“CHP”) officer Matthew Pender pulled over 12 plaintiff and arrested her pursuant to the warrant for Huggard. Id. ¶ 35. The FAC alleges that the 13 name in the warrant as well as other identifying information of the subject of the warrant, 14 including distinctive physical features, distinctive tattoos, height, CII number and fingerprint, were 15 those of Huggard and not of plaintiff. Id. Despite plaintiff’s protestation of mistaken identity, 16 plaintiff was booked into Santa Rita Jail, where she was subjected to a strip search and visual body 17 cavity search. Id. The FAC alleges that the “warrant abstract” listed a telephone number for the 18 County of Marin’s Sheriff’s Office, “which is inferably a Warrants and Wants division,” but that 19 Pender did not contact the Sheriff’s Office or the County of Marin Probation department. Id. 20 Plaintiff spent about 2 days at Santa Rita Jail, and then she was issued a citation, signed a promise 21 to appear, and given a March 4, 2016 court date to appear in the County. Id. ¶¶ 35-36. 22 Plaintiff then contacted the County of Marin’s Public Defender’s Office, and was 23 represented by Ms. Bryna Holland. Id. ¶ 36. On March 4, 2016, People v. Huggard (Case No. 24 SC185382A) was called in Marin County Superior Court and “the warrant was apparently stayed 25 by the Court until March 9, 2016 based on correspondence that had been submitted.” Id. ¶ 37. 26 The matter was continued to March 25, 2016. Id. On March 25, Deputy Public Defender Holland 27 appeared on behalf of plaintiff and informed the court that plaintiff had previously been falsely 28 arrested as a result of the warrant for Huggard. Id. ¶ 38. The judge noted that when Huggard pled 3 1 guilty in July 2013, the MCSO fingerprinted her and that her fingerprint was in the court file, and 2 the deputy district attorney stated that there were “identifying tattoos of the actual person who 3 committed this crime and who suffered the conviction and that is different from Miss Holland’s 4 client.” Id. The court issued another warrant for Huggard. Id. On or about March 29, 2016, a County of Marin employee, working in the Marin County 6 Sheriff’s Office Warrant Division was working on the warrant in Case No. SC 185382A, and 7 mailed a notice of the warrant to an address in Antioch, California. Id. ¶ 39. The FAC alleges that 8 despite having readily available information to indicate that plaintiff was not Huggard, and having 9 constructive knowledge that plaintiff had already been wrongfully booked into the MCJ on a 10 warrant in Huggard’s case, this employee failed to take any corrective action, such as correcting 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 5 the date of birth, or adding information unique to Huggard relating to her physical description. 12 Id.2 13 In April 2016, the bench warrant in Case No. SC185382A was recalled and re-issued by 14 Judge Boren, who “ordered that Arin Huggard’s date of birth be placed on the warrant.” Id. ¶ 40. 15 The new warrant “was issued for Arin Huggard, the defendant in Case No. SC185382A, with bail 16 being set at $25,000.00.” Id. Later, the MCSO Warrant Division “peculiarly and inexplicably 17 sent correspondence to the home of a friend of Plaintiff, in Antioch, California, which was a 18 ‘COURTESY NOTICE OF WARRANT’ concerning a warrant for the arrest of Arin Huggard.” 19 Id. ¶ 41. The warrant did not name plaintiff, but her date of birth appeared on the warrant. Id. 20 Plaintiff immediately notified Ms. Holland, who in turn took steps to notify the County employees 21 and agents in order to correct the continued erroneous association of plaintiff’s birthday and 22 physical description with Huggard’s. Id. 23 On May 10, 2016, Ukiah Police Department (“UPD”) officers were called to the scene of a 24 domestic disturbance, where plaintiff was the victim of domestic violence. Id. ¶ 42. Plaintiff, who 25 was about five months pregnant, was “extremely distraught and crying,” and told the UPD officers 26 that her boyfriend “had struck her.” Id. The UPD officers learned of the warrant under Case No. 27 2 28 The FAC does not explicitly allege that the previous warrants for Huggard incorrectly listed plaintiff’s birthdate, but that is the implicit suggestion. 4 1 SC185382A in Huggard’s name. Id. Plaintiff protested that she was not the subject named in the 2 warrant and explained that it was a mistake as a result of identity fraud. Id. The UPD officers 3 contacted the County to investigate the issue through their dispatcher. Id. Shayna Orr, an 4 employee of the MCSO working in the warrant division, told the dispatcher that the subject of the 5 warrant was extraditable or citable. Id. When asked for Huggard’s photograph, Orr sent the 6 booking photos of plaintiff from May 23, 2014, despite having Huggard’s photograph from her 7 2013 booking. Id. Based on the photographs the UPD officers received from Orr, the officers 8 arrested plaintiff pursuant to the warrant under Case No. SC185382A, and sent plaintiff to the 9 Mendocino County Jail. Id. The FAC alleges that as a result of this wrongful unavoidable arrest, plaintiff had to pay 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 $2,500 for bail in order to be released from custody, and had to return to court to continue to deal 12 with the issue of being mistakenly arrested under the warrant naming Huggard. Id. ¶ 43. 13 Plaintiff alleges that on a different occasion she was detained and searched under the 14 pretense that she was Huggard, but she was eventually released. Id. ¶ 44. Plaintiff alleges another 15 instance in 2016 where a CHP officer pulled her over, and over her protestation of mistaken 16 identity, detained her and searched her vehicle pursuant to the warrant for Huggard. Id. at ¶¶ 1, 17 45. At the time, plaintiff was “still pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy.” Id. ¶ 45. The officer 18 did not find any contraband, and plaintiff was eventually released. Id. 19 Around June 2016, the District Attorney dismissed the criminal case against Huggard. Id. 20 ¶ 46. In November 2016, plaintiff sought employment and “was hired pending a background 21 investigation.” Id. ¶ 47. Plaintiff alleges that she was notified approximately two weeks later that 22 the investigation (incorrectly) revealed that she was on probation with the County of Marin, and 23 that “[a]s a result of this erroneous finding contained in a consumer report, her job offer was 24 withdrawn.” Id. 25 Acting in pro per, plaintiff presented a tort claim to the County using the County’s claim 26 form, pursuant to Government Code § 910 et seq. Id. ¶ 17. The claim was filed on October 21, 27 28 5 1 2016. Dkt. 48-1, p. 2.3 On the claim form, plaintiff provided her name, address, phone number, 2 and mailing address. Id. Plaintiff wrote that the date of her injury was “on or between April 15- 3 30, 2016 do not recall exact date.” Id. Under “General Description of Injury, Damage or Loss 4 and Circumstance which Gave Rise to the Claim:” plaintiff wrote, “I was falsely arrested on Marin 5 County warrant from an Erin Huggard using my name after going to court + proving warrant was 6 false in my name.” 7 contributed to false arrest after Bryna Holland sent e-mail stating false warrant was reissued.” Id. Id. Plaintiff also wrote that “Marin County Jail and/Sheriff’s office Plaintiff alleges that the County is the employer of the individual County defendants, and 9 that the County operates the MCSO and the MCJ. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. At all relevant times, Doyle “was 10 employed by Defendant COUNTY as Sheriff for the COUNTY,” and acted “within the course and 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 scope of that employment.” Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that MCSO employees, including Orr, were 12 deliberately indifferent to plaintiff’s Constitutional rights. Id. ¶¶ 31, 39, 41, 42, 54, 55. The FAC 13 also alleges that defendant Doyle “was the final policy making official for the MCSO and the 14 Marin County Jail, ultimately responsible for all policies, procedures, supervision, and training for 15 the MCSO and at the jail and other facilities where booking, fingerprint, photograph, arrest, 16 wanted persons, and arrest warrant information is stored, processed, analyzed, reviewed, updated, 17 investigated, compared, and communication of these subjects is related to other agencies.” Id. ¶ 18 8a. 19 Plaintiff alleges, on information and belief, that law enforcement agencies use local, state 20 and national databases that contain information about outstanding warrants, including state, 21 federal and local identifier numbers that uniquely identify the subject of the warrants. Id. ¶ 50. 22 The California Department of Justice (“CDOJ”) instructs California law enforcement agencies not 23 only to include the warrant subject’s state, federal and local identifier number, but also to record 24 information about persons wrongfully arrested on warrants for another. Id. Further, plaintiff 25 alleges, on information and belief, that the MCSO maintains a recording system or database for 26 3 27 28 Defendants request the Court to take judicial notice of plaintiff’s Claim Form, Dkt. No. 48-1. This document is referenced in the FAC, and plaintiff has not disputed its authenticity. See Dkt. No. 41 at ¶¶ 17, 81, Dkt. No. 54 at 5:7-8, 23:11-12, 24:15-16. Accordingly, the document is properly subject to judicial notice, and the Court takes judicial notice of Dkt. No. 48-1. 6 1 holding suspect information and where information of suspects and wanted persons may be 2 entered by MCSO staff. Id. at ¶ 53. Such information entered into the system or database is 3 forwarded to other agencies, which may rely and use the information to arrest individuals or 4 summon individuals to court. Id. 5 6 II. Procedural Background On June 13, 2017, plaintiff filed a pro se complaint against the County and County of 8 Marin Sheriff Robert T. Doyle, the State of California, the City of Ukiah, and Does 1 through 50. 9 The complaint alleged civil rights violations under federal law, the California state constitution 10 and state law, as well as claims for false imprisonment, false arrest and negligence. Dkt. No. 1. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 7 On August 21, 2017, plaintiff counsel entered an appearance in this case. Dkt. No. 19. In 12 response to a motion to dismiss filed by the State of California, plaintiff filed a statement of non- 13 opposition and stated that she intended to file a first amended complaint. Dkt. No. 20; Dkt. No. 14 25 at 3:7-10. 15 On October 17, 2017, plaintiff filed the FAC. The FAC no longer named the State of 16 California or the City of Ukiah as defendants, and added defendants County of Marin Sheriff’s 17 employee Shayna Orr, CHP Officer Matthew Pender,4 and Does 51 – 200. Dkt. No. 41. The FAC 18 alleges six causes of action: (1) violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 19 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Orr, Doyle, Pender and Does 2-200; (2) Monell and 20 supervisory liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants County, Doyle and Does 61- 21 100; (3) violation of California Constitution Article I, § 13 against defendants County, Orr, Doyle 22 and Does 2-40; (4) violation of California Civil Code § 52.1(b) (“Bane Act”); (5) false arrest and 23 false imprisonment; and (6) negligence. Id. 24 On November 17, 2017, defendants County of Marin and Doyle moved to dismiss the FAC 25 for failure to state a claim. Dkt. No. 48.5 Plaintiff filed a timely opposition to the motion on 26 4 27 28 As discussed at the hearing, the Court directs plaintiff’s counsel to serve Pender with the 5 On November 22, 2017, defendant Orr filed a notice to join defendants’ motion to 7 FAC. 1 December 1, 2017. Dkt. No. 54. Defendants filed an untimely reply on January 26, 2018.6 Dkt. 2 No. 63. 3 LEGAL STANDARD 4 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the 6 pleader is entitled to relief,” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2), and a complaint that fails to do so is subject 7 to dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff 8 must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. 9 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This “facial plausibility” standard requires the plaintiff to 10 allege facts that add up to “more than a sheer possibility that a Defendant has acted unlawfully.” 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 5 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). While courts do not require “heightened fact 12 pleading of specifics,” a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the 13 speculative level.” 14 conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’” Iqbal, 15 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 16 ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 17 557). “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported 18 by factual allegations.” Id. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544, 555. “A pleading that offers ‘labels and 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 dismiss. Dkt. No. 52. Plaintiff objects that Orr’s joinder is improper. The Court finds that plaintiff is not prejudiced by the filing of Orr’s joinder, and the Court will consider defendants’ arguments as they relate to Orr. 6 Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-3, an opposition to a motion must be filed and served no later than fourteen days after the motion was filed, and the reply must be filed and served not more than seven days after the opposition was due. Defendants filed the motion on November 17, 2017, and plaintiff filed a timely opposition on December 1, 2017. Defendants’ reply was therefore due on December 8, 2017. Defendants did not file a reply by that date. The Court continued the hearing date several times, and in a clerk’s notice filed on January 5, 2018, the Court directed defendants to inform the Court by January 8, 2018 whether they intended to file a reply. Defendants did not respond to the clerk’s notice, and instead on January 14, 2018, filed a letter stating that defendants would be filing a reply. Dkt. No. 61. On January 26, 2018, one week before the scheduled hearing date, defendants filed their reply without seeking leave of court to do so. Dkt. No. 63. The Court will not consider any new arguments raised in defendants’ reply. Defense counsel is directed to follow the Civil Local Rules and this Court’s standing orders with regard to all future litigation of this case. 8 1 In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must accept as true all facts alleged in 2 the complaint, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Usher v. City of 3 Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). However, a district court is not required to accept 4 as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable 5 inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). If the Court 6 dismisses a complaint, it must decide whether to grant leave to amend. The Ninth Circuit has 7 “repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the 8 pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the 9 allegation of other facts.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations and 10 internal quotation marks omitted). United States District Court Northern District of California 11 As a general rule, the court may not consider materials beyond the pleadings when ruling 12 on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001). 13 However, the court may take judicial notice of some public records, including the ‘records and 14 reports of administrative bodies.’” United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 909 (9th Cir. 2003) 15 (citing Interstate Nat. Gas Co. v. S. Cal. Gas Co., 209 F.2d 380, 385 (9th Cir.1953)). The court 16 may not take judicial notice of facts in the public record that are subject to reasonable dispute. 17 Lee, 250 F.3d at 690. 18 DISCUSSION 19 20 I. Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments (First Cause of Action) 21 Plaintiff alleges that Doyle and other County employees, acting under the color of state law 22 and pursuant to customs and policies of the County, deprived plaintiff of her Fourth and 23 Fourteenth Amendment rights, violating 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶¶ 61, 77. Doyle and 24 the County move to dismiss plaintiff’s § 1983 claims. 25 26 A. Fourth Amendment 27 Defendants argue that plaintiff’s initial detention in County jail did not deprive plaintiff of 28 her Fourth Amendment rights because the detention was pursuant to a facially valid warrant and 9 1 was therefore reasonable. Plaintiff’s opposition clarifies that she does not challenge the initial 2 arrest and detention in 2014. Dkt. No. 54 at 8:19-23. Instead, plaintiff states that the FAC alleges 3 that the County defendants’ conduct after plaintiff’s wrongful booking into the County jail in May 4 2014 caused the subsequent wrongful arrests and detentions. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶ 63. The Fourth Amendment requires that a warrant particularly describe the subject of the 6 warrant. U.S. Const. amend. IV. A warrant that specifies the subject’s name and a detailed 7 physical description satisfies the particularity requirement. Rivera v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 745 8 F.3d 384, 388 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing United States v. Espinosa, 827 F.2d 604 (9th Cir. 1987)), 9 cert. denied sub nom. Rivera v. Cty. of Los Angeles, Cal., 135 S. Ct. 870 (2014) (Mem.). A law 10 enforcement agency’s failure to update a warrant abstract in its computerized database may violate 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 5 the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement when an individual can show that the 12 description has resulted in his mistaken arrest on numerous occasions. Gant v. Cty. of Los 13 Angeles, 772 F.3d 608, 615-16 (9th Cir. 2014); see also Rogan v. City of Los Angeles, 668 F. 14 Supp. 1384, 1390 (C.D. Cal. 1987) (holding that “a mistaken arrest can deprive a person of his 15 Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when: (a) the arrest warrant is constitutionally infirm; or 16 (b) the arrest warrant is valid but . . . plaintiff is subjected to repeated arrests despite the fact that 17 after the warrant’s issuance the police receive notice of information exonerating the plaintiff”); 18 Smith v. Cty. of Los Angeles, No. CV 11-10666 DDP (PJWx), 2015 WL 12731913, at *3 (C.D. 19 Cal. Jan. 16, 2015) (citing Wanger v. Bonner, 621 F.2d 675, 682 (5th Cir. 1980); Robinson v. City 20 & Cty. of Denver, Colorado, No. 12-CV-00483-WYD-KMT, 2014 WL 1395758, at *5 (D. Colo. 21 Apr. 10, 2014)) (holding that “where the details other than the name are incorrect, the warrant may 22 fail for lack of particularity, even if the name is correct—especially if the incorrect detail is likely 23 to result in an innocent person being arrested”). 24 The Court finds that plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to sustain her claim. With respect 25 to the events subsequent to her initial detention in the County jail in May 2014, the FAC alleges 26 that the County repeatedly failed to update the warrant for Huggard and that these failures 27 foreseeably caused plaintiff’s subsequent mistaken arrests and detentions. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶¶ 52- 28 54, 63. Plaintiff alleges that at least as of May 2014, the County knew that Huggard had used 10 plaintiff’s name and that erroneous information in the warrant for Huggard led to the mistaken 2 arrest and detention of plaintiff under the warrant. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. Despite this knowledge, the 3 County failed to correct its records so that law enforcement officers could distinguish between the 4 subject of the warrant, Huggard, and plaintiff. Id. ¶ 54. In particular, the County continued to 5 issue a warrant for Huggard using plaintiff’s identifying information, including plaintiff’s date of 6 birth and physical description (but not her name), despite a court order to place Huggard’s 7 birthdate on the warrant. Id. ¶¶ 40-41. As a result, plaintiff was mistakenly arrested and detained 8 at least twice under the warrant for Huggard in 2016. Id. ¶¶ 1, 35, 42. Plaintiff alleges a number 9 of other instances where she was detained and searched under the warrant for Huggard. Id. ¶¶ 1, 10 44-45. The Court finds that these allegations are sufficient to state a claim for violation of 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights. 12 Defendants cite Hill v. California, 401 U.S. 797 (1971), for the proposition that “when the 13 police have probable cause to arrest one party, and when they reasonably mistake a second party 14 for the first party, then the arrest of the second party is a valid arrest.” Id. at 802. In Hill, the 15 police had probable cause to arrest a robbery suspect (Hill), and went to Hill’s apartment where 16 they found a man matching Hill’s description, as well as guns and ammunition in plain view. Id. 17 at 799. The police did not have an arrest or search warrant, and they proceeded to arrest the man, 18 searched the apartment, and seized guns, stolen property, and other evidence. The arrestee was 19 not, in fact, Hill, and instead was individual named Miller. Hill was convicted of robbery, largely 20 on the basis of items seized in the search of his apartment. Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, 21 Hill challenged both Miller’s arrest and the search of his apartment incident to Miller’s arrest. The 22 Supreme Court upheld Hill’s conviction, holding that the arrest and search were reasonable 23 because the officers “unquestionably” had probable cause to arrest Hill and based upon all of the 24 circumstances, the officers had a good faith belief that Miller was Hill. Id. at 803-04. 25 If plaintiff were challenging her initial arrest, Hill would support defendants’ arguments 26 for dismissal. However, plaintiff challenges the subsequent mistaken arrests and detentions which 27 she alleges were caused by the failure of County employees to take corrective action on the 28 warrant for Huggard, despite knowledge of plaintiff’s initial mistaken arrest under the warrant and 11 1 the erroneous information on the warrant. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶¶ 8, 31, 41-42. The Court finds that 2 Hill is distinguishable from the facts alleged in this case, and that plaintiff has stated a claim. 3 B. 5 Defendants argue that plaintiff cannot state a claim for a violation of her rights under the 6 Fourteenth Amendment “because the nature of the rights Plaintiff claims were infringed is 7 completely covered by the Fourth Amendment, and therefore her claim is limited to the Fourth 8 Amendment basis.” Dkt. No. 48 at 5. Plaintiff contends that she has a separate right under the 9 Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to be protected from procedures, information 10 systems, or conduct that foreseeably leads to wrongful arrest and detention without specific 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 4 Fourteenth Amendment protective procedures in place. 12 Section 1983 is not a source of substantive rights, and only provides a private cause of 13 action for violation of federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 14 (1989). 15 protection against governmental conduct, that Amendment must be the guide for analyzing these 16 claims. Id. at 395; Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 273 (1994). On the other hand, a detention 17 pursuant to a valid warrant, in the face of repeated protests of innocence, can after a lapse of time 18 deprive an accused of her Fourteenth Amendment due process right to liberty. Fairley v. Luman, 19 281 F.3d 913, 917-18 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 145 (1979)). And 20 the failure to implement readily available procedures for decreasing the risk of wrongful detention 21 may amount to a Fourteenth Amendment deprivation. Gant, 772 F.3d at 619 (citing Fairley, 281 22 F.3d at 918); see also Rivera v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 745 F.3d 384, 390 (9th Cir. 2014) 23 (acknowledging that incarceration based on mistaken identity could violate the Due Process 24 Clause); Smith v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 2015 WL 12731913, at *4 (finding that Fairley stands for 25 the proposition that there can be a Fourteenth Amendment violation that is distinct from a Fourth 26 Amendment particularity inquiry when law enforcement agencies fail to institute procedural 27 safeguards that would have prevented the deprivation of liberty). 28 Where the Fourth Amendment provides an explicit textual source of constitutional Defendants frame plaintiff’s claim as falling solely within the unreasonable search and 12 1 seizure context, and they rely on Podesta v. City of San Leandro, No. C 05-2615 SBA, 2005 WL 2 2333802, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 21, 2005). Dkt. No. 48 at 5:7-12. In Podesta, the plaintiff alleged 3 that police officers had arrested and beaten him, and he brought a claim alleging the violation of 4 his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. The court 5 dismissed the plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment claim because “the gravamen of his Complaint is 6 that he was subjected to an unreasonable search and seizure and possibly excessive force,” and the 7 plaintiff “fail[ed] to explain how any of the facts alleged in the Complaint support a due process 8 clause claim.” Id. at *4. The Court finds that Podesta is inapposite. Plaintiff does not simply allege that her arrests 9 and detentions were unreasonable. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Rather, she alleges that defendants failed to institute reasonable quality control procedures for maintaining and verifying warrant information “to 12 reduce the risk of innocent persons with the same or similar names − or innocent persons whose 13 identities were stolen − from having their identities falsely registered in the MCSO recording 14 system or database, or conflicted with, that of a wanted person.” Dkt. No. 41 ¶ 52. Plaintiff 15 alleges that defendants had notice of the error in the warrant information after plaintiff’s initial 16 arrest and detention at the County jail on May 23, 2014, and that in spite of the systems and 17 procedures available to reduce the risk that plaintiff would be mistakenly identified as Huggard 18 under the warrant, defendants repeatedly failed to take corrective action, resulting in further 19 wrongful arrests and detentions. Id. ¶¶ 31, 52. The Court finds that plaintiff has alleged sufficient 20 facts to state a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, and DENIES defendants’ motion to 21 dismiss plaintiff’s first cause of action. 22 23 II. Municipal and Supervisory Liability (Second Cause of Action) 24 A. Monell Liability 25 Defendants argue that plaintiff has failed to allege a basis for municipal liability under 26 Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Local governments may 27 be liable under § 1983 only when the actions of their employees in executing a government policy 28 or custom deprive a plaintiff of his or her constitutional rights. Id. at 694; Castro v. Cty. of Los 13 1 Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1073 (9th Cir. 2016), cert. denied sub nom. Los Angeles Cty., Cal. v. 2 Castro, 137 S. Ct. 831 (2017). In addition, local governments may be held liable for acts of 3 omission, such as a failure to train, committed with deliberate indifference to a constitutional right. 4 Clouthier v. Cty. of Contra Costa, 591 F.3d 1232, 1249 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing City of Canton v. 5 Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 389-90 (1989)), overruled on other grounds by Castro, 833 F.3d at 1070. 6 Further, “the dictates of Monell are satisfied” when a plaintiff establishes that the municipality 7 policymakers were put on actual or constructive notice that a particular omission is substantially 8 certain to deprive their citizens of their constitutional rights. Castro, 833 F.3d at 1076 (citing 9 Canton, 489 U.S. at 396). The Court concludes that plaintiff has alleged a basis for municipal liability. Plaintiff has 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 alleged that the County, its supervisors, and MCSO policymakers were deliberately indifferent 12 because they, inter alia: (1) failed to take any corrective action after plaintiff was first falsely 13 booked on the warrant in May 2014; (2) continued to maintain the incorrect warrant after her 14 plaintiff’s February 2016 wrongful arrest, including failing to take corrective action despite the 15 actual and constructive notice provided by plaintiff’s March 9 and March 25, 2016 court dates 16 (after which a MCSO employee re-issued the warrant on March 29, 2016); and (3) failed to correct 17 the date of birth on the warrant, in violation of Judge Boren’s April 8, 2016 order to do so. Dkt. 18 41, ¶¶ 27-31, 35, 37-39, 40-42. In addition, plaintiff alleges that Orr sent plaintiff’s booking photo 19 to the Ukiah police after being informed by the Ukiah police that plaintiff claimed she was not 20 Huggard and that she had been repeatedly mistakenly arrested under the warrant issued for 21 Huggard. Id. ¶ 42. The FAC also alleges that the alleged constitutional violations plaintiff 22 suffered were caused by a failure to train municipal employees adequately, and a failure to enact 23 or execute policies and procedures for decreasing the risk of erroneous arrests based on incorrect 24 information in warrants. Id. ¶¶ 77-79. These allegations are sufficient to state a claim for Monell 25 liability. 26 27 B. Supervisory Liability 28 Plaintiff alleges that Doyle and other unnamed supervising employees (currently Doe 14 1 defendants) directed their subordinates’ actions, set in motion a series of acts and omissions by 2 subordinates, or failed to prevent subordinates’ conduct, knowing that the subordinates’ conduct 3 violated and will violate plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶ 73. Defendants move to 4 dismiss plaintiff’s claim of supervisory liability against Doyle, arguing that the FAC’s allegations 5 against Doyle are conclusory. “A supervisor is only liable for the constitutional violations of . . . subordinates if the 7 supervisor participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to 8 prevent them. There is no respondeat superior liability under [§] 1983.” Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 9 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989) (citations omitted); see also Maxwell v. Cty. of San Diego, 708 F.3d 10 1075, 1097 (9th Cir. 2013) (“[T]here is no respondeat superior liability under § 1983. Rather, a 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 government official may be held liable only for the official’s own conduct.”). A supervisor may 12 be liable under § 1983 upon a showing of his or her personal involvement in the constitutional 13 deprivation, or a sufficient causal connection between the supervisor’s wrongful conduct and the 14 constitutional violation. Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1207 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Hansen v. 15 Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989)). A sufficient causal connection may be established by 16 the supervisor’s own culpable action or inaction in the training, supervision, or control of his 17 subordinates; his acquiescence in the constitutional deprivations of which the complaint is made; 18 or conduct that showed a reckless or callous indifference to the rights of others. Id. at 1205-06 19 (citing Larez v. City of Los Angeles, 946 F.2d 630, 646 (9th Cir. 1991)). 20 The Court finds that plaintiff has alleged enough to hold Doyle liable as a supervisor. The 21 FAC alleges that Doyle was the final policy making official at the MCSO and MCJ, and was 22 “ultimately responsible” for all procedures, supervision and training at the County facilities where 23 identifying information about the subject of a warrant is managed and communicated to other 24 agencies. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that under Doyle’s supervision, MCSO employees 25 repeatedly failed to update the warrant for Huggard to include Huggard’s date of birth and other 26 identifying information, despite the MCSO having actual notice of the erroneous information in 27 Huggard’s warrant Id. at ¶¶ 8, 30-31, 40-41. Plaintiff also alleges, inter alia, that Doyle failed to 28 institute procedures for decreasing the risk of erroneous detention of individuals in connection 15 1 with County warrants, failed to train employees or maintaining accurate information correlated to 2 wanted persons, and failed to enact and/or maintain policies and procedures to ensure an accurate 3 warrant database system. Id. ¶ 77. The Court finds that these allegations are sufficient. See M.H. 4 v. County of Alameda, 90 F. Supp. 3d 889, 900-01 (N.D. Cal. 2013) (in § 1983 case alleging 5 deliberate indifference to medical needs, holding allegations of supervisory liability sufficient 6 where plaintiff alleged that defendant was medical director, was responsible for making and 7 enforcing policies, procedures and training related to medical care of inmates, and that defendant 8 approved, tolerated and/or ratified acts and omissions of healthcare personnel).7 9 10 III. California Constitution Article I, section 13 (Third Cause of Action) United States District Court Northern District of California 11 The FAC alleges that County employees are liable for the seizure and incarceration of 12 plaintiff, and for setting into motion the chain of events that led to the search and seizure of 13 plaintiff’s person and vehicle, in violation of Article I, section 13 of the California Constitution. 14 Dkt. No. 41 at ¶¶ 86-87. Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff’s claim on the ground that section 15 13 does not provide greater protection than that provided by the Fourth Amendment of the United 16 States Constitution. 17 Like the Fourth Amendment, section 13 requires a warrant to particularly describe the 18 subject of the warrant. Cal. Const. art. I, § 13. California courts have treated section 13 as 19 “substantially equivalent” to the Supreme Court’s construction of the Fourth Amendment. Blair v. 20 Pitchess, 5 Cal. 3d 258, 270-71, n. 6 (1971). As discussed above, the Court finds that plaintiff has 21 stated a claim for a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights, and thus DENIES defendants’ 22 motion to dismiss the third cause of action. 23 24 25 IV. Bane Act (Fourth Cause of Action) The FAC alleges that County employees are liable for acting in concert or conspiracy, and 26 27 28 7 Defendants also move to dismiss the claims against Doyle on the basis of qualified immunity. The Court finds that resolving whether Doyle is entitled to qualified immunity requires a determination of factual issues, and therefore cannot be resolved at this stage in this litigation. 16 1 with threat, intimidation or coercion to deprive plaintiff of her rights under the Bane Act, Cal. Civ. 2 Code § 52.1, by, inter alia, violating plaintiff’s rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth 3 Amendments and the California Constitution. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶ 92. 4 Defendants move to dismiss this claim on the ground that plaintiff has not alleged any 5 threats, intimidation or coercion separate and independent from the alleged wrongful conduct 6 violating her constitutional rights. Plaintiff responds that the Bane Act does not require a threat, 7 intimidation or coercion independent from that inherent in an unlawful arrest. The Bane Act makes a person liable for conduct that deprives an individual of his or her 9 rights “secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of the rights secured by the 10 Constitution or laws of” California through “threat, intimidation, or coercion.” Cal. Civ. Code 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 § 52.1(a). A “plaintiff in a search-and-seizure case must allege threats or coercion beyond the 12 coercion inherent in a detention or search in order to recover under the Bane Act.” Lyall v. City of 13 Los Angeles, 807 F.3d 1178, 1196 (9th Cir. 2015) (citing Shoyoye v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 203 Cal. 14 App. 4th 947, 960 (2012)). Where a claim arises from an unlawful arrest, the plaintiff can meet 15 the coercion requirement of the Bane Act by showing specific intent to violate the plaintiff’s right 16 to freedom from unreasonable seizure, rather than by showing “something beyond the coercion 17 ‘inherent’ in the wrongful detention.” Cornell v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 17 Cal. App. 5th 18 766, 797-99, 801-02 (Ct. App. 2017) (distinguishing from Shoyoye on the ground that the plaintiff 19 in Shoyoye did not suffer a constitutional violation).8 In setting out its test, the Cornell court held 20 that the specific intent element is met when (1) “the right at issue is clearly delineated and plainly 21 applicable” to the circumstances; and (2) the defendant committed the act in question “with the 22 particular purpose of depriving” or with “reckless disregard” of the person’s right. Cornell, 17 23 Cal. App. 5th at 803-04. 24 25 26 27 28 8 In Shoyoye, the court found that the plaintiff did not suffer any constitutional violation because his over-detention in jail arose from a lawful arrest combined with the jailer’s negligence. Shoyoye, 203 Cal. App. 4th at 957-58. Noting that the “statutory framework of section 52.1 indicates that the Legislature meant the statute to address interference with constitutional rights involving more egregious conduct than mere negligence,” the court found that the plaintiff’s claim did not show “coercion independent from the coercion inherent in a wrongful detention itself.” Id. at 958, 960. 17 1 This Court finds the reasoning in Cornell persuasive, and that the present facts are 2 distinguishable from Shoyoye, which did not involve a claim of an illegal arrest. Plaintiff has 3 alleged that she was deprived of her constitutional rights, and that County employees acted with 4 reckless disregard and/or deliberate indifference of her rights. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶ 68. Plaintiff’s 5 allegations are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. See Cornell, 17 Cal. App. 5th at 803-04 6 (holding that a jury must make a factual determination whether the defendant committed the act 7 “with the particular purpose of depriving” the plaintiff of his constitutional right). The County also argues that it is immune from liability because the Bane Act does not 9 provide a basis for a direct liability claim against the County. Plaintiff’s opposition clarifies that 10 plaintiff is not seeking a direct Bane Act Claim against the County, but rather the plaintiff seeks to 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 hold the County vicariously liable for injuries proximately caused by its employees. Dkt. No. 41 12 at ¶ 94. Under California law, public entities are liable for injuries proximately caused by their 13 employees’ actions within the scope of employment, but public entities are immune from liability 14 to the extent their employees are immune from liability. Gant, 772 F.3d at 623; Cal. Gov’t Code 15 § 815.2. Here, defendants do not argue that any of the County employees were immune from 16 liability under the Bane Act. Accordingly, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claim under the 17 18 Bane Act. 19 20 V. False Arrest and False Imprisonment (Fifth Cause of Action) 21 Plaintiff alleges that County employees are liable for proximately causing plaintiff’s false 22 arrest and false imprisonment, and that the County is vicariously liable under this claim for injury 23 proximately caused by its employee’s conduct, committed within the scope of his or her 24 employment. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶¶ 97-99. Defendants move to dismiss the false arrest and false 25 imprisonment claim on the grounds that no County employee actually arrested plaintiff, was 26 responsible for the erroneous information in the warrant that led to plaintiff’s initial arrest, or was 27 aware of the wrongful information in the arrest warrant. 28 “The tort of false imprisonment and false arrest are considered one in the same, because 18 1 false arrest is but one way of committing a false imprisonment.” Martin v. Cty. of San Diego, 650 2 F. Supp. 2d 1094, 1105 (S.D. Cal. 2009), on reconsideration in part (Oct. 23, 2009) (quotation 3 omitted). False imprisonment requires (1) “the nonconsensual, intentional confinement of a 4 person,” (2) “without lawful privilege,” and (3) “for an appreciable period of time, however brief.” 5 Shoyoye, 203 Cal. App. 4th at 962 (quoting Easton v. Sutter Coast Hospital 80 Cal. App. 4th 485, 6 496 (Ct. App. 2000)). “A person who sets in motion a false arrest/imprisonment can be held liable 7 for the tort even if he does not directly participate in the actionable conduct.” Martin, 650 F. 8 Supp. 2d at 1106 (citing Bell v. State of California, 63 Cal. App. 4th 919, 928 (Ct. App. 1998) 9 (finding “defendants could be held liable for false arrest effected by other officers where 10 defendants’ conduct lead to the unlawful arrest”)). United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Plaintiff alleges that she was falsely imprisoned when she was detained by law 12 enforcement officers in February and May of 2016, as well as other unspecified dates. Dkt. No. 13 41 at ¶¶ 1, 35, 42. Although County officers did not arrest plaintiff in February or May 2016, the 14 FAC alleges that the County defendants are liable for those false arrests due to their repeated 15 failures to correct the warrant information. See Dkt. No. 41 at ¶¶ 8, 30-31, 40-41. Further, with 16 regard to the May 2016 arrest, plaintiff alleges that Orr knew or reasonably should have known 17 that plaintiff was not Huggard and that plaintiff had been mistakenly booked into the County jail 18 in 2014 on the warrant for Huggard, and nevertheless sent plaintiff’s picture from the 2014 19 booking to the Ukiah Police Department officer when asked for a photograph of the subject of the 20 warrant for Huggard. Id. ¶ 42. Plaintiff argues that because Orr was acting within the course and 21 scope of employment by the County, the County may be held vicariously liable for her conduct. 22 Id. ¶ 8; Cal. Gov’t Code § 815.2. The Court finds that the FAC alleges sufficient facts to sustain 23 her false imprisonment claim against defendants, and accordingly, the Court DENIES the motion 24 to dismiss plaintiff’s false imprisonment/arrest claim. 25 26 VI. Negligence (Sixth Cause of Action) 27 Plaintiff alleges that defendants owed her a duty to (a) investigate before causing plaintiff 28 to be seized; (b) correct information known to be incorrect to prevent plaintiff from being arrested 19 1 and imprisoned based on mistaken identity; (c) investigate before seeking arrest of or summoning 2 plaintiff; (d) seek, obtain or follow training and experience in investigating and correcting false 3 information; (e) refrain from causing unlawful and wrongful seizures; and (f) refrain from 4 violating plaintiff’s rights secured under the U.S. Constitution, and under the California 5 Constitution and laws. Dkt. No. 41 at ¶ 105. The FAC alleges that County employees acted 6 negligently and breached their duty of care, which resulted in plaintiff’s injury. Id. at ¶ 107. The 7 County is vicariously liable under this claim for injury proximately caused by its employee’s 8 conduct, committed within the scope of his or her employment. Id. at ¶ 106. Defendants argue 9 that the County employees had no duty to inquire into the validity and accuracy of a search 10 warrant issued by a Superior Court, and therefore owed no duty of care to plaintiff. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 To establish a negligence claim, a plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty to use 12 reasonable care, the defendant breached that duty, and the breach was the proximate or legal cause 13 of the resulting injury. Hayes v. County of San Diego, 57 Cal. 4th 622, 629 (Ct. App. 2013). 14 Reasonableness of conduct is determined in light of the totality of the circumstances. Id. “A 15 defendant owes a duty of care to all persons who are foreseeably endangered by his conduct, with 16 respect to all risks which make the conduct unreasonably dangerous.” Giraldo v. California Dep't 17 of Corr. & Rehab., 168 Cal. App. 4th 231, 245 (Ct. App. 2008) (quoting Tarasoff v. Regents of 18 University of California, 17 Cal. 3d 425, 434-435 (1976)). “A person who has not created a peril 19 is not liable in tort merely for failure to take affirmative action to assist or protect another unless 20 there is some relationship between them which gives rise to a duty to act.” Williams v. State of 21 California, 34 Cal. 3d 18, 23 (1983). A special relationship between the police and an individual 22 may exist where the police created or increased a peril by affirmative acts. M.B. v. City of San 23 Diego, 233 Cal. App. 3d 699, 704-05 (Ct. App. 1991) (citing McCorkle v. City of Los Angeles, 70 24 Cal. 2d 252 (1969) (finding that a police officer investigating an auto collision in which the 25 plaintiff was involved had a duty of reasonable care when the police officer asked the plaintiff to 26 come to the middle of the intersection and another car hit the plaintiff)); Williams, 34 Cal. 3 at 24 27 (citing McCorkle, 70 Cal. 2d 252; Morgan v. County of Yuba, 230 Cal. App. 2d 938 (Ct. App. 28 1964)) (recognizing a breach of duty where an affirmative act, omission or failure to act places a 20 1 person in peril or increases the risk of harm). 2 Plaintiff argues that by booking and obtaining plaintiff’s identifying information under the 3 warrant for Huggard, County employees took affirmative acts which foreseeably increased the risk 4 that plaintiff’s identifying information would become wrongly associated with the warrant, and 5 that she would be arrested again under the warrant. The FAC alleges, on information and belief, 6 that the County maintained a database containing identifying information of suspects and wanted 7 persons, as well as information on persons wrongfully arrested on warrants for another. Id. The 8 Court finds that the FAC plausibly alleges that there were County employees who knew that 9 plaintiff was mistakenly booked and detained under the warrant for Huggard, and thus had a duty 10 to use reasonable care to mitigate the risk of future wrongful arrests. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Plaintiff alleges that County employees failed to take corrective action after the May 2014 12 incident, and thereby wrongfully and foreseeably caused plaintiff to be arrested and detained 13 multiple times under the warrant for Huggard. Id. at ¶¶ 31-32, 35, 40-42, 44-45, 52, 54. Plaintiff 14 alleges that she sustained injuries, including emotional distress, as a proximate result of 15 defendants’ acts and omissions. Id. at ¶ 59. This Court finds that plaintiff has alleged sufficient 16 facts to state a claim for negligence against the defendants, and DENIES defendants’ motion to 17 dismiss this claim. 18 19 VII. Compliance with the California Government Claims Act 20 Defendants argue that plaintiff’s California state law claims (Third-Sixth Causes of 21 Action) are barred because plaintiff did not comply with procedural requirements under the 22 California Government Claims Act. Defendants argue that plaintiff’s cause of action accrued in 23 May 2014, when plaintiff allegedly was mistakenly arrested and detained at the County jail, and 24 therefore that her October 21, 2016 tort claim was untimely. 25 plaintiff’s challenge to the February 2016 arrest and detention is also untimely, and that plaintiff’s 26 claim form does not embrace the alleged May 10, 2016 arrest because the claim form states that 27 she was arrested “between April 15-30 2016 do not recall exact date.” Dkt. No. 48-1 at 2. 28 Defendants also contend that Plaintiff contends that her Government Code claim substantially complied with the statute 21 1 because it provided the County with sufficient information to investigate her claim and the County 2 was not prejudiced. Plaintiff argues that her claims did not accrue in May 2014 because she only 3 asserts state law claims arising out of her arrests in February and May 2016. Plaintiff asserts that 4 her claim was filed well within six months from the May 10, 2016 arrest, and she argues that the 5 May 10, 2016 arrest is close to the April 15-30, 2016 time period that plaintiff wrote down on the 6 claim form. Plaintiff also argues that the February 2016 arrest is encompassed within her claim 7 pursuant to the continuous violation doctrine. Before filing suit on tort claims against certain state actors, a plaintiff must file a 9 government claim pursuant to the California Government Claims Act. Cal. Gov. Code. § 810 et 10 seq. A plaintiff must present her claim “not later than six months after the accrual of the cause of 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 action.” Cal. Gov. Code. § 911.2. The cause of action accrues on the date when the cause of 12 action became actionable. Cal. Gov’t Code § 901. A cause of action accrues when it is “complete 13 with all of its elements,” including wrongdoing, harm and causation. Aryeh v. Canon Bus. Sols., 14 Inc., 55 Cal. 4th 1185, 1191 (2013); Garber v. City of Clovis, 698 F. Supp. 2d 1204, 1212 (E.D. 15 Cal. 2010). 16 The purpose of the claims statutes is “to provide the public entity sufficient information to 17 enable it to adequately investigate claims and to settle them, if appropriate, without the expense of 18 litigation.” 19 quotations omitted). Accordingly, a suit should not be dismissed for failure to comply with the 20 statute as long as the plaintiff has provided “sufficient information . . . on the face of the filed 21 claim to reasonably enable the public entity to make an adequate investigation of the merits of the 22 claim and to settle it without the expense of a lawsuit.” City of San Jose v. Superior Court, 12 23 Cal. 3d 447, 456 (Cal. 1974). This is known as the doctrine of “substantial compliance.” Id. at 24 456-57; Elias v. San Bernardino County Flood Control Dist., 68 Cal. App.3d 70, 74 (Cal. Ct. App. 25 1977) (“courts employ a test of substantial rather than strict compliance in evaluating whether a 26 plaintiff has met the demands of the claims act”). DiCampli-Mintz v. Cty. of Santa Clara, 55 Cal. 4th 983, 991 (2012) (internal 27 The Court finds that plaintiff’s claim form provided the County with sufficient information 28 to allow the County to adequately investigate the claims arising from the February and May 2016 22 arrests. As an initial matter, the Court notes that plaintiff filed her claim form pro se, and the 2 Court considers that fact when evaluating the sufficiency of plaintiff’s claim form. Plaintiff’s 3 claim form stated that plaintiff was falsely arrested around April 15-30, 2016 (and expressly noted 4 that she wasn’t sure of the exact date), and the form stated that the warrant under which she was 5 arrested was for “Erin Huggard.” The claim form stated that plaintiff had been falsely arrested 6 after going to court and proving that the warrant was “false,” that the false warrant had been 7 “reissued” by the County Sheriff’s Office, and plaintiff stated that the responsible County 8 employees were “court and jail employees of jail and Sheriff’s office including public defender 9 Bryna Holland.” Dkt. No. 48-1. Based upon all of this information, the Court finds that the 10 County was given sufficient information in the claim form to determine that plaintiff had been 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 arrested in February and May 2016 (based on, inter alia, the arrest records, the warrant for 12 Huggard, and the March 2016 court proceedings in which plaintiff asserted she had been falsely 13 arrested under the warrant for Huggard). Further, defendants have not argued that any prejudice 14 arose from plaintiff’s failure to list the correct dates of her arrests. As such, plaintiff’s claim form 15 substantially complied with the statutory requirements. 16 There is no dispute that plaintiff filed her claim form within six months of her May 2016 17 arrest, and thus plaintiff’s claims regarding the May 2016 arrest are timely. The Court also finds 18 that, at least as a pleading matter, that plaintiff has alleged facts showing that the February 2016 19 arrest was result of a continuing course of conduct taken by the County employees. Thus, plaintiff 20 may “seek relief for events outside of the limitations period if a series of violations are related 21 closely enough to constitute a continuing violation, and if one or more of the violations falls 22 within the limitations period.” Parsons v. Alameda Cty. Sheriff Dep’t, No. 14-CV-04674-HSG, 23 2016 WL 1258590, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 31, 2016) (citing Knox v. Davis, 260 F.3d 1009, 1013 24 (9th Cir. 2001)); Aryeh, 55 Cal. 4th at 1197-98; Garber, 698 F. Supp. 2d at 1212-13. The Court 25 DENIES the motion to dismiss plaintiff’s state law claims for failing to comply with the California 26 Government Claims Act.9 27 9 28 The Court’s order does not preclude the County defendants from showing, as a factual matter after discovery, that the February 2016 arrest was not closely related to the May 2016 23 1 2 VIII. Standing for Injunctive Relief 3 Defendants move to dismiss plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief on the ground that 4 plaintiff has failed to allege facts to establish an imminent threat of irreparable harm and therefore 5 lacks standing. A plaintiff is entitled to equitable relief only if there is a “likelihood of substantial and 7 immediate irreparable injury” from the same wrong suffered. City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 8 U.S. 95, 111 (1983). 9 immediate threat of repeated injury.” O’Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 496 (1974). A plaintiff 10 may sufficiently allege “likelihood of substantial and immediate irreparable injury” where the 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 complaint adequately alleges that the defendant’s conduct violated plaintiff’s constitutional right 12 on numerous occasions and will continue to do so. Chavez v. United States, 226 F. App’x 732, 13 737 (9th Cir. 2007). “[P]ast wrongs are evidence bearing on whether there is a real and 14 Here, although the FAC alleges that the criminal case against Huggard (Case No. 15 SC185382A) was dismissed around June 2016, plaintiff alleges that she suffered harm after that 16 date as a result of defendants’ conduct. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that in November 2016, she 17 applied for a job and was hired pending a background investigation. Dkt. No. 41 ¶ 47. The 18 employer later rescinded the employment offer after the background check erroneously shows that 19 plaintiff (actually Huggard) had a criminal conviction and was on probation with the County of 20 Marin. Id. The Court finds that these allegations are sufficient to confer standing for injunctive 21 relief at this stage of the litigation, and accordingly, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss 22 plaintiff’s requests for injunctive and declaratory relief.10 23 24 25 26 27 28 arrest. 10 Plaintiff’s opposition clarifies that she is not asserting a separate claim regarding the November 2016 job denial, but rather that it is an element of the damages she is seeking. Dkt. No. 54 at 23 n.6. 24 CONCLUSION 1 2 For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES defendants’ motion to dismiss. 3 4 IT IS SO ORDERED. 5 6 7 Dated: February 14, 2018 ______________________________________ SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 25