Organics v. Cnty. of San Diego

Decision Date18 September 2018
Docket NumberCase No.: 15-CV-854 JLS (MDD)
Citation341 F.Supp.3d 1129
Parties OCEANSIDE ORGANICS; Oceanside Farm to Table, Inc.; Alan Shelton; Justine Shelton; Ron Mirolla; Lisa Rigg; Michael Winkleman ; Sarah Dyal; Anthony Carbonne; Richard Davis; David Snyder; Duane Lewis; Sandra Lewis; Wayne Larson; Shawn Smith; Kyle Sneller; Buck Hutcherson; Logan Pierce ; Brook Bishop; Ron Bocian, Plaintiffs, v. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, San Diego County Sheriff's Department; William Gore; Tim Clark; Matt Stevens; and Does 1-10 Inclusive, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of California

Daniel Bartlett Callaway, Daniel Callaway, Oceanside, CA, for Plaintiffs.

Christina Isabel Vilaseca, San Diego County Counsel, San Diego, CA, for Defendants.

ORDER: (1) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS; AND (2) DISMISSING WITH PREJUDICE PLAINTIFFS' FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT

Hon. Janis L. Sammartino, United States District JudgePresently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint. ("MTD," ECF No. 47.) Also before the Court is Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to, ("Opp'n," ECF No. 48), and Defendants' Reply in Support of, ("Reply," ECF No. 50), the Motion to Dismiss. Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court rules as follows.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Oceanside Organics is a "not for profit closed loop marijuana collective" operating in San Diego County, California. (Fourth Am. Compl. ("FAC"), ECF No. 46, ¶ 19.) The other plaintiffs are Oceanside Organics' sixteen individual members and a corporation formed to purchase the property upon which Oceanside Organics grows its medical marijuana. (Id. ¶¶ 3–18, 20.)

Plaintiffs agreed to contact local law enforcement to ensure the legality and compliance of their collective. (Id. ¶ 28.) In mid-July 2014, Plaintiffs' counsel, Daniel Callaway, contacted Defendant Tim Clark, a Deputy Sheriff with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 29.) In the course of their correspondence, Plaintiffs' counsel provided to Defendant Clark "copies of all valid recommendations" for medical marijuana. (Id. ¶ 31.) Defendant Clark told Plaintiffs' counsel that the Sheriff's Department considered medical marijuana recommendations invalid and only county-issued identification cards to be valid. (Id. ¶ 29.) In response, some Plaintiffs also "acquired state medical marijuana cards as requested by [D]eputy Clark." (Id. ) According to Plaintiffs' counsel, "Deputy Clark repeatedly indicated to [Plaintiffs' counsel] that no legal action would be taken against the collective operation and that nobody at the cultivation site would be subject to arrest." (Id. ) Defendant Clark "thanked attorney Callaway for the transparency and stated that the collective members were ‘golden’ and the cultivation operation was operating legally." (Id. )

Defendant Clark also communicated via text message with Plaintiffs' counsel. At some point, Clark stated via text that no one at the cultivation site would be subject to arrest. (Id. ) He also confirmed to Plaintiffs' attorney that the collective was allowed six mature marijuana plants per valid state identification card. (Id. )

Despite being told they were "golden," Plaintiffs allege "Deputy Clark conspired with [D]eputy Stevens to have an illegal search warrant issued[,] which was based on a knowingly false affidavit." (Id. ¶¶ 23, 31.) According to Plaintiffs, the affidavit was false because both deputies knew that the collective cultivation operation was operating legally. (Id. ¶ 31.) On September 12, 2014, the Sheriff's Department raided Plaintiffs' property, (id. ¶ 29), and Defendants Clark and Stevens Plaintiffs arrested Shawn Smith and Kyle Sneller "without probable cause ... for felony cultivation of marijuana," (id. ¶ 50). The sheriffs also confiscated Plaintiffs' marijuana plants. (Id. ¶ 59.) "At the time of the raid ..., there were over 20 valid members of the collective and 31 medical marijuana plants on site." (Id. ¶ 32.) Plaintiffs allege that after the raid occurred, Defendant Clark admitted to Plaintiffs' attorney and Plaintiffs Sneller and Smith that the Department took the action because "it is the position of the San Diego Sheriff's Department that no cultivation of marijuana is legal in San Diego County." (Id. ¶ 29.)

As a result of Defendants' actions, Plaintiffs "suffered loss of illegally confiscated medical marijuana, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, [and] violation of civil rights under the Constitution of the United States and the State of California." (Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiffs allege Defendant County of San Diego is also liable because, among other reasons, it

maintain[ed] a custom, policy and practice of violating the legal rights of valid medical marijuana patients in San Diego County by failing to properly train and supervise deputies ... [and] allowed [the Sheriff's Department] to violate the guidelines of the Attorney General for the State of California regarding the security and non-diversion of marijuana grown for medical use in the State of California.

(Id. ¶ 25.) "As a proximate result of the custom, policy and practice of the County of San Diego an illegal warrant was issued, [and the] illegal raid ... t[ook] place." (Id. ¶ 39.)

On April 17, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint, setting forth causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California law. (See ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs' operative complaint has been dismissed without prejudice four times. Plaintiffs filed their Fourth Amended Complaint on March 25, 2018, and Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on April 9, 2018.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by motion the defense that the complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," generally referred to as a motion to dismiss. The Court evaluates whether a complaint states a cognizable legal theory and sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although Rule 8"does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,’ ... it [does] demand more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) ). In other words, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (citing Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986) ). A complaint will not suffice "if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s] devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’ " Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 677, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955 ).

To survive a motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ " Id. (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 ); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A claim is facially plausible when the facts pled "allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 677, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955 ). That is not to say that the claim must be probable, but there must be "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Facts " ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant's liability" fall short of a plausible entitlement to relief. Id.(quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955 ). Further, the Court need not accept as true "legal conclusions" contained in the complaint. Id. This review requires context-specific analysis involving the Court's "judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citation omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged—but it has not ‘show[n]‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.’ " Id.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs bring seven causes of action; four are federal causes of action arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983—a Monell claim against the County, a conspiracy to violate civil rights claim, a judicial deception claim, and a false arrest and malicious prosecution claim. The remaining claims arise under California law—a false arrest and malicious prosecution claim, a conversion claim, and a violation of California Civil Code § 52.1. To establish liability under section 1983, Plaintiffs must show (1) that they were deprived of a right secured by the United States Constitution or a federal law and (2) that the deprivation was effected "under color of state law." Broam v. Bogan , 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Flagg Bros., Inc. v. Brooks , 436 U.S. 149, 155, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 56 L.Ed.2d 185 (1978) ) (internal quotation marks omitted). The dispositive issue in this Order is whether Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient factual matter to state a claim for a constitutional deprivation. As will be seen, a constitutional deprivation is the necessary predicate for each of Plaintiffs' federal causes of action.

Accordingly, the Court will discuss Plaintiffs' causes of action in a different order than presented in the Fourth Amended Complaint. The Court begins with Plaintiffs' causes of action that deal directly with alleged constitutional violations: the third claim for judicial deception and the fifth claim for § 1983 false arrest and malicious prosecution claim. Then, the Court discusses Plaintiffs' Monell claim and conspiracy claim—both of which require a predicate constitutional violation. Finally, the Court addresses Plaintiffs'...

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    • United States
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    • June 14, 2019
    ...conducted pursuant to an "ill-begotten or otherwise invalid warrant" is a claim for judicial deception. Oceanside Organics v. Cty. of San Diego, 341 F.Supp.3d 1129, 1136 (S.D. Cal. 2018). To state a claim that the officer is liable under the Fourth Amendment for judicial deception, "a § 198......
  • Thornton v. Barrett
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Idaho
    • March 27, 2019
    ...a constitutional violation, the Court need not address his failure to train/supervise theory. Oceanside Organics v. Cty. of San Diego, 341 F.Supp. 3d 1129, 1145 (S.D. Cal. 2018).IV. ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS The Barretts and the State Defendants request attorney fees and costs against Thornto......
  • Palmer v. Mont. Dep't of Health & Human Servs.
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    • December 14, 2021
    ... ... of medical marijuana providers. See e.g. Oceanside ... Organics v. Cty. of San Diego , 341 F.Supp.3d 1129, 1137 ... (S.D. Cal. 2018); Demoura v. Ford , 2010 ... ...

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