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Ruggles v. City of Scottsdale

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 30, 2019

Bradley J. Ruggles, Plaintiff,
City of Scottsdale, et al., Defendants.


          Honorable Steven P. Logan United States District Judge

         Before the Court is City of Scottsdale's (the “Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third Complaint (the “Motion”). (Doc. 44) The Motion was fully briefed on August 5, 2019, and the Plaintiff requested oral argument. (Docs. 53, 54) Because it would not assist in resolution of the instant issues, the Court finds the pending motion is suitable for decision without oral argument. See LRCiv. 7.2(f); Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); Partridge v. Reich, 141 F.3d 920, 926 (9th Cir. 1998). For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be granted.

         I. Background

         This case arises out of a domestic dispute involving Bradley J. Ruggles (the “Plaintiff”) in November 2016. (Doc. 38 at 2; Doc. 44 at 3) As a result of the domestic dispute, the Plaintiff was arrested by a City of Scottsdale police officer and charged with assault and disorderly conduct. (Doc. 44 at 4) The charges against the Plaintiff were dismissed on July 14, 2017. (Doc. 44 at 6) The Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on July 13, 2018 in the Maricopa County Superior Court, alleging claims for violations of his constitutional rights and malicious prosecution. (Doc. 1-3) On April 29, 2019, the Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint (the “Complaint”) alleging identical causes of action related to his arrest and prosecution for assault and disorderly conduct. (Doc. 38)

         II. Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” such that the defendant is given “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). The Court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule 12(b)(6) for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory, and (2) insufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacificia Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must “accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of material fact, and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). In comparison, “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences” are not entitled to the assumption of truth, and “are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.” Id.; In re Cutera Sec. Litig., 610 F.3d 1103, 1108 (9th Cir. 2010). A plaintiff need not prove the case on the pleadings to survive a motion to dismiss. OSU Student All. v. Ray, 699 F.3d 1053, 1078 (9th Cir. 2012).

         A court ordinarily may not consider evidence outside the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Zemelka v. Trans Union LLC, 2019 WL 2327813, at 1 (D. Ariz. May 31, 2019) (citing United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 907 (9th Cir. 2003)). “A court may, however, consider materials-documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice-without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment.” Id. Additionally, “[e]ven if a document is not attached to a complaint, it may be incorporated by reference into a complaint if the plaintiff refers extensively to the document or the document forms the basis of the plaintiff's claim.” Lovelace v. Equifax Info. Servs. LLC, 2019 WL 2410800, at 1 (D. Ariz. June 7, 2019) (citing Ritchie, 342 F.3d at 908). A plaintiff need “not explicitly allege the contents of that document in the complaint” for the court to consider it, as long as the “plaintiff's claim depends on the contents of [the] document, the defendant attaches the document to its motion to dismiss, and the parties do not dispute the authenticity of the document.” Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005). “[T]he district court may treat such a document as part of the complaint, and thus may assume that its contents are true for purposes of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Ritchie, 342 F.3d at 908.

         III. Analysis

         A. Claim Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983

          In the Complaint, the Plaintiff generally asserts a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but the Plaintiff does not clearly identify the basis of this claim. (Doc. 38 at 4) Instead the Plaintiff states that this claim arises out of the “alleged constitutional violations of [his] rights” as he has been denied “arrest without probable cause, right to remain silent, the right to counsel, and provide safe guards to the atmosphere and environment of the incommunicado interrogation to give plaintiff choice to give a statement freely.” (Doc. 38 at 4-5) The Defendant clarifies that the Plaintiff is using the § 1983 claim to allege the violation of his 4th Amendment, 5th Amendment, 6th Amendment and 14th Amendment rights. (Doc. 44 at 6) The Defendant argues that the Plaintiff's § 1983 claim must be dismissed because the Plaintiff has not alleged that any particular municipal policy caused or resulted in the violation of the Plaintiff's constitutional rights. (Doc. 44 at 4)

         A local government entity is liable under § 1983 when action pursuant to official municipal policy of some nature causes a constitutional tort. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 681-82 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Oviatt v. Pearce, 954 F.2d 1470, 1473-74 (9th Cir. 1992)). In order to prevail on a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must sufficiently allege that: (1) he was deprived of his constitutional rights by the defendant and its employees acting under color of state law; (2) that the defendants have customs or policies which amount to deliberate indifference to his constitutional rights; and (3) that these policies are the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Lee, 250 F.3d at 681-82.

         In the Complaint, the Plaintiff generally alleges that the Defendant's police officer violated his constitutional rights by arresting the Plaintiff without probable cause and interrogating him. (Doc. 38 at 4-5) At no point in the Complaint does the Plaintiff allege that his injuries arise out of the Defendant's customs or policies. Accordingly, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Motion will be granted as to the Plaintiff's § 1983 claim.

         B. Claim Pursuant to 42 ...

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