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Raymond v. County of Kauai

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 26, 2017

CAMERON RAYMOND, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF KAUAI; KAUAI POLICE DEPARTMENT; DARRYL D. PERRY; ISAIAH SARSONA; JERALD KIM; SANDY WAKUMOTO; WILCOX MEMORIAL HOSPITAL; JOHN DOES 1-10; JANE DOES 1-10; DOE CORPORATIONS 1-10; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; DOE UNINCORPORATED ORGANIZATIONS 1-10; AND DOE GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES 1-10, Defendants.

         ORDER (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT COUNTY OF KAUAI'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS OR ALTERNATIVELY SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO WHICH DEFENDANTS PERRY, SARSONA, KIM, AND WAKUMOTO HAVE FILED A JOINDER AND (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT WILCOX MEMORIAL HOSPITAL'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          ALAN C. KAY SR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant County of Kauai's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or Alternatively Summary Judgment, ECF No. 66, [1] to which Defendants Darryl D. Perry, Isaiah Sarsona, Jerald Kim, and Sandy Wakumoto have filed a Joinder, ECF No. 70, as follows:

(1) As to Defendants Perry, Sarsona, Kim, and Wakumoto, the Court GRANTS their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to Plaintiff's official capacity claims. These claims are construed against the County of Kauai and DISMISSED against the officers in their official capacity WITH PREJUDICE.
(2) As to Defendant County of Kauai and the individual capacity claims against Defendant Sarsona, [2] the Court GRANTS the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on Counts 2-4 and 7. Counts 2-4 are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, and Count 7 is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Court DENIES the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on Counts 1, 5, and 8-10.[3] The Court further DENIES the Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts 1, 5, 6, and 8-10.
(3) As to the individual capacity claims against Defendants Perry, Kim, and Wakumoto, the Court GRANTS the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on Counts 1-5 and 7-10. Counts 1-5 and 8-10 are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, and Count 7 is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Court further DENIES the Motion for Summary Judgment on Count 6.[4]
(4) As to the Doe Defendants, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. These claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         The Court also GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant Wilcox Memorial Hospital's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 71. The Court GRANTS summary judgment on Counts 1-7, and 10. The Court DENIES summary judgment on Counts 8 and 9.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 5, 2015, Plaintiff Cameron Raymond (“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Raymond”) filed a Complaint against Defendants County of Kauai (the “County”); Darryl D. Perry (“Chief Perry”), in his individual and official capacity; Isaiah Sarsona (“Officer Sarsona”), in his individual and official capacity; Jerald Kim (“Officer Kim”), in his individual and official capacity; Sandy Wakumoto (“Officer Wakumoto”), in his individual and official capacity (together with Defendants Perry, Sarsona, Kim, and Wakumoto, the “individual officers, ” and collectively with the County, “the County Defendants”); Wilcox Memorial Hospital (“WMH”); Thomas Hemmingway, in his individual and official capacity; and Dallen Jones, in his individual and official capacity. Complaint ¶¶ 4-11. On October 6, 2015, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Defendants Thomas Hemmingway and Dallen Jones. ECF No. 7.

         The Complaint asserts ten counts. Counts 1 through 4, arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, state claims of excessive use of force; abuse of authority and failure to supervise; deliberate indifference; and “pattern of conduct.” Complaint ¶¶ 111-28. Counts 5 through 10 assert claims of negligence; false imprisonment; medical negligence; assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”); and negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”). Id. ¶¶ 129-45.

         Plaintiff had initially retained and was represented by counsel in this action. However, on April 26, 2016, Plaintiff's counsel filed a Motion for Leave of Court to Withdraw as Attorney for Plaintiff. ECF No. 50. The Magistrate Judge granted the Motion to Withdraw on May 20, 2016 and Plaintiff proceeded pro se. ECF No. 62.

         On June 14, 2016, the County filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or Alternatively for Summary Judgment (“County Motion”), along with a Concise Statement of Facts in Support of that Motion (“County CSF”). ECF Nos. 66, 67. The individual officers filed a Joinder to the County's Motion, seeking the same relief sought by the County. ECF No. 70. On June 15, 2016, WMH filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (“WMH Motion”) along with a Concise Statement of Facts in Support of their Motion (“WMH CSF”). ECF Nos. 71, 72.

         After Plaintiff's two unsuccessful attempts to submit his opposition to Defendants' motions pro se (ECF Nos. 93, 97), and Plaintiff's request for the Court to appoint an attorney to represent him, the Court directed Plaintiff to file a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 101. On December 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed his application to proceed in forma pauperis, which the Magistrate Judge granted on December 20, 2016. ECF Nos. 103, 105. On January 18, 2017, the Court appointed pro bono counsel for the limited purpose of opposing Defendants' Motions. ECF No. 108.

         On May 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed oppositions to Defendants' motions (“Pl. County Opp.” and “Pl. WMH Opp.”), along with concise statements of facts in support of his oppositions (“Pl. County Opp. CSF” and “Pl. WMH Opp. CSF”), which were subsequently re-filed to meet the Local Rules' requirements on May 12, 2017. ECF Nos. 127-130. On May 16, 2017, the County and WMH filed replies to Plaintiff's oppositions. ECF Nos. 132, 133. The Court held a hearing on Defendants' motions on Tuesday, May, 30, 2017.

         At the Court's hearing on Defendants' Motions, the Court noted that the Kauai Police Department is not a proper party in this case because the Kauai Police Department is not an independent legal entity. See Fisher v. Kealoha, 869 F.Supp.2d 1203, 1214 (D. Haw. 2012) (Kay, J.); Dowkin v. Honolulu Police Dep't, CIV. 10-00087 SOM/LEK, 2010 WL 4961135, at *3 (D. Haw. Nov. 30, 2010). The Court also noted the unclear language in Plaintiff's Complaint regarding whether his claims were alleged against the County of Kauai, the Kauai Police Department, or both. See Complaint ¶ 4. At the hearing, counsel for the parties stipulated that Plaintiff's alleged claims are against the County of Kauai, that attorneys for the County of Kauai, Kauai Police Department represent the County of Kauai, and that the County of Kauai brought the current Motion (ECF No. 66). The stipulation was subject to attorneys for Plaintiff noting that they were only appointed to represent Plaintiff for the current motions.

         On May 31, 2017, the Court entered a minute order directing the parties to file a stipulation as stated above and directing Plaintiff and counsel for all parties to sign the stipulation. ECF No. 134. On June 16, 2017, the parties filed the stipulation with the Court, which was signed by counsel and Plaintiff and approved by the Court. ECF No. 163. The Court has altered the caption of the case accordingly.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On June 5, 2013, Officer Kim and Officer Sarsona visited Plaintiff's property. Complaint ¶¶ 28-29. They were responding to a call from Plaintiff's ex-wife, April Raymond, who wanted them to conduct a welfare check on her and Plaintiff's children, who were staying at Plaintiff's home. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff and his ex-wife have joint custody of their children. Id. ¶ 23.

         The officers entered Plaintiff's property without a warrant. Id. ¶ 30. They came up to his house window. Id. ¶ 31. Through the window, the officers asked Plaintiff if he would come outside to talk to them. Id. ¶ 32. Plaintiff, then, went outside and shook Officer Kim's hand. Id. ¶ 35. Officer Kim then grabbed Plaintiff's arm and said, “Come walk with me. I want to talk to you.” Id. ¶ 36. They walked approximately thirty yards toward fruit trees outside Plaintiff's house. Id. ¶ 37. Officer Kim then said, “What's going on?” Id. ¶ 38. Plaintiff responded that nothing was going on and that he had not done anything wrong. Id. ¶ 39. Officer Kim then walked Plaintiff back toward his house, where Plaintiff asked to speak to Officer Sarsona. Id. ¶¶ 40-41.

         Officer Sarsona then said, “Let's step off the property where we can have a little privacy and talk.” Id. ¶ 42. Officer Sarsona and Plaintiff proceeded to walk off the property. Id. ¶ 43. When Plaintiff stepped off his property, Officer Sarsona asked Plaintiff to turn around. Id. ¶ 44. Officer Sarsona then handcuffed Plaintiff's hands, put ankle shackles on him, and bound his handcuffs to the ankle shackles with a chain. Id. ¶ 45. Plaintiff's children, who were seven and eight years old at the time, said that they felt safe with their father. Id. ¶ 49.

         Plaintiff was then put in the back of the officers' police vehicle and transported to WMH. Id. ¶¶ 47, 50. When Plaintiff arrived at WMH, he was put on a hospital bed and waited for at least a couple hours. Id. ¶¶ 51-52, 56. Plaintiff complained to Officer Sarsona that his handcuffs were too tight. Id. ¶ 53. Officer Sarsona did not loosen the handcuffs until Plaintiff asked three times and Plaintiff's hands had turned purple. Id. ¶ 54.

         At WMH, a doctor and social worker evaluated Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 61-64. A nurse came in and wanted to take Plaintiff's blood to perform a drug test. Id. ¶ 65. Although Plaintiff refused to have his blood taken, the nurse took Plaintiff's blood against his will. Id. ¶ 66. During this interaction, Plaintiff was not violent or resistant. Id. ¶ 69. The results for the drug test came back negative. Id. ¶ 71.

         A court order was issued authorizing Plaintiff's emergency examination and treatment at Mahelona Hospital. County CSF, Ex. 8. Shortly thereafter, another employee from WMH told Plaintiff that WMH wanted to transport him to Mahelona to be evaluated and to give him some shots before they transported him. Complaint ¶¶ 72-73. Against Plaintiff's will, Officer Sarsona and several hospital employees put their hands on Plaintiff and held him down, even though he was chained and handcuffed. Id. ¶ 77. They proceeded to inject three separate shots into him, including 100mg of the antipsychotic drug haloperidol decanoate (“Haldol”). Id. ¶¶ 77-78. Officer Sarsona remained with Plaintiff during his entire time at WMH. Id. ¶ 65.

         Plaintiff was then transported to Mahelona Hospital in a police vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 81, 88. At Mahelona, a doctor examined Plaintiff, and shortly thereafter Plaintiff was released. Id. ¶¶ 91-92. Plaintiff alleges that he felt sick from the Haldol and believes he was raped while he was drugged. Id. ¶¶ 94-95. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the Haldol and related complications, he had suicidal thoughts and was unable to care for his children, job, or himself. Id. ¶¶ 97- 101. As a result, Plaintiff lost his property and non-profit business. Id. ¶ 102.

         STANDARD

         I. Judgment on the Pleadings

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Judgment on the pleadings is properly granted “when, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true, there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012) (citation and original alteration omitted).

         Analysis under Rule 12(c) is substantially identical to analysis under Rule 12(b)(6) because, under both rules, a court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint, taken as true, entitle the plaintiff to a legal remedy. Id. The Court must therefore assess whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Harris v. Cty. of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2012) (Iqbal applies to Rule 12(c) motions because Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c) motions are functionally equivalent).

         Judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is limited to material included in the pleadings, unless the Court elects to convert the motion into one for summary judgment. Yakima Valley Mem'l Hosp. v. Dep't of Health, 654 F.3d 919, 925 n.6 (9th Cir. 2011). Rule 12(d) gives the Court “discretion to accept and consider extrinsic materials offered in connection with these motions, and to convert the motion to one for summary judgment when a party has notice that the district court may look beyond the pleadings.” Hamilton Materials, Inc. v. Dow Chem. Corp., 494 F.3d 1203, 1207 (9th Cir. 2007).

         The Court must accept as true the facts as pled by the non-movant, and will construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. U.S. ex rel. Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1053 (9th Cir. 2011); Doyle v. Raley's Inc., 158 F.3d 1012, 1014 (9th Cir. 1998). Additionally, mere conclusory statements in a complaint or “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” are not sufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, the Court discounts conclusory statements, which are not entitled to a presumption of truth, before determining whether a claim is plausible. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. However, “dismissal with prejudice and without leave to amend is not appropriate unless it is clear on de novo review that the complaint could not be saved by amendment.” Harris v. Cty. of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted).

         II. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is proper where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Rule 56(a) mandates summary judgment “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to the party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Broussard v. Univ. of Cal. at Berkeley, 192 F.3d 1252, 1258 (9th Cir. 1999).

         “A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery responses that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323); see also Jespersen v. Harrah's Operating Co., 392 F.3d 1076, 1079 (9th Cir. 2004). “When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56 [(a)] its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts [and] come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (stating that a party cannot “rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading” in opposing summary judgment).

         “An issue is ‘genuine' only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable fact finder could find for the nonmoving party, and a dispute is ‘material' only if it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” In re Barboza, 545 F.3d 702, 707 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). When considering the evidence on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all reasonable inferences on behalf of the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587; see also Posey v. Lake Pend Oreille Sch. Dist. No. 84, 546 F.3d 1121, 1126 (9th Cir. 2008) (stating that “the evidence of [the nonmovant] is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. The County Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or Alternatively Summary Judgment

         The County Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings or alternatively summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. They argue that claims against the individual officers, the KPD, and Doe Defendants are either redundant or improper and should be dismissed. In addition, the County Defendants initially seek judgment on the pleadings on all of Plaintiff's claims, except for false imprisonment which they expressly seek summary judgment.[5] The Court discusses each of these claims in turn.

         A. Claims Against Individual Officers, Kauai Police Department, and Doe Defendants

         The County Defendants argue that the individual officers, the KPD, and Doe Defendants are either redundant or improper and should be dismissed. In regard to the individual officers, the County Defendants argue that claims against individual officers in their official capacity are duplicative of claims against the KPD. Plaintiff brings claims against the individual officers in both their individual and official capacity. See Complaint ¶¶ 6-9. Personal capacity suits seek to impose personal liability upon a government official for actions he takes under color of state law. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991). Official capacity suits, on the other hand, “generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.” Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n. 55 (1978). Therefore, courts should treat such suits as suits against the governmental entity. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985); see Carnell v. Grimm, 872 F.Supp. 746, 752 (D. Haw. 1994) (dismissing claims against officials in their official capacity as duplicative where municipality had also been sued). Accordingly, the Court dismisses the claims against the individual officers' in their official capacity with prejudice.

         The County Defendants also argue that the Court should dismiss all claims against the KPD as an entity distinct from the County. See Fisher, 869 F.Supp.2d at 1214 (holding that the Honolulu Police Department is not an independent legal entity distinct from the City and County of Honolulu and dismissing claims against the Department). At the Court's hearing on Defendants' Motions, the Court noted that the Kauai Police Department is not a proper party in this case because the Kauai Police Department is not an independent legal entity. See id.; Dowkin v. Honolulu Police Dep't, CIV. 10-00087 SOM/LE, 2010 WL 4961135, at *3 (D. Haw. Nov. 30, 2010). The Court also noted the unclear language in Plaintiff's Complaint regarding whether his claims were alleged against the County of Kauai, the Kauai Police Department, or both. See Complaint ¶ 4.

         At the hearing, the parties stipulated, inter alia, that Plaintiff's alleged claims are against the County and not the KPD as an independent legal entity. On June 16, 2017, the parties filed a stipulation with the Court, which was signed by counsel and Plaintiff, stating to that effect, and approved by the Court. ECF No. 163. Therefore, the Court construes the claims against the KPD as claims against the County of Kauai. Hoe v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, No. 05-00602 DAE LEK, 2007 WL 1118288, at *5 (D. Haw. Apr. 12, 2007) (“This Court treats claims against municipalities, such as the City and County of Honolulu, and their respective police departments as claims against the municipalities.”).

         Lastly, the County Defendants argue that the Doe Defendants are improper. Plaintiff lists several Doe entities in his Complaint and states that “[he] has made good faith and diligent efforts to identify said Defendants, including interviewing individuals with knowledge of the claims herein. At such time as their true names and identities become known . . . [he] will amend this Complaint accordingly.” Complaint ¶ 12. Generally, courts disfavor the use of Doe defendants. Wakefield v. Thompson, 177 F.3d 1160, 1163 (9th Cir. 1999). However, in situations where the identity of alleged defendants will not be known prior to the filing of a complaint, “the plaintiff should be given an opportunity through discovery to identify the unknown defendants, unless it is clear that discovery would not uncover the identities, or that the complaint would be dismissed on other grounds.” Gillespie v. Civiletti, 629 F.2d 637, 642 (9th Cir. 1980).

         In the present case, the Magistrate Judge set April 15, 2016 as the deadline to amend or add parties and September 16, 2016 as the discovery deadline. ECF No. 33 ¶¶ 5, 12. Plaintiff has failed to timely amend his complaint to identify these defendants and the discovery deadline has passed. Plaintiff also has not sought leave to amend his complaint or requested any deadline extensions. Accordingly, the Court grants the County Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and dismisses Plaintiff's claims against the Doe Defendants without prejudice.

         B. § 1983 Claims (Counts 1-4)

         Section 1983 provides relief against “[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . causes . . . any citizen of the United States . . . the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Parties can seek relief under § 1983 against persons acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Persons” covers, “state and local officials sued in their individual capacities, private individuals and entities which acted under color of state law, and local governmental entities.” Vance v. Cty. of Santa Clara, 928 F.Supp. 993, 995-96 (N.D. Cal. 1996).

         For an individual capacity suit under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege personal participation in the alleged constitutional violation on the part of the individual to subject that person to individual liability. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). For an official capacity suit, municipalities and their agents must cause the constitutional violation through a policy or custom. Monell, 436 U.S. at 694.

         i. Whether the Alleged § 1983 Claims are Cognizable Standalone Claims

         Plaintiff alleges four separate counts under § 1983: excessive use of force (Count 1); abuse of authority and failure to supervise (Count 2); deliberate indifference (Count 3); and pattern of conduct (Count 4).[6] The County Defendants argue that the claims alleged in Counts 2, 3, and 4 are not cognizable standalone claims but rather interconnected elements necessary to demonstrate municipal liability for individual officers' use of excessive force in violation of an individual's constitutional rights. Plaintiff argues that the Complaint alleges four separate and distinct causes of action under § 1983.

         The Court construes the Complaint as alleging § 1983 claims based on excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment (Count 1), search and seizure under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment (Count 2), due process under the Fourteenth Amendment (Count 2), and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment (Count 2). Complaint ¶¶ 111-12, 114A-C. In addition, Plaintiff alleges municipal liability for these constitutional violations (Counts 2, 3, and 4). Abuse of authority, failure to supervise, deliberate indifference, and pattern of conduct are not separate § 1983 claims. Instead, they could potentially be a theory for a municipal liability claim under § 1983, or as discussed herein, they are components of a municipal liability claim under § 1983. For the § 1983 claims, the County Defendants only move for judgment on the pleadings for the excessive force claim and municipal liability related to that claim. Accordingly, the Court only addresses these issues.[7]

         ii. Whether Plaintiff Alleged a Plausible § 1983 Claim Based on Excessive Force Against the Officers in their Individual Capacity

         A claim of excessive force is analyzed under the framework set forth by the Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). That analysis requires balancing the “nature and quality of the intrusion” on a person's liberty with the “countervailing governmental interests at stake” to determine whether the use of force was objectively reasonable under the circumstances. Id. at 396. Determining whether a police officer's use of force was reasonable or excessive therefore “requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case” and a “careful balancing” of an individual's liberty with the government's interest in the application of force. Id. ...


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