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Rajamantri v. City and County of Honolulu

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 29, 2019





         This action arises out of an incident on November 3, 2016, during which Honolulu Police Department (“HPD”) plain-clothed officers allegedly questioned Plaintiff Senal Rajamantri (“Plaintiff”) about his identity and residence then tackled and restrained him, causing his arm to break. Plaintiff asserts federal constitutional and Hawai‘i state law claims against Defendant City and County of Honolulu (“Defendant”). Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I) and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision (Count VII) claims.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the Motion. Count I is dismissed in part without prejudice and dismissed in part with prejudice. Count VII is dismissed without prejudice.


         A. Factual History

         On November 3, 2016, Plaintiff purchased dinner at the restaurant Proof Public House. Compl. at ¶ 8. A server informed Plaintiff that due to a prior complaint he had made about the service, he was no longer allowed at the restaurant. Id. Plaintiff then left the restaurant and banged on a random shop window, cracking it. Id. at ¶ 9. Two plain-clothed HPD officers who saw the incident approached Plaintiff and asked him about his identity and residence. Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff responded and asked the officers if they intended to arrest him. Id. at ¶ 11. The officers informed Plaintiff that they were merely questioning him and instructed him to sit on the ground. Id. At the officers' direction, Plaintiff sat with his hands in the air as he answered questions. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiff was never read Miranda warnings. Id.

         The officers subsequently called HPD for assistance and two additional plain-clothed officers arrived at the scene. Id. at ¶ 13. According to Plaintiff, without provocation, all officers tackled him, pinned him to the ground, and held him down on the ground. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff claims that he did not resist. Id. During the incident, one of the officers allegedly pulled Plaintiff's arms behind him and twisted them together, causing Plaintiff's bones to break and protrude from his flesh. Id. One of the officers handcuffed Plaintiff while another officer told him “not to be a pussy” when he complained of extreme pain. Id. at ¶ 16. Paramedics were eventually called to the scene. Id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff was transported by HPD cruiser to Queen's Medical Center where he was treated for multiple injuries. Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiff is not aware of any criminal charges brought against him related to the November 3, 2016 incident. Id. at ¶ 20.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff initiated this action on July 9, 2018. The Complaint asserts the following claims: (1) violations of § 1983 (Count I); (2) assault and battery (Count II); (3) gross negligence (Count III); (4) negligence (Count IV); (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count V); (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count VI); (7) negligent hiring, retention, and supervision (Count VII); and (8) vicarious liability - respondeat superior (Count VIII). Plaintiff prays for general, special, and punitive damages; reimbursement for his costs and reasonable attorneys' fees; and any additional relief deemed appropriate. Id. at 15.

         On August 1, 2018, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss Complaint Filed on July 9, 2018. Doc. No. 9.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of a complaint that fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed. R.Civ. P. 12(b)(6). On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “‘the court accepts the facts alleged in the complaint as true,' and ‘[d]ismissal can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged.'” UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners LLC, 718 F.3d 1006, 1014 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988)) (alteration in original). However, conclusory allegations of law, unwarranted deductions of fact, and unreasonable inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Nat'l Ass'n for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis v. Cal. Bd. of Psychology, 228 F.3d 1043, 1049 (9th Cir. 2000). Furthermore, the court need not accept as true allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice. Sprewell, 266 F.3d at 988.

         “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.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility exists “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The tenet that the court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint does not apply to legal conclusions. Id. As such, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “[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. at 679 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)) (some alterations in original). If dismissal is ordered, the plaintiff should be granted leave to amend unless it is clear that the claims could not be saved by amendment. Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 760 (9th Cir. 2007).


         Defendant seeks dismissal of Counts I and VII. With respect to Count I, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for municipal liability and that his excessive force claim is limited to the Fourth Amendment. As for Count VII, Defendant contends that Plaintiff has not pled facts establishing that it “knew of a necessity and opportunity to control the officers involved in the subject incident, ” or facts identifying a deficiency with its supervision, retention, or hiring practices. Mem. in Supp. of Mot. at 8.

         A. Section 1983 Claims (Count I)

         Plaintiff alleges that the officers[1] involved in the subject incident violated his Constitutional rights while acting in their official capacities. Compl. at ΒΆ 24. In particular, Plaintiff claims that the officers' use of excessive force ...

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