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San Francisco Partner Gregg Thornton Secures Judgment For Burlingame In Civil Rights Lawsuit

The plaintiff was arrested by Burlingame Police personnel and charged with several stalking crimes. When the District Attorney elected to drop the criminal charges against the plaintiff, the plaintiff sued in District Court, alleging that the police improperly investigated the plaintiff, that the plaintiff was wrongfully arrested, that the police filed false police reports and that the police provided false testimony at a grand jury hearing. Ultimately, the plaintiff's claims against the police personnel included false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. The plaintiff's claims against the Police Department took the form of allegedly failing to properly train and supervise, as well as negligently failing to investigate the plaintiff's complaints about the officers.

After some motion practice, the plaintiff's second amended complaint was limited to a single cause of action against the police personnel and the Police Department for malicious prosecution. In response, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6). Specifically, the defendants argued that the police personnel are immune from any state law cause of action for malicious prosecution, pursuant to California Government Code section 821.6. Similarly, the Police Department is immune to such a claim under California Government Code section 815.2(b). Furthermore, the defendants argued that the plaintiff was not able to articulate a federal law claim for malicious prosecution, under 42 USC section 1983, for two reasons. First, the plaintiff could not establish that the defendants prosecuted the plaintiff with malice, and without probable cause, for the purpose of denying the plaintiff equal protection or another specific constitutional right. Second, the plaintiff could not state a claim for Monell liability.

The District Court agreed with all of the defendants' arguments and granted the motion to dismiss the second amended complaint, without leave to amend. Judgment has been entered in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiff.