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Cardenas v. Collins

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 16, 2017

RICKY CARDENAS, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL COLLINS, LLOYD GARCIA, LENNY QUINTANA, and CHRISTOPHER MEDINA, in their individual capacities, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants Collins and Garcia's Motion for Summary Judgment (Motion for Summary Judgment), filed May 2, 2016, in which Defendants Taos Police Officers Michael Collins and Lloyd Garcia (collectively, TPD Defendants) request dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims against them. (Doc. 34). Plaintiff filed a response on May 27, 2016; TPD Defendants filed a reply on July 1, 2016; and Plaintiff filed a surreply on August 2, 2016. (Docs. 36, 42, and 47). Having considered the Motion for Summary Judgment and the accompanying briefing, the Court (1) grants the Motion for Summary Judgment, in part, and (2) enters an order requiring Plaintiff to show cause why the Court should not dismiss the Fourteenth Amendment claims without prejudice under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

         A. Background

         1. The Complaint for Civil Rights Violations and Damages (Doc. 1-1) (Complaint)

         This is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights lawsuit. The Complaint arises from a 911 medical emergency call which Defendants emergency medical technicians Lenny Quintana and Christopher Medina (collectively, EMT Defendants) responded to as did TPD Defendants. The 911 call ultimately resulted in EMT Defendants transporting Plaintiff by ambulance, against his will, to a hospital where Plaintiff contends his blood was drawn, without his consent, for drug testing. (Doc. 1-1) at ¶¶ 9, 10, 14, 18, and 19. TPD Defendants did not charge Plaintiff with any crimes. Id. at ¶ 21.

         Pertinent to this Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff brings Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment unlawful seizure claims against TPD Defendants in Count I of the Complaint. In Count II, Plaintiff brings Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claims against TPD Defendants. Finally, in Count III, Plaintiff brings Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment unlawful search claims against TPD Defendants for the blood draw at the hospital. TPD Defendants now move for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims against them.

         2. Facts Viewed in the Light Most Favorable to Plaintiff

         At about 3:00 p.m. on September 3, 2012, Plaintiff became upset and began crying while he was working at his restaurant. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 2. Plaintiff “went outside alone, and sat down behind the restaurant to collect” himself. Id. at ¶ 3. He did not lose consciousness and “remained coherent and alert throughout the incident.”[1] Id. at ¶ 4.

         Nonetheless, at about the same time, TPD received an emergency call wherein the caller stated that a 62 year old male was “IN A DIABETIC STATE” and was “GOING IN AND OUT OF CONSCIOUSNESS.” (Doc. 25-1). Defendants did not express any concern to Plaintiff about cardiac issues.[2] (Doc. 36-1) at ¶ 17. Plaintiff is 5'10” tall and, at the time of the incident, weighed about 170 pounds. (Doc. 36-1) at ¶ 13.

         When EMT Defendants and their ambulance arrived at the restaurant, a few people had come out of the restaurant to “check on” Plaintiff and “try to calm” him down. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 6. No one from the restaurant held Plaintiff down nor did Plaintiff touch any of them.[3] Id.

         Upon arriving at the restaurant, EMT Defendants each tightly grabbed Plaintiff's arms in an attempt to assess Plaintiff's vital signs.[4] Id. at ¶ 7; (Doc. 22-1) at ¶ 7; (Doc. 22-2) at ¶ 7. Plaintiff repeatedly asked EMT Defendants to let go, but they refused to do so. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 7. Plaintiff explained to EMT Defendants that he was “upset” about his son, who was in jail and facing a murder charge. Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff further stated that he needed to go back to work. Id.

         EMT Defendants continued to hold Plaintiff and stated that they needed to take Plaintiff to the hospital. Id. at ¶ 9. EMT Defendants finally let go of Plaintiff after he pretended he was going to bite them. Id. While speaking to EMT Defendants, TPD Defendants arrived at about 3:13 p.m. Id. at ¶ 10; (Doc. 42-1) at 2. Plaintiff recognized Defendant Garcia, who Plaintiff personally knew for several years.[5] (Doc. 36-1) at ¶ 33.

         After Defendant Collins arrived at the restaurant, he spoke with EMT Defendants and bystanders about Plaintiff. One person stated that Plaintiff “[t]otally came unglued” while another stated that Plaintiff was “having a breakdown.” (Doc. 42-3) at 2, pgs. 2-3 of transcript.[6]Another person, possibly an EMT Defendant, told Defendant Collins that Plaintiff is “obviously a medical risk” and will hurt himself if he is released. Id. at 4, pg. 12 of transcript. That person noted that when “we got” there ten people were holding Plaintiff. Id. The person told Defendant Collins that Plaintiff did not know where he was and “kind of passed out a little bit” before “swinging.” Id. at 4, pg. 13 of transcript. According to an individual, Plaintiff was yelling and kicked him in the ankle a few times. Id. at 5, pg. 15 of transcript. Individuals also stated to Defendant Collins that Plaintiff was “not in his right mind, ” “just lost it, ” was “freaking out, ” and “spaced out for a while.” Id. at 5, 6, and 8, pgs. 17, 18, and 24 of transcript.

         One of the TPD Defendants, at some point, accused Plaintiff of being on drugs.[7] (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 10. Defendant Collins finally told Plaintiff that he could voluntarily see a doctor, but, if he did not, Defendant Collins would sign a paper authorizing that Plaintiff be kept for up to 72 hours for an evaluation. (Doc. 42-3) at 7, pg. 26 of transcript. Defendant Collins explained to Plaintiff that he felt that Plaintiff was going to hurt himself or others. Id. Plaintiff refused to voluntarily see a doctor saying he would not be a danger to himself or others. Id. at 7, pgs. 27 and 28 of transcript. Plaintiff then threatened to beat Defendant Collins when Defendant Collins told Plaintiff that he can either ride in the ambulance or be handcuffed and ride in the back of the patrol car. Id. at 7, pg. 28 of transcript.

         To get Defendants to leave, Plaintiff allowed EMT Defendants to check his vital signs and take a blood glucose level test, which was normal. Id. at ¶ 11; (Doc. 22-1) at ¶ 15. After EMT Defendants examined Plaintiff, he began to walk back to his restaurant. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 12. As he was walking, one of the TPD Defendants grabbed Plaintiff and stated that Plaintiff “would have to be tested for drugs.” Id. After Plaintiff refused to be tested, one of the TPD Defendants forced Plaintiff into the ambulance[8] and onto a gurney. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 12.

         Plaintiff's sister, Betty Cox, arrived at the scene when Plaintiff was already in the ambulance. (Doc. 25-4) at ¶ 4. Cox climbed into the ambulance through the passenger-side door and saw that Plaintiff was face-down on a gurney. Id. at ¶ 5. When Plaintiff attempted to get up from the gurney, a TPD Defendant “slammed” Plaintiff back onto the gurney with his knee on Plaintiff's back, and Defendant Collins jerked Plaintiff's right arm up to handcuff him.[9] Id. at ¶ 6; (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 12; (Doc. 36-1) at ¶ 30. Cox told Defendants, repeatedly, to leave Plaintiff alone, that Plaintiff did not want to go to the hospital, and that she would care for him, but Defendants ignored her. (Doc. 25-4) at ¶ 7.

         Before the ambulance left the scene, Defendant Collins completed a “Certification of Emergency Mental Health Evaluation for Psychiatric Hospitalization (‘7-day').” (Doc. 34-3). Defendant Collins noted in the Certification that it was unknown whether Plaintiff was medically stable. Id. Defendant Collins further noted that (1) Plaintiff had a “sinkable” episode and when he came to Plaintiff was disoriented and combative; (2) Plaintiff was argumentative and claiming he was under “a lot of pressure;” (3) Plaintiff stated he was “overworked, taxed, and can't slow down;” (4) Plaintiff's extremities were twitching, he was “sweating profusely, ” and he was “verbally challenging;” and (5) Plaintiff admitted to “losing it for a while, ” and refused a voluntary evaluation. Id. Defendant Collins further noted that Plaintiff had poor eye contact; was hostile, agitated, anxious, loud, irritable, and angry; and had impaired insight/judgment. Id.

         EMT Defendants then drove Plaintiff to the hospital against Plaintiff's will. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 13. During the ambulance ride, Plaintiff was handcuffed to the gurney and strapped facedown onto the gurney making it difficult for him to breathe. Id. at ¶¶ 13 and 16. Plaintiff stated to EMT Defendants that he was not going to pay for the ambulance and medical expenses, which he incurred against his will. Id. at ¶ 15. He did not threaten to harm himself or others during the entire incident.[10] Id. at ¶ 14.

         Once at the hospital, Plaintiff was seated in a chair and TPD Defendants handcuffed Plaintiff to a bed. Id. at ¶ 17. Plaintiff admitted to Defendant Collins that he “lost it for a minute.” (Doc. 42-3) at 10, pg. 37 of transcript. According to the Emergency Room report, Plaintiff stated that he was not combative and that Defendants “jumped him.” (Doc. 36-3) at 2. The Emergency Room report, nonetheless, noted a combative and “verbally bellicose” general appearance, an initial impression of “agitation, ” and reference to a “psychotic break.” Id. at 1-2. The Emergency Room report also noted an injury to Plaintiff's right shoulder. Id. at 2. While at the hospital, Plaintiff told Defendant Collins that Rick Trujillo, a bystander, twisted his arm while holding him onto a gurney. (Doc. 42-3) at 13, pg. 46 of transcript. Plaintiff suffered sprains and strains of his right shoulder and upper arm. (Doc. 25-8).

         After one of the TPD Defendants spoke with hospital staff, a nurse drew Plaintiff's blood without his consent. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 18. TPD Defendants, however, did not “request, order, or authorize a blood draw….” (Doc. 34-1) at ¶ 13; (Doc. 34-2) at ¶ 11. Plaintiff was subsequently released from the hospital about an hour later. (Doc. 25-2) at ¶ 19. At that ...


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