United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REMANDING STATE LAW
CLAIMS TO STATE COURT
C. BRACK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on the Complaint (Tort)
filed by Plaintiff Daniel Caouette (Doc. 1-2), the Notice of
Removal by Defendant Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention
Center (Doc. 1), and Defendant Bernalillo County Metropolitan
Detention Center's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 3). The Court
grants the Motion to Dismiss in part, dismisses any federal
claims, and remands Plaintiff Caouette's state law claims
to the State of New Mexico, County of Bernalillo, Second
Judicial District Court.
Daniel Caouette filed his Complaint (Tort) in the Second
Judicial District Court on February 16, 2017. (Doc. 1-2.) The
case was removed from the Second Judicial District Court to
this Court by the Defendant, Bernalillo County Metropolitan
Detention Center (BCMDC) on May 4, 2017. (Doc. 1.) BCMDC then
filed its Motion to Dismiss on May 10, 2017. (Doc. 3.) In
response to the Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff Caouette
initially filed a Motion to Amend Complaint on May 30, 2017.
(Doc. 6.) Caouette then filed a Motion to Amend and Remand on
June 19, 2017. (Doc. 11.)
Complaint asserted jurisdiction in the Second Judicial
District Court under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, NMSA
1978, §§ 41-4-1--30. (Doc. 1-2 at 1, ¶ 2.) His
Complaint alleges “cruel and unusual punishment while
in medical segregation, false imprisonment and the violation
of amendments 5 and 6.” (Doc. 1-2 at 1, ¶ 1.)
Defendant BCMDC timely removed the case to this Court on the
grounds that Caouette's allegations of Fifth and Sixth
Amendment violations constitute federal civil rights claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1 at 1-2.)
sought to dismiss Plaintiff Caouette's Complaint on four
grounds: (1) because BCMDC is not a suable entity; (2)
because there is no respondeat superior liability for federal
civil rights claims; (3) because there is no waiver of
immunity for Plaintiff's claims under the New Mexico Tort
Claims Act; and (4) because Plaintiff failed to give the
required notice under the Tort Claims Act. (Doc. 3 at 3-8.)
Caouette initially responded to the Motion to Dismiss by
filing a Motion to Amend Complaint. (Doc. 6.) In his Motion
to Amend, Caouette stated that he did not intend to sue a
“non person” and asked to substitute the Warden
and Staff at BCMDC as Defendants. (Id.) Caouette
subsequently filed a Motion to Amend and Remand, effectively
withdrawing his request to substitute the Warden and Staff,
contending that he wants to proceed against BCMDC under the
New Mexico Tort Claims Act, and asking that the Court remand
this case to the Second Judicial District Court. (Doc. 11).
Plaintiff Caouette's Federal Claims: 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 is the exclusive vehicle for vindication of
substantive rights under the United States Constitution.
See Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979);
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)
(Section 1983 creates no substantive rights; rather it is the
means through which a plaintiff may seek redress for
deprivations of rights established in the Constitution);
Bolden v. City of Topeka, 441 F.3d 1129 (10th Cir.
2006). 42 U.S.C. § 1983 states:
“Every person who, under
color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or
usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law___”
42 U.S.C. § 1983 (emphasis added).
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must assert acts by government officials acting
under color of law that result in a deprivation of rights
secured by the United States Constitution. 42 U.S.C. §
1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). There
must be a connection between official conduct and violation
of a constitutional right. Conduct that is not connected to a
constitutional violation is not actionable under Section
1983. See Trask v. Franco, 446 F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th
rights action against a public official or entity may not be
based solely on a theory of respondeat superior liability for
the actions of co-workers or subordinates. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). A plaintiff must plead
that each government official, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.
Id. Plaintiff must allege some personal involvement
by an identified official in the alleged constitutional
violation to succeed under § 1983. Fogarty v.
Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008). In a
Section 1983 action, it is particularly important that a
plaintiff's complaint “make clear exactly
who is alleged to have done what to whom,
to provide each individual with fair notice as to the basis
of the claim against him or her.” Robbins v.
Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1249-50 (10th Cir. 2008).
“person” may be held liable under the provisions
of § 1983. BCMDC is a not a “person” within
the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and, therefore, there is
no remedy against BCMDC under § 1983. Will v. Mich.
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 63-64 (1989).
Further, Caouette's Complaint does not make any factual
allegations of conduct by any identified government official
resulting in the alleged constitutional violation.
Fogarty, 523 F.3d at 1162; Robbins, 519
F.3d at 1249-50. The allegations of the Complaint do not
state a federal claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
the Court will grant BCMDC's Motion to Dismiss, in part,
and any federal claims will be dismissed. Ashcroft,
556 U.S. at 676; Will, 491 U.S. at 63-64.
Plaintiff Caouette's State-Law Claims: Plaintiff
Caouette originally filed his Complaint in the Second
Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico. In his
Motion to Amend and Remand, he contends that he is proceeding
under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. (Doc. 11.) Caouette
asks that the case be remanded to the Second Judicial
District Court to allow his state-law claims to proceed.
(Doc. 11 at 5.) Caouette's request to remand is untimely
under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). However, the Court will
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Caouette's state-law claims and will remand the case to
the Second Judicial District Court.
the supplemental jurisdiction granted by 28 U.S.C. §
1367, a federal court has subject-matter jurisdiction over
certain state-law claims. A district court's decision
whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction after
dismissing all claims over which it has original jurisdiction
is discretionary. See § 1367(c). Under §
1367(c), the district courts may decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over a claim if the district court
has dismissed all claims over ...