United States District Court, D. New Mexico
DAVID N. STANLEY, Plaintiff,
DONALD GALLEGOS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS MOOT
GREGORY B. WORMUTH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment (doc. 147) and related briefing
(docs. 141, 151, 158, 163). In the Motion, Plaintiff asks the
Court to declare, as a matter of law, “that the road on
which Defendant Donald Gallegos removed a gate, fence, lock,
and other materials” is private. See doc. 147
at 1. The removal of the gate from this road (hereinafter
“Red Hill Road”) on two separate occasions
spurred Plaintiff to bring the present litigation.
partial summary judgment motion is intertwined with his
§ 1983 claims for damages against Defendant Gallegos for
violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights,
which the Court dismissed on the basis of qualified immunity
on March 8, 2018. Doc. 209. For the reasons
explained below, the Court will DENY Plaintiff's Motion
as moot in light of the dismissal of his damages claims
against Defendant Gallegos.
Court provided a detailed accounting of the background facts
of this case in its Memorandum Opinion and Order filed on
March 8, 2018. See doc. 209 at 2-6. The Court thus
assumes the reader's knowledge of the facts recounted
therein, which are incorporated by reference in this Order.
the Court emphasizes the following facts immediately
pertinent to the present ruling. On August 24, 2011,
Defendant Gallegos used bolt cutters to remove a locked chain
securing a gate that Plaintiff had placed across Red Hill
Road to block public access to the road as it traversed his
property. Doc. 125 at 1-2; see also doc. 125-1 at
10-12, Gallegos Dep. 72:12-73:24; 82:1-86:18. A group of
several other individuals, including officers from the Mora
and Colfax County Sheriff's Departments and members of
the public, were involved in this removal. Doc. 125
at 1-2. In addition to cutting the lock, Defendant Gallegos
and other members of the party removed a barbed-wire fence
and T-posts set up at the cattle crossing and left these
items resting against a tree. Doc. 21 at 3; doc.
160-1 at 18. Defendant Gallegos took these actions based on
his belief that Red Hill Road was public pursuant to 43
U.S.C. § 932. See doc. 158 at 5, 9;
doc. 158-2 at 7-9.
restored the locked gate across the road, but a Colfax County
Sheriff's Deputy removed the locked chain again on
September 10, 2011. Doc. 21 at 3-4. In his Amended Complaint,
Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Gallegos directed the second
the second removal of the gate, Plaintiff filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendant
Gallegos's actions violated the Constitution on a number
of grounds. See doc. 21 at 5-7. Plaintiff also
alleged violations of the New Mexico Constitution on the same
grounds and brought state law statutory trespass claims
against various Defendants.
seeks partial summary judgment in his favor determining that
Red Hill Road is private. See generally doc. 147.
Importantly, however, Plaintiff does not seek a declaratory
judgment from this Court that the road is private. See
doc. 207, Joinder Hr'g Tr. at 42:6-44:21, 62:7-18.
Rather, Plaintiff's purpose in bringing the instant
Motion is to show that “Defendant Gallegos was
necessarily required to provide [Plaintiff] with due process
prior to both coming onto [Plaintiff's] property,
allowing and inviting others to do the same, and for
interfering with [Plaintiff's] property.” Doc. 147
at 2; see also Id. at 7 nn. 1-2.
counsel expounded on this argument regarding the scope and
purpose of Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment during the December 8, 2017 hearing regarding the
potential joinder of the Colfax and/or Mora County Boards of
County Commissioners. See doc. 207. During that
hearing, Plaintiff's counsel explained that Plaintiff
wants the Court to find that the road is private “for
purposes of this case as a matter, essentially, of
damages.” See id., Joinder Hr'g Tr. at
62:7-18. More to the point, Plaintiff filed the instant
Motion (1) because Plaintiff would be entitled to greater
damages on his Fourteenth Amendment claim if the road were
private, and (2) because Plaintiff would more readily prevail
at trial on his Fourth Amendment claim alleging that
Defendant Gallegos conducted an unreasonable search if the
Court found, for purposes of this case, that Defendant
Gallegos engaged in a warrantless search of private property.
See Id. at 43:9-50:5. Significantly, however,
Plaintiff's counsel repeatedly emphasized that there is
no declaratory judgment being sought in this case, and the
parties agree that the determination of whether Red Hill Road
is public or private should be left to the state court
currently presiding over Plaintiff's quiet title action.
Id. at 25:10-15, 42:6-44:21, 62:7-18.
March 8, 2018 Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court
dismissed all of Plaintiff's § 1983 claims for
damages against Defendant Gallegos in both his official and
individual capacities, on the basis that all such claims were
barred by either Eleventh Amendment or qualified immunity.
See doc. 209 at 13-20; 25-63. While Plaintiff's
federal claim for injunctive relief against Defendant
Gallegos remains intact, Plaintiff's instant Motion has
no bearing on that claim. Plaintiff sought injunctive relief
solely to prevent Defendant Gallegos from taking similar
actions in the future without first affording Plaintiff due
process of law. See doc. 207, Joinder Hr'g Tr.
at 43:16-47:21. Therefore, as presented by Plaintiff, the
Motion is not relevant to the remaining claims.
Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (doc.
147) is now moot and is DENIED as such.