United States District Court, D. New Mexico
DAVID N. STANLEY, Plaintiff,
DONALD GALLEGOS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
GREGORY B. WORMUTH MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment Regarding Claims for Injunctive Relief and
Memorandum of Law Regarding Supplemental Jurisdiction over
State Law Claims. Doc. 216. Having reviewed the
Motion and the attendant briefing (docs. 218, 219, 220,
221), the Court will GRANT the Motion IN PART and DENY
it IN PART, for the reasons that follow.
dispute giving rise to this litigation involves a locked gate
that Plaintiff David Stanley maintained across a road
(“Red Hill Road”) traversing his private ranch
(“Stanley Ranch”) located in Colfax and Mora
Counties, New Mexico. The parties to this matter have long
disputed whether Red Hill Road where it crosses Stanley Ranch
is public or private, which has led to significant conflict.
In particular, on two separate occasions, the gate was
forcibly unlocked based on the unilateral determination by
Defendant Donald Gallegos, District Attorney for the Eighth
Judicial District of New Mexico, that Red Hill Road was
public. See doc. 21 at 1-4.
Court provided an extensive factual background of this
litigation in its March 8, 2018 Memorandum Opinion and Order.
See doc. 209 at 2-5. Therefore, the Court will
provide only a background of the pertinent procedural history
here. Those additional facts that are material to the
resolution of the present Motion are contained in the
“Undisputed Facts” section below. See
infra pp. 7-12.
filed this suit against several Defendants, including the
sole remaining Defendants Gallegos and Ed Olona, on December
19, 2011. Doc. 1. He filed his First Amended
Complaint-the operative Complaint in this action-on April 24,
2012. Doc. 21. Plaintiff's First Amended
Complaint states a number of federal claims arising under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, including claims for damages and a claim
for injunctive relief. See Id. at 5-7, 11. In
addition, the First Amended Complaint raises several claims
arising under state law, including allegations that
Defendants violated the state constitution and committed
state law trespass. See Id. at 7-9. Defendant Olona
filed a state law counterclaim against Plaintiff for
malicious abuse of process on February 17, 2012, and
reasserted the same counterclaim in response to
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint on May 17, 2012.
Docs. 12, 33.
Court granted Defendant Olona summary judgment on all of
Plaintiff's § 1983 and state constitutional claims
on August 25, 2015. Doc. 166. In addition, the Court
dismissed Plaintiff's remaining state law statutory
trespass claim against Defendant Olona on March 13, 2018,
leaving only Defendant Olona's counterclaim for malicious
abuse of process to tether him to this litigation. Doc.
March 8, 2018 Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court found
that Defendant Gallegos violated Plaintiff's
constitutional rights to due process and against unreasonable
seizures. See doc. 209 at 28-47. Specifically, the
Court found that Defendant Gallegos failed to provide the
requisite notice and pre-deprivation hearing to Plaintiff
prior to interfering with Plaintiff's property interest
in Red Hill Road. See Id. Nevertheless, the Court
found that Defendant Gallegos was entitled to Eleventh
Amendment immunity on all of Plaintiff's federal claims
for damages against him in his official capacity, and was
further entitled to qualified immunity on all of
Plaintiff's individual-capacity § 1983 claims for
damages. See Id. at 9-20, 48-63. Thus, the Court
dismissed all federal claims for damages against Defendant
Gallegos. However, the federal injunctive relief claim
against Defendant Gallegos remained, because Defendant
Gallegos's summary judgment arguments were premised on
assertions of immunity that do not apply to injunctive relief
claims. See Id. at 64-65.
addition to the federal injunctive relief claim, the
remaining live claims in this case include (1)
Plaintiff's Second Claim for Relief against Defendant
Gallegos, alleging violations of the New Mexico Constitution
(these claims arise under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act);
(2) Plaintiff's Third and Fourth Claims for Relief
against Defendant Gallegos, alleging state law
trespass; and (3) Defendant Olona's state-law
counterclaim for malicious abuse of process.
Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief was the only
remaining federal claim in the case, the Court held a
telephonic status conference on April 17, 2018, to discern
the parties' positions regarding the propriety of the
Court maintaining jurisdiction over the state law claims,
particularly in light of the pending quiet title action and
its potential impact on the proper resolution of those
claims. See doc. 213. Based on the parties'
representations during that telephonic status conference, the
Court set deadlines for briefing the present Motion for
Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's injunctive relief claim,
and further ordered the parties to submit arguments regarding
whether the Court should retain supplemental jurisdiction
over the remaining state law claims in this matter once the
injunctive relief claim is resolved. See doc. 214.
Those issues are now fully briefed and ready for ruling.
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), this Court must
“grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
judgment is proper only if a reasonable trier of fact could
not return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant
bears the initial burden of “show[ing] that there is an
absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case.” Bacchus Indus., Inc. v. Arvin Indus.,
Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991) (citing
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). Once the movant meets
this burden, Rule 56(e) requires the non-moving party to
designate specific facts showing that “there are . . .
genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by
a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in
favor of either party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324. “An issue is ‘genuine'
if there is sufficient evidence on each side so that a
rational trier of fact could resolve the issue either way. An
issue of fact is ‘material' if under the
substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of
the claim.” Thom v. Bristol Myers Squibb Co.,
353 F.3d 848, 851 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal citation
omitted). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or
is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . .
citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .
.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). All material facts set
forth in the motion and response which are not specifically
controverted are deemed undisputed. D.N.M.LR-Civ. 56.1(b).
court must adhere to three principles when evaluating a
motion for summary judgment. First, the court's role is
not to weigh the evidence, but to assess the threshold issue
whether a genuine issue exists as to material facts requiring
a trial. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at
249. Second, the court must resolve all reasonable inferences
and doubts in favor of the non-moving party, and construe all
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
See Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 551-54 (1999).
Third, the court cannot decide any issues of credibility.
See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255. However, if the
non-moving party's story “is blatantly contradicted
by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a
court should not adopt that version of the facts for the
purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.”
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
Ultimately, “to survive the . . . motion, [the
nonmovant] need only present evidence from which a jury might
return a verdict in his favor.” Liberty Lobby,
477 U.S. at 257.
instant Motion, Plaintiff provided a Statement of Uncontested
Material Facts containing thirty separate facts gleaned from
the Court's March 8, 2018 Memorandum Opinion and Order,
designated by letters a. through dd. See doc. 216 at
2-8. Plaintiff further asserted twenty-three
“Additional undisputed material facts” based on
the record, designated by letters ee. through aaa.
Id. at 8-13.
Local Rules regarding Summary Judgment procedures require
that a nonmoving party's response to a Motion for Summary
. . . a concise statement of the material facts cited by the
movant as to which the non-movant contends a genuine issue
does exist. Each fact in dispute must be numbered, must refer
with particularity to those portions of the record upon which
the non-movant relies, and must state the number of the
movant's fact that is disputed. All material facts set
forth in the Memorandum will be deemed undisputed unless
specifically controverted. The Response may set forth
additional facts other than those which respond to the
Memorandum which the non-movant contends are material to the
resolution of the motion. Each additional fact must be
lettered and must refer with particularity to those portions
of the record upon which the non-movant relies.
D.N.M.LR-Civ. 56.1(b). In his Response to the instant Motion,
as to all fifty-three of Plaintiff's proposed undisputed
material facts, Defendant Gallegos asserted that they
“speak for themselves.” See doc. 220 at
3-6. Further, regarding Plaintiff's asserted facts gg.
through aaa. (or 33-53), Defendant Gallegos, after stating
that each one “speaks for itself[, ]” added that
“Any other interpretation is denied.” See
Id. Finally, as to all fiftythree facts, Defendant
Gallegos argued that they were either not relevant or not
material to Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief.
Id. As a result, the Court finds that Defendant
Gallegos has not disputed any of these fifty-three facts, as
he has not specifically controverted any of them. Bearing
this finding in mind, the Court sets forth the following
undisputed material facts:
1. At all times relevant to this litigation, Defendant Donald
Gallegos has served as the District Attorney for the Eighth
Judicial District of New Mexico, which includes Colfax
County. UMF b.
2. In September 2002, Defendant Gallegos wrote Plaintiff
stating that he had received information that Plaintiff was
planning to place a gate across Red Hill Road. Doc.
125, Ex. C at 1; UMF f.
3. In the September 2002 letter, Defendant Gallegos warned
Plaintiff that Red Hill Road was public, and that Defendant
Gallegos would possibly file criminal charges against
Plaintiff if he obstructed the road. Id.
4. Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff, believing Red Hill Road to
be his private property, placed a locked gate across the road
at the Mora/Colfax County line to prevent public access.
See doc. 21 at 1, 2; UMF d.
5. On August 3, 2011, Defendant Gallegos sent a second letter
to Plaintiff after learning of the locked the gate across Red
Hill Road. In the letter, Defendant Gallegos again informed
Plaintiff of his belief that the road was public and warned
Plaintiff that if he failed to remove it, Defendant Gallegos
would “take any and all steps necessary to make sure
that the gate is opened and/or removed.” Doc.
160-1 at 17; UMF g.
6. On August 11, 2011, Plaintiff filed a quiet title action
in New Mexico's Eighth Judicial District Court, claiming
title to (among other roads and pieces of land) Red Hill Road
where it traverses the Stanley Ranch. Doc. 202 at 3;
doc. 205 at 2; UMF h.
7. The state court quiet title action remains pending.
Doc. 202 at 3; doc. 205 at 2.
8. Before Plaintiff placed a locked gate at the county line,
Red Hill Road had previously been used by some members of the
public, including Defendant Ed Olona, to access White Peak
public lands, a popular hunting and wildlife area. Docs.
136 at 1-3; 136-3 at 2.
9. Defendant Olona, an avid sportsman and former president of
the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, brought the issue of Red
Hill Road's obstruction to the attention of Defendant
Gallegos. See doc. 149-1 at 2, Olona Dep.
18:1-20:17; UMF ee.
10. Defendant Gallegos's factual and legal investigation
into whether the road was public by operation of law relied
entirely on research done and provided to him by others; he
conducted no independent research or investigation. UMF n.
11. Defendant Gallegos ultimately decided that Red Hill Road
was public pursuant to 43 U.S.C. § 932. UMF e.
12. On August 24, 2011, in order to reopen Red Hill Road to
public access, Defendants Gallegos, Olona, and several other
individuals including some police officers, went to the
location of Plaintiff's gate. Defendant Gallegos
personally removed the locked chain securing Plaintiff's
gate with a bolt cutter, and he and others who were present
also removed a barbed-wire fence and T-posts set up at the
cattle crossing. Doc. 125 at 1-2; doc. 21
at 3; doc. 40 at 4; UMF i.
13. On August 26, 2011, Defendant Gallegos sent Plaintiff a
letter informing him, “I have taken action to open the
gate on Red Hill Road.” In that letter, Defendant
Gallegos against asserted that Red Hill Road “is a
public road, ” and informed Plaintiff that if he
obstructed the road again, Defendant Gallegos would
“take action to have criminal charges” filed
against Plaintiff. UMF j.
14. Approximately two weeks later, on September 10, 2011,
Defendant Olona called the Colfax County Sheriff's Office
to report that the gate had been re-locked. Doc.
40-1 at 3; UMF k.
15. Prior to Defendant Olona's phone call to the Colfax
County Sheriff's Office on September 10, 2011, Defendant
Gallegos had advised Colfax County Sheriff Patrick Casias
that Red Hill Road was a public road. Id.
16. Based on Defendant Gallegos's advice, in response to
Defendant Olona's phone call, Sheriff Casias dispatched a
sheriff's deputy to again forcibly unlock the gate across
Red Hill Road using a bolt cutter on September 10, 2011.
17. After Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, Defendant Gallegos
repeatedly testified during his deposition that he would
expressly permit anyone who wanted to go on any road they or
he thought was public to cut locks, remove gates, tear down
fences, or remove any other obstructions without any fear
that he would criminally charge or prosecute them for this
conduct. UMF ii.
18. Defendant Gallegos continues to believe that it was
unnecessary to obtain a court order authorizing him to open
the gate across Red Hill Road, and that he had the authority
to decide that Red Hill Road was public based on his
statutory interpretation, subject to judicial review. UMF pp,
19. During the course of this litigation, Defendant Gallegos
denied Plaintiff's request for admission that
“there has not been any adjudication, determination, or
decision by any governmental authority that Red Hill Road . .
. is a public road[.]” Defendant Gallegos later
testified during his deposition that the basis for his denial
was that he is a governmental authority, and that he
“did decide that it is public.” UMF xx.
20. Defendant Gallegos testified that he would not exclude
the possibility of taking the same action, under the same
circumstances, to open up a road he believes is public based
on identical evidence. UMF aaa.
The Eleventh Amendment does not bar injunctive relief ...