United States District Court, D. New Mexico
M. Zebas Attorney for the Plaintiff
P Hatcher Attorney for Defendants Board of Commissioners of
the County of Roosevelt, Larry Phillips, and Charlene Webb
M. Martinez Attorney for Defendants Eddy County Detention
Center, Board of Commissioners of the County of Eddy, and
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND AMENDED ORDER
MATTER comes before the Court on: (i) Defendant
Board of Commissioners of the County of Eddy's Amended
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and
Memorandum in Support Thereof, filed November 22, 2016 (Doc.
9)(“EC Motion”); (ii) the Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on Behalf of Board of
Commissioners of the County of Roosevelt, Larry Phillips, and
Charlene Webb, filed December 2, 2016 (Doc. 10)(“RC
Motion”); (iii) Defendant Massingill's Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Based in part on Qualified
Immunity and Memorandum in Support Thereof, filed April 12,
2017 (Doc. 24)(“Massingill Motion”); and (iv) the
Amended Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
on Behalf of Board of Commissioners of the County of
Roosevelt, Larry Phillips, and Charlene Webb, filed May 5,
2017 (Doc. 33)(“Amended RC Motion”). The Court
held a hearing on September 22, 2017. The primary issues are:
(i) whether Defendants Eddy County Detention Center and
Roosevelt County Adult Detention Center may be properly sued
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (ii) whether Defendant Board of
Commissioners of the County of Eddy violated Plaintiff Leroy
Manzanares' due process rights when a purported policy it
had led to an inmate attacking Manzanares with a pickaxe;
(iii) whether Defendant Board of Commissioners of the County
of Roosevelt violated Manzanares' due process rights on a
similar theory; (iv) whether Defendants Larry Phillips,
Charlene Webbs, and Billy Massingill, as decisionmakers at
Roosevelt County Detention and Eddy County Detention, are
liable under due process for the same conduct; and (v)
whether the Court should dismiss Manzanares' state
claims. The Court concludes: (i) Eddy County Detention and
Roosevelt County Detention are not persons, so cannot be sued
under § 1983; (ii) Eddy County's purported policy
does not shock the conscience, so there is no due process
violation; (iii) Roosevelt County's purported policy
likewise does not shock the conscience; (iv) Manzanares'
allegations against Phillips, Webb, and Massingill are
conclusory, but even if they were not, there is no due
process violation and they are entitled to qualified
immunity; and, (v) with no remaining federal claims, the
Court will dismiss the remaining state law claims pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) (“[T]he district courts may
decline to exercise jurisdiction [if] . . . the district
court has dismissed all claims over which it has original
jurisdiction.”). The Court, accordingly, grants in part
and denies in part the requests in the EC Motion, the RC
Motion, the Massingill Motion, and the Amended RC Motion. The
Court dismisses the Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint,
filed November 11, 2016 (Doc. 5)(“FAC” or
“Amended Complaint”), without prejudice.
Court takes its facts from the Amended Complaint. The Court
accepts its factual allegations as true for the purposes of a
motion to dismiss. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)(“Twombly”). The
Court does not, however, accept as true the legal conclusions
within the FAC. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (“[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all
of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable
to legal conclusions.”).
is a Roosevelt County employee and groundskeeper.
See FAC ¶ 18, at 4; id. ¶ 21, at
5. On July 2, 2014, Manzanares was doing maintenance on the
Roosevelt County Fairgrounds, when Roosevelt County Detention
lent Manzanares an inmate -- Defendant Senovio Mendoza -- to
aid Manzanares in his work. See FAC ¶ 19, at 5.
Manzanares, as someone with no connection to Roosevelt County
Detention, believed that such a facility would provide only
“non-violent offender[s]” to aid him in his job.
FAC ¶ 21, at 5. To the contrary, however, Mendoza had a
history of violence and also faced first-degree murder
charges. See FAC ¶¶ 20, 22 at 5. Indeed,
according to the criminal complaint pending against Mendoza,
Mendoza had impersonated a Drug Task Force Agent, broke into
a drug dealer's home, and, moments after forcing that
drug dealer to the floor, executed him with a bullet to the
head. See FAC ¶ 29, at 6. Mendoza had also
previously been convicted of armed robbery, aggravated
battery, and had “violently beat another inmate”
over a television. FAC ¶ 34, at 7. See id.
¶ 43, at 8. Roosevelt County Detention did not tell
Manzanares any of those facts. See FAC ¶¶
20, at 5.
point while aiding Manzanares, Mendoza acquired a pickaxe and
attacked Manzanares, “splitting part of his head open,
instantly knocking him unconscious.” FAC ¶ 23, at
5. Mendoza then stole a vehicle and sped away, leaving
Manzanares for dead. See FAC ¶ 23, at 5.
Manzanares survived but sustained an extensive head injury.
See FAC ¶¶ 24, 37, 39, at 5, 7.
the pickaxe attack, Mendoza was housed at Eddy County
Detention. See FAC ¶ 25, at 5. Eddy County
Detention and Roosevelt County Detention maintain a detainee
transfer agreement should one of the detention centers become
overcrowded, but transfers between the two facilities are
allowed only if the offender is non-violent. See FAC
¶¶ 26, 30 at 6. Despite this limitation, Eddy
County Detention transferred Mendoza to Roosevelt County
Detention. See FAC ¶ 25, at 5. In executing
that transfer, Eddy County Detention knew of Mendoza's
history and pending criminal charges but misrepresented those
details to Roosevelt County Detention telling that facility
that “Mendoza was merely a murder witness and not a
murder suspect.” FAC ¶ 28, at 6. See id.
¶ 27, at 6.
Eddy County Detention misrepresented Mendoza's history to
Roosevelt County Detention, Roosevelt County Detention
“should have done a background check” on Mendoza
before accepting him. FAC ¶ 31, at 6. Roosevelt County
Detention did not perform that background check, however.
See FAC ¶¶ 31-32, at 6-7. Such a
background check would have revealed that Mendoza had
previously attacked another inmate and, thus, that Mendoza
was a threat to society not fit for a work assignment on the
Roosevelt County Fairgrounds. See FAC ¶¶
34-35, 42, 44 at 7-9.
sues, asserting negligence and that the Defendants violated
his substantive due process rights. See FAC
¶¶ 60-80, at 12-15. On due process, he contends
that the Defendants acted arbitrarily and capriciously,
depriving him of the guarantee that he will not be deprived
of life, liberty, or property. See FAC ¶ 61, at
12. He also contends that the Defendants failed to train
their penitentiary personnel, and that they knew or should
have known that Mendoza should not have been transferred to
Roosevelt County Detention or assigned to help Manzanares on
the Fairgrounds. See FAC ¶¶ 62-65, 68-70,
at 12-14. Finally, he asserts that Eddy County Detention has
a policy, practice, or custom of “dumping unwanted
inmates onto other detention facilities” regardless of
those inmates' safety classifications and Roosevelt
County Detention was aware of that practice, but did nothing
to stop it. FAC ¶ 66, at 13. See Id. ¶ 67,
at 13. On negligence, he argues that the Defendants owed a
duty to Manzanares and breached that duty for failing to
properly classify Mendoza, resulting in Manzanares'
injuries. See ¶¶ 72-80, at 14-15.
The EC Motion.
County moves to dismiss. See EC Motion at 1. First,
it argues that the Court should dismiss the FAC's claims
against Eddy County Detention, because “governmental
sub-units, ” such as detention centers, “are not
properly suable entities in § 1983 actions.” EC
Motion at 1, n.1 (citing Martinez v. Winner, 771
F.2d 424, 444 (10th Cir. 1985)). Eddy County asserts,
moreover, that it cannot be liable for any conduct, because
Manzanares asserts no constitutional violation and no county
policy that “was the moving force behind the
violation.” EC Motion at 6 (“Indeed, it appears
that the actions complained of would not be as a result of a
policy, but rather necessarily would be due to a breach
thereof.”). Eddy County also argues that there are no
allegations of the County's “deliberate conduct,
” which would give rise to a constitutional violation.
See EC Motion at 7-8; id. at 8 n.4.
County avers that Manzanares' negligence claim fails too,
because Eddy County has not waived its sovereign immunity.
See EC Motion at 8-9. It also argues that
Manzanares' tort claim is time barred, because it appears
to have occurred more than two years before Manzanares filed
his complaint. See EC Motion at 9. Eddy County
requests the Court, accordingly, to dismiss the claims
against Eddy County and Eddy County Detention with prejudice.
See EC Motion at 9.
The RC Motion.
County, Phillips, and Webb move to dismiss. See RC
Motion at 1. They argue that the Court should dismiss
Roosevelt County Detention, because “governmental
subunits cannot be sued as a separate entity from the County
itself in § 1983 cases.” RC Motion at 2. See
id. at 5. Roosevelt County, Phillips, and Webb argue
that the Court should dismiss the claim against Roosevelt
County, because Manzanares has not alleged a policy or custom
that caused a constitutional injury. See RC Motion
at 5-6. They also assert that Roosevelt County cannot be
liable “for acts of its employees on a respondeat
superior theory, ” which, according to Roosevelt
County, Phillips, and Webb, is all that Manzanares has
alleged. RC Motion at 6 (emphasis in original). Roosevelt
County, Phillips, and Webb add that the Court should dismiss
the individual capacity suits against Phillips and Webb,
because all Manzanares has alleged is supervisory liability,
which is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
See RC Motion at 7-8.
County, Phillips, and Webb argue that the negligence claims
fails, because the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Act,
N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 52-1-1 to -70
(“WCA”), provides the exclusive remedy when a
government employee is injured during the course of
employment. See RC Motion at 8-10. Finally, they
argue that the Court should dismiss the punitive damage
claim, because counties and municipalities are “immune
to punitive damages in § 1983 cases.” RC Motion at
10. Accordingly, they request that the Court dismiss the
action against Roosevelt County, Roosevelt County Detention,
Phillips, and Webb. See RC Motion at 10.
EC Motion Response.
responds to the EC Motion. See Plaintiff's
Response to Defendant Eddy County Board of Commissioners'
Amended Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Complaint and
Memorandum in Support Thereof at 1, filed December 8, 2016
(Doc. 12)(“EC Motion Response”). He contends that
Eddy County is liable, because it misrepresented
Mendoza's criminal history to Roosevelt County Detention.
See EC Motion Response at 5. According to
Manzanares, that misrepresentation demonstrates that Eddy
County was, at least, deliberately indifferent to
Manzanares' safety, establishing a constitutional
violation. See EC Motion Response at 6-8. He adds
that, beyond mere deliberate indifference, however, Eddy
County “deliberately created” the danger that led
to Manzanares' harm, which, according to Manzanares, is
actionable under § 1983 as a danger-creation claim.
See EC Motion Response at 9.
contends that there is no statute of limitations problem on
his negligence claim, because the triggering event occurred
on July 2, 2014, and he filed his complaint on July 1, 2016
-- within the two-year period. See EC Motion
Response at 10. He also argues that he has a negligence
claim's elements, because Eddy County breached its duty
to prevent dangerous inmates from being transferred, which
resulted in the pickaxe attack causing Manzanares harm.
EC Motion Response at 10-11. Accordingly, Manzanares requests
that the Court deny the EC Motion. See EC Motion
Response at 11.
RC Motion Response.
responds to the RC Motion. See Plaintiff's
Response to Defendant Board of Commissioners of the County of
Roosevelt's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First
Amended Complaint at 1, filed December 8, 2016 (Doc.
12)(“RC Motion Response”). Manzanares argues
that, because Roosevelt County Detention failed to screen a
violent inmate from working in the community, it violated
Manzanares' due process rights. See RC Motion
Response at 4. He adds that Roosevelt County's failure to
train its employees to properly screen inmates demonstrates
deliberate indifference to a potential constitutional
violation, creating liability. See RC Motion
Response at 5.
argues that his state claim meets the WCA standards, because
Roosevelt County Detention staff recklessly disregarded
Mendoza's danger to the public, which was expected to
result and resulted in an injury. See RC Motion
Response at 7-8. He contends, accordingly, that the WCA does
not provide immunity from his tort claim. See RC
Motion Response at 8. Manzanares concludes by asking the
Court to deny the RC Motion. See RC Motion Response
County replies. See Defendant Board of Commissioners
of the County of Eddy's Reply Memorandum for its Motion
to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint at 1,
filed December 14, 2016 (Doc. 15)(“EC Reply”). It
asserts that Manzanares fails to establish a constitutional
violation, because “[t]here is no alleged policy, no
alleged practice, no alleged failure to train or supervise,
and no alleged decision by any final decision-maker.”
EC Reply at 6. Eddy County contends that Manzanares has not
alleged a danger-creation claim, as he “fails to
identify the alleged state actor or their purported
actions.” EC Reply at 7. Eddy County also argues that,
even if some of the elements of a danger-creation claim are
met, he has not alleged conduct that would “shock the
conscience.” EC Reply at 8. According to Eddy County,
negligence is not conduct that would shock the conscience.
See EC Reply at 8 (citing Glover v.
Gartman, 899 F.Supp.2d 1115, 1135-36 (D.N.M.
2012)(Browning, J.)). Eddy County avers that Manzanares has
not even argued, let alone established, that the state waived
its sovereign immunity for his tort claim. See EC
Reply at 8.
County, Phillips, and Webb reply. See
Defendants' Reply Memorandum in Support of Their Motion
to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint at 1, filed
January 6, 2017 (Doc. 20)(“RC Reply”). They argue
that Manzanares has not stated a plausible claim, because
“[t]here is no reference in the allegations to any
specific written policy promulgated by Roosevelt County which
directly led to the damages claimed.” RC Reply at 8.
Roosevelt County, Phillips, and Webb contend that,
“[a]t best, ” Manzanares “alleges a
one-time occurrence” without any indication about
“what training and supervision should have been carried
out” and “by whom.” RC Reply at 9.
Roosevelt County, Phillips, and Webb aver that the Court
should dismiss the claims against Phillips and Webb, because
Manzanares' lone allegation against them that “they
have final responsibility for training, supervision, and
policy implementation” does not trigger § 1983
liability. RC Reply at 12 (“There is no allegation
against these individuals of personal involvement in the
alleged wrongdoing.”). Finally, Roosevelt County,
Phillips, and Webb contend that the Court should dismiss the
negligence claim, because, under the WCA, the plaintiff must
allege an intentional act, but, here, Manzanares alleges
“deliberate indifference and/or reckless
disregard.” RC Reply at 13.
moves to dismiss, arguing that he is entitled to qualified
immunity. See Massingill Motion at 1. Massingill
contends that he is entitled to qualified immunity, because
he did not cause any constitutional harm. See
Massingill Motion at 7 (“[T]he Plaintiff has failed to
allege that Defendant Massingill authorized or approved the
alleged misconduct.”); id. at 11
(“Defendant Massingill submits that there is no well
plead factual allegation that he personally violated
Plaintiff's constitutional rights.”). He argues
that Manzanares, at best, asserts conclusory allegations
about “inadequate supervision and training, ”
which, according to Massingill, do not amount to a §
1983 violation. Massingill Motion at 7. Accordingly, he
requests that the Court dismiss the claims in the FAC against
him. See Massingill Motion at 11.
Massingill Motion Response.
responds to the Massingill Motion. See
Plaintiff's Response to Defendant Massingill's Motion
to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Memorandum in
Support Thereof [Doc 24] at 1, filed May 5, 2017 (Doc.
32)(“Massingill Motion Response”). Manzanares
contends that, as Eddy County Detention's warden,
Massingill is “directly responsible” for
overseeing “ECDC's involvement in all contractual
arrangements, detention officer training, and proper
classification of inmates.” Massingill Motion Response
at 4. Thus, according to Manzanares, Massingill's failure
to take measures to prevent Mendoza's transfer or notify
Roosevelt County Detention about Mendoza's violent
history amounts to a constitutional violation. See
Massingill Motion Response at 4; id. at 6-7
(“The fact that Defendant Massingill allowed for such a
violent individual to be transferred with no warning is
absolutely shocking to the conscious and was certainly
committed with deliberate indifference.”). Manzanares
contends that Massingill is not entitled to qualified
immunity, because the Supreme Court has clearly established
the right that there is a due process violation when
“state's affirmative actions either create or
increase risk of private violence.” Massingill Motion
Response at 9-10 (citing Deshaney v. Winnebago County
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 197 (1989)).
Accordingly, Manzanares requests that the Court deny the
Massingill Motion. See Massingill Motion Response at
Amended RC Motion.
County, Phillips, and Webb file the Amended RC Motion to
raise one additional ground to dismiss Manzanares'
negligence claim. See Amended RC Motion at
1.They argue that the Court must dismiss the
negligence claim, because the New Mexico Tort Claims Act,
N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 41-4-1- to -30
(“NMTCA”), provides the exclusive remedy for tort
claims against public officials and governmental entities,
and Manzanares does not identify a waiver of immunity in his
Amended Complaint. See Amended RC Motion at 10.
Accordingly, they request that the Court dismiss the
negligence claim on those grounds. See Amended RC
Motion at 10.
Massingill Motion Reply.
replies. See Defendant Warden Massingill's Reply
Memorandum for his Motion to Dismiss Count I of
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and for Qualified
Immunity at 1, filed May 15, 2017 (Doc. 34)(“Massingill
Motion Reply”). Massingill contends that the Court
should dismiss the § 1983 claim against him, because the
Amended Complaint contains only “vague”
allegations about Massingill's conduct, which does not
meet the Twombly standard. Massingill Motion Reply
at 4. See id at 5 (“There is simply not one
fact in the amended pleading -- not one -- which could
support imposition of individual liability in this
context.”)(emphasis omitted). Massingill also asserts
that he is entitled to qualified immunity, because Manzanares
“has not even attempted to assert that there is any
Supreme Court or Tenth Circuit authority” on point to
satisfy qualified immunity's clearly established prong.
Massingill Motion Reply at 6. Accordingly, Massingill
requests that the Court to dismiss the § 1983 claims
against him. See Massingill Motion Reply at 7.
Amended RC Motion Response.
responds to the Amended RC Motion. See Response to
Defendant Roosevelt's Amend Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint On behalf of
Commissioners of Roosevelt County, Larry Phillips and
Charlene Webb at 1, filed May 26, 2017 (Doc.
37)(“Amended RC Motion Response”). For the first
time, Manzanares argues that, under rule 17(b) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, Roosevelt County Detention is the
proper party to be sued -- at least for a claim under the
NMTCA. See Amended RC Motion Response at 3 (citing
Villa v. Dona Ana Cty., 2010 WL 16619163, at *5
(D.N.M. Sept. 14, 2010)(Black, J.)). Manzanares contends that
Phillips and Webb are liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
because they set in motion a chain of events leading to the
pickaxe attack, namely that they “simply ignor[ed] the
classification of inmates upon booking into the RCDC
facility.” Amended RC Motion Response at 8 (citing FAC
¶¶ 42-43, at 8-9). Manzanares asserts that his
negligence claim is still viable, because, as an employee of
Roosevelt County Fairgrounds, the WCA exclusion does not
apply. See Amended RC Motion Response at 10. He also
argues that the NMTCA does not preclude his § 1983
claim. See Amended RC Motion Response at 12.
Amended RC Reply.
County, Phillips, and Webb reply in support of the RC Amended
Motion. See Reply Memorandum of Roosevelt County
Defendants in Support of Their Amended Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint at 1, filed June 14, 2017
(Doc. 41)(“RC Amended Motion
Reply”). They argue that, although NMTCA does not
preclude § 1983 claims, it precludes negligence claims.
See RC Amended Motion Reply at 14. According to
Roosevelt County, Phillips, and Webb, the Court should
dismiss Manzanares' negligence claim, because the NMTCA
precludes it. See RC Amended Motion Reply at 14.
Court held a hearing. See Draft Transcript of Motion
Proceedings at 1:1 (taken September 22,
2017)(Court)(“Tr.”). The Court began by noting
that a plaintiff cannot sue detention centers under §
1983, so it is inclined to dismiss both Eddy County Detention
and Roosevelt County Detention as parties. See Tr.
at 5:11-6:1 (Court). Eddy County and Massingill argued that
the Court should dismiss the § 1983 claims, because
Manzanares has not alleged a constitutional violation, nor
had he alleged a policy or practice that resulted in any
constitutional violation. See Tr. at 7:13-16
(Martinez). They contend that Manzanares' allegation that
Eddy County failed to tell Roosevelt County about
Mendoza's classification cannot amount to a policy or
practice leading to a constitutional violation, because
“there is no allegation that this has ever occurred
before or since.” Tr. at 9:16-19 (Martinez). Eddy
County and Massingill assert that, rather than arguing that
Eddy County's policy violates the Constitution of the
United States of America, Manzanares has alleged that Eddy
County violated its policy, which led to the harm.
See Tr. at 10:6-8 (Martinez)(citing FAC ¶ 69,
Court posited that the FAC could be read to say that it is
Eddy County's policy to dump dangerous inmates without a
warning on Roosevelt County. See Tr. at 10:13-17
(Court). Eddy County and Massingill responded that the FAC
lacks any such allegations. See Tr. at 10:18-24
(Martinez). They add that the only plausible claim in the
complaint is possibly negligence, but negligence does not
amount to a substantive due process claim. See Tr.
at 11:1-13 (Martinez).
responded that he is asserting that there was a custom or
practice, which resulted in a substantive due process
violation. See Tr. at 13:5 (Zebas). He conceded that
he could not, without discovery, establish that there was a
formal policy. See Tr. at 12:25-13:1 (Zebas). He
asserts that the custom or practice in Eddy County is that,
“in the event of overcrowding at one of their
facilities, nonviolent offenders would be transferred.”
Tr. at 13:12-16 (Zebas). See id. at 14:7-23 (Court,
Zebas)(identifying FAC ¶¶ 25-26, at 5-6, as the
allegations that establish the custom or practice that he is
asserting). Upon the Court's questioning, Manzanares
conceded that the custom identified “doesn't
violate the United States Constitution” and it does not
“shock the conscience.” Tr. at 14:14-15:4 (Court,
Zebas). See Id. at 15:2-3 (Court)(“That's
probably just prudent management between two facilities,
right?”). Manzanares also admitted that he was alleging
that some individual employed with Eddy or Roosevelt County
violated their policies. See Tr. at 16:17-20 (Court,
then pivoted to argue that Eddy County and Roosevelt County
did not train their staffs on the proper policies.
See Tr. at 18:5-9 (Zebas). He also argued that Eddy
County acted with deliberate indifference to others'
safety by transferring Mendoza “who has a pattern and
practice of violent offenses.” Tr. at 19:23-20:2
(Zebas). He concluded that “it really is shocking to
the conscience that Mr. Mendoza fell through the system and
was transferred to Roosevelt County in violation of an
agreement that only nonviolent offenders would be
transferred.” Tr. at 21:7-11 (Zebas).
County and Massingill responded that Manzanares' claim
amounts to a respondeat superior theory, which cannot lead to
liability under § 1983. See Tr. at 22:3-11
(Martinez). They added that, even if someone “at the
frontline level . . . made a mistake, ” there is no 42
U.S.C. § 1983 liability, because they would be entitled
to qualified immunity. Tr. at 22:12-21 (Court, Martinez).
Eddy County and Massingill contended that anyone failing to
do a background check on a transferred inmate is, at best,
negligent, so does not rise to the requisite conduct that
“shocks the conscience.” Tr. at 22:22-23:9
(Martinez). They added that, even if an employee
“intentionally transported” a violent inmate,
which is not alleged, such conduct does not “shock the
conscience, ” because there are “so many
procedural safeguards at Roosevelt County” to prevent
harm that something else had to happen to lead to injury. Tr.
at 24:1-16 (Martinez). See id. at 24:25-25:5
County, Phillips, and Webb argued that the Court should
dismiss the § 1983 claim against Roosevelt County,
because “[t]here is no policy alleged.” Tr. at
35:6 (Hatcher). They contended that the allegations here are
that Roosevelt County was deliberately indifferent to
Mendoza's violent/non-violent classification, which does
not amount to liability under Monell v. Department of
Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658
(1978)(“Monell”). See Tr. at
35:6-22 (Hatcher). They also contended that there are
failure-to-train, supervise, and failure-to-protect
Manzanares allegations, but such allegations are conclusory,
merely tracking the Monell language. See
Tr. at 36:1-22 (Court, Hatcher). Roosevelt County, Phillips,
and Webb argue that Manzanares' constitutional claim is
ultimately a respondeat superior theory, which does not give
rise to liability. See Tr. 38:1-14 (Hatcher).
argued that Roosevelt County never reclassified Mendoza as
they accepted him into Roosevelt County Detention, which,
according to Manzanares, demonstrates a failure to train,
supervise, or adequately screen. See Tr. at 41:12-16
(Zebas); id. at 44:19-45:2 (Zebas). Manzanares
concedes, however, that he has no discovery concerning
Roosevelt County's training and supervision policies.
See Tr. at 47:14-21 (Zebas). Roosevelt County,
Phillips, and Webb countered that the only allegation against
Phillips and Webb is a conclusory assertion that they had
“the final responsibility for training and
supervision” at Roosevelt County Detention, which,
according to Roosevelt County, Phillips, and Webb, cannot
create liability. Tr. at 52:1-16 (Hatcher)(citing FAC ¶
78, at 15).
County and Massingill argued that Massingill is entitled to
qualified immunity. See Tr. at 63:2 (Martinez). They
contended that the only allegations against Massingill are
conclusory assertions that, as Eddy County Detention's
warden, he had “final responsibility for the training,
supervision, management, and policy implementation” of
Eddy County Detention. Tr. at 63:11-21 (Martinez). It
follows, according to Eddy County and Massingill, that such
bare allegations, with no factual meat, do not survive the
Twombly standard. See Tr. at 63:22-64:1
(Martinez). Eddy County and Massingill also contended that
there is no case law on point demonstrating that the law was
clearly established, even if there is a constitutional
violation. See Tr. at 65:6-13 (Martinez). Manzanares
contended, to the contrary, that Massingill “had
personal involvement, ” and that he caused harm to
Manzanares, violating Manzanares' substantive due process
right. Tr. at 68:19-69:1 (Zebas). He also argued that there
is a case on point demonstrating that the law is clearly
established. See Tr. at 73:6-8 (Zebas)(citing
Yvonne v. New Mexico Dep't of Human Servs., 959
F.2d 883, 884 (10th Cir. 1992)). According to Manzanares, in
that case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth
Circuit ruled that, should there be a special relationship
between the state and private citizens, there is a viable
substantive due process claim. See Tr. at 73:16-24
(Zebas). The Court ended by stating its inclination that it
would dismiss all of the federal claims and then dismiss the
state claims without prejudice by declining to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction. See Tr. at 96:6-12
REGARDING RULE 12(b)(6)
12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “The nature of a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the allegations
within the four corners of the complaint after taking those
allegations as true.” Mobley v. McCormick, 40
F.3d 337, 340 (10th Cir. 1994). The complaint's
sufficiency is a question of law, and, when considering a
rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must accept as true all
well-pled factual allegations in the complaint, view those
allegations in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, and draw all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor. See Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues
& Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322
(2007)(“[O]nly if a reasonable person could not draw .
. . an inference [of plausibility] from the alleged facts
would the defendant prevail on a motion to dismiss.”);
Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th
Cir. 2009)(“[F]or purposes of resolving a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, we accept as true all well-pled factual allegations
in a complaint and view these allegations in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.”)(citing Moore v.
Guthrie, 438 F.3d 1036, 1039 (10th Cir. 2006)).
complaint need not set forth detailed factual allegations,
yet a “pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” is insufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678 (2009)(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that
all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if
doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's complaint must
contain sufficient facts that, if assumed to be true, state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Mink v. Knox, 613
F.3d 995, 1000 (10th Cir. 2010). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “Thus, the mere metaphysical possibility
that some plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support
of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complainant must
give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a
reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for these
claims.” Ridge at Red Hawk, LLC v. Schneider,
493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007)(emphasis omitted). The
Tenth Circuit has stated:
“[P]lausibility” in this context must refer to
the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so
general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of
it innocent, then the plaintiffs “have not nudged their
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.”
The allegations must be enough that, if assumed to be true,
the plaintiff plausibly (not just speculatively) has a claim
Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir.
2008)(citations omitted)(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). See Gallegos v.
Bernalillo Cty. Board of Cty. Comm'rs, 278 F.Supp.3d
1245, 1258-59 (D.N.M. 2017)(Browning, J.).
a party presents matters outside of the pleadings for
consideration, as a general rule ‘the court must either
exclude the material or treat the motion as one for summary
judgment.'” Brokers' Choice of America,
Inc. v. NBC Universal, Inc., 861 F.3d 1081, 1103 (10th
Cir. 2017)(quoting Alexander v. Oklahoma, 382 F.3d
1206, 1214 (10th Cir. 2004)). There are three limited
exceptions to this general principle: (i) documents that the
complaint incorporates by reference, see Tellabs, Inc. v.
Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322
(2007); (ii) “documents referred to in the complaint if
the documents are central to the plaintiff's claim and
the parties do not dispute the documents' authenticity,
” Jacobsen v. Deseret Book Co., 287 F.3d at
941; and (iii) “matters of which a court may take
judicial notice, ” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues
& Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. at 322. See
Brokers' Choice of America, Inc. v. NBC Universal,
Inc., 861 F.3d 1081, 1103 (10th Cir. 2017)(holding that
the district court did not err by reviewing a seminar
recording and a television episode on a rule 12(b)(6) motion,
which were “attached to or referenced in the amended
complaint, ” central to the plaintiff's claim, and
“undisputed as to their accuracy and
authenticity”). “[T]he court is permitted to take
judicial notice of its own files and records, as well as
facts which are a matter of public record.” Van
Woudenberg v. Gibson, 211 F.3d 560, 568 (10th Cir.
2000), abrogated on other grounds by McGregor v.
Gibson, 248 F.3d 946, 955 (10th Cir. 2001).
Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178 (10th Cir. 2010), the
defendants “supported their motion with numerous
documents, and the district court cited portions of those
motions in granting the [motion to dismiss].” 627 F.3d
at 1186. The Tenth Circuit held that “[s]uch reliance
was improper” and that, even if “the district
court did not err initially in reviewing the materials, the
court improperly relied on them to refute Mr. Gee's
factual assertions and effectively convert the motion to one
for summary judgment.” 627 F.3d at 1186-87. In other
cases, the Tenth Circuit has emphasized that,
“[b]ecause the district court considered facts outside
of the complaint, however, it is clear that the district
court dismissed the claim under Rule 56(c) and not Rule
12(b)(6).” Nard v. City of Okla. City, 153
Fed.Appx. 529, 534 n.4 (10th Cir. 2005)(unpublished). In
Douglas v. Norton, 167 Fed.Appx. 698 (10th Cir.
2006)(unpublished), the Tenth Circuit addressed an untimely
filed charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
-- which the Tenth Circuit analogized to a statute of
limitations -- and concluded that, because the requirement is
not jurisdictional, the district court should have analyzed
the question under rule 12(b)(6), and “because the
district court considered evidentiary materials outside of
Douglas' complaint, it should have treated Norton's
motion as a motion for summary judgment.” 167 Fed.Appx.
Court has previously ruled that, when a plaintiff references
and summarizes the defendants' statements in a complaint,
the Court cannot rely on documents containing those
statements that the Defendant's attach in their briefing.
See Mocek v. City of Albuquerque, 2013 WL 312881, at
*50-51 (D.N.M. Jan. 14, 2013)(Browning, J.). The Court
reasoned that the statements were neither incorporated by
reference nor central to the plaintiff's allegations in
the complaint, because the plaintiff cited the statements
only to attack the Defendant's reliability and
truthfulness. See 2013 WL 312881, at *50-51. The
Court has also previously ruled that, when determining
whether to toll a statute of limitations in an action
alleging fraud and seeking subrogation from a defendant, the
Court may not use interviews and letters attached to a motion
to dismiss, which show that a plaintiff was aware of the
defendant's alleged fraud before the statutory period
expired. See Great Am. Co. v. Crabtree, 2012 WL
3656500, at *3, *22-23 (D.N.M. Aug. 23, 2012)(Browning,
J.)(“Crabtree”). The Court, in
Crabtree, determined that the documents did not fall
within any of the Tenth Circuit's exceptions to the
general rule that a complaint must rest on the sufficiency of
its contents alone, as the complaint did not incorporate the
documents by reference or refer to the documents.
See 2012 WL 3656500, at *22-23; Mocek
v. City of Albuquerque, 2013 WL 312881, at *50
(refusing to consider statements that were not “central
to [the plaintiff's] claims”).
other hand, in a securities class action, the Court has ruled
that a defendant's operating certification, to which
plaintiffs refer to in their complaint, and which was central
to whether the plaintiffs adequately alleged a loss, falls
within an exception to the general rule, so the Court may
consider the operating certification when ruling on the
defendant's motion to dismiss without converting the
motion into one for summary judgment. See Genesee Cty.
Emps.' Retirement Sys. v. Thornburg Mortg. Secs. Trust
2006-3, 825 F.Supp.2d 1082, 1150-51 (D.N.M.
2011)(Browning, J.); Mata v. Anderson, 760 F.Supp.2d
1068, 1101 (D.N.M. 2009)(Browning, J.)(relying on documents
outside of the complaint because they were “documents
that a court can appropriately view as either part of the
public record, or as documents upon which the Complaint
relies, and the authenticity of which is not in
dispute”); S.E.C. v. Goldstone, 952 F.Supp.2d
1060, 1217-18 (D.N.M. 2013)(Browning, J.)(considering, on a
motion to dismiss, electronic mail transmissions referenced
in the complaint as “documents referred to in the
complaint, ” which are “central to the
plaintiff's claim” and whose authenticity the
plaintiff did not challenge).
REGARDING 42 U.S.C. ...