Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Woods v. Rio Rancho Public Schools

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

January 17, 2019

DENNIS WOODS, as guardian and next friend of T.W. and D.W. and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
RIO RANCHO PUBLIC SCHOOLS, THE RIO RANCHO PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION, RICHARD BRUCE, MIKE BAKER, LINDA KITTS, B.J. HARTFORD, MIKE LAWTON, CHRIS BECK, and KIM FULTON Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (1) GRANTING INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS COUNT II OF PLAINTIFFS' SECOND AMENDED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT ON THE BASIS OF QUALFIED IMMUNITY, [DOC. 70], (2) GRANTING OFFICIAL-CAPACITY DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' COUNT I AS POLICY No. 339 WAS FACIALLY VALID, [DOC. 72], AND (3) DECLINING TO EXERCISE SUPPLEMENTAL JURISDICTION OVER PLAINTIFFS' STATE LAW CLAIMS BROUGHT PURSUANT TO THE NEW MEXICO TORT CLAIMS ACT

          WILLIAM P JOHNSON JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on three motions:

(1) Individual Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiffs' Second Amended Class Action Complaint on the Basis of Qualified Immunity, which seeks to dismiss all Fourth Amendment claims brought in Count II against Defendants Linda Kitts, B.J. Hartford, Mike Lawton, and Kim Fulton, [Doc. 70, filed September 20, 2018];
(2) Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Claims Brought Pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act on the Basis of Governmental Immunity, [Doc. 71, filed September 20, 2018]; and
(3) Official-Capacity Defendants' Motion in Support of Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Count I as Policy No. 339 was Facially Valid, [Doc. 72, filed September 20, 2018].

         Having reviewed the parties' briefs and the applicable law, the Court finds that:

(1) Individual Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiffs' Second Amended Class Action Complaint on the Basis of Qualified Immunity, [Doc. 70], is well-taken and, therefore, is GRANTED;
(2) Official-Capacity Defendants' Motion in Support of Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Count I as Policy No. 339 was Facially Valid, [Doc. 72], is well-taken and, therefore, is GRANTED; and
(3) the Court declines to address Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Claims Brought Pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act on the Basis of Governmental Immunity, [Doc. 71], on the grounds that the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state law claims. The Court will address these motions in that order.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the County of Sandoval, State of New Mexico on February 28, 2017, and Defendants removed the case to federal court April 26, 2017. [Doc. 1, filed April 26, 2017].

         The salient facts are as follows: Dennis Woods, as the guardian and next friend of minor Plaintiffs T.W. and D.W., and “on behalf of all others similarly situated, ” seeks to represent a class of “no fewer than 23 middle school students” alleging that they were all subjected to unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment. [Doc. 67, filed August 8, 2018].[1] Plaintiffs also “challenge the constitutionality of an official policy of the Rio Rancho Public Schools” alleging that the policy, [2] which allows for searches and seizures in school under certain circumstances, is unconstitutional on its face and as applied, and Plaintiffs seek to bring a cause of action under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. [Id.].

         Plaintiffs allege that on April 16, 2015, approximately twenty-three Rio Rancho Middle School students were subjected to three separate searches: a search (1) in the cafeteria; (2) in the girls' restroom; and (3) in the principal's office. [Id. ¶¶ 39-69].

         1. Search in the Cafeteria

         As claimed in the second amended complaint, Plaintiffs state that the students were in a classroom at Rio Rancho Middle School located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. [Id. ¶ 39]. At one point a student reported to the teacher that someone allegedly stole $210 from her in the form of ten (10) twenty-dollar bills and one (1) ten-dollar bill. [Id. ¶ 40]. As a response, the teacher requested that a security guard come to the classroom. [Id. ¶ 41]. Defendant Mike Lawton, one of the school's security guards, responded to the request and discussed the situation with the student that reported the money stolen. [Id. ¶ 42]. Defendant Linda Kitts, the school's principal, and Defendant Chris Beck, an officer for the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department and the school resource officer for the school, arrived at the classroom shortly after Defendant Lawton responded. [Id. ¶ 44]. Defendant Kitts instructed the students to place their head on their desks, and stated that the person responsible could confess by raising her hand and return the money without consequence. [Id. ¶ 45]. No student raised their hand. [Id. ¶ 46].

         Shortly after, Defendant Kitts instructed the students to walk to the cafeteria to be searched. [Id. ¶ 47]. From that point on, a search occurred on the students. [Id. ¶ 49]. Plaintiffs state that either Defendant Lawton, Defendant Kim Fulton, a security guard at the school, or Defendant B.J. Hartford, an assistant principal at the school, conducted the searches on the students. [Id.]. The searches included “forcing” the students “to turn out their pockets, remove their shoes, show the bottoms of their feet, and subject themselves to a pat down search.” in an attempt to find the money. [Id. ΒΆ 51]. Furthermore, Plaintiffs state that each student, including T.W. and D.W., had their ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.