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Suazo v. State

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

August 26, 2019

JOSEPH P. SUAZO, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, filed July 31, 2019 (Doc. 9). Having reviewed the parties' pleadings and the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendant's motion is well-taken and, therefore, is GRANTED. All claims against Defendant are dismissed with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his original complaint in state court on February 14, 2019 while out of custody. Doc. 2-1. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant violated his federal constitutional rights, his “New Mexico rights”, Due Process rights, and committed negligence and “other violations.” Doc. 2-1, p. 2. Plaintiff also asserted he fractured his hip while incarcerated “for no reason”, lack of justice, unlawful arrest, and pain and suffering. Plaintiff did not name any individual defendants. Defendant removed this case to this Court on March 22, 2019. Id.

         Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, but Plaintiff failed to respond. The Court dismissed the complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for (1) failing to identify a party against whom relief could be granted, and (2) failing to state any facts whatsoever in support of his claims. See Doc. 7. The Court sua sponte granted Plaintiff leave to amend, as Plaintiff could conceivably state a claim if he asserted facts and identified individuals responsible for the alleged constitutional violations or torts. See Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991) (pro se plaintiffs should normally be given a reasonable opportunity to remedy defects in their pleadings, unless amendment would be futile).

         On July 10, 2019, Plaintiff filed a letter, which the Court construes as an amended complaint. In his amended complaint, Plaintiff appears to allege that he was (1) arrested (or searched) without a warrant; (2) falsely imprisoned; (3) tampering with evidence; (4) failure to provide discovery in his criminal case in violation of his due process rights; and (5) harmed or injured by misconduct or negligence. However, Plaintiff did not allege any additional facts in support his claim.

         Defendant subsequently filed a second motion to dismiss. Plaintiff failed to respond to the second motion to dismiss.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “In reviewing a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) dismissal, a court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts, as distinguished from conclusory allegations, and those facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Moss v. Kopp, 559 F.3d 1155, 1159 (10th Cir. 2010). “To withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain enough allegations of fact ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, the Court liberally construes the factual allegations. See Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1520-21 (10th Cir. 1992). However, the pleadings are still judged by the same legal standards that apply to all litigants. Ogden v. San Juan County, 32 F.3d 452, 455 (10th Cir. 1994). The Court is not obligated to craft legal theories for the plaintiff or assume the role of advocate. Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110.

         Plaintiff asserts several constitutional violations. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the statutory vehicle for asserting violations of the United States constitution. A cause of action under section 1983 requires the deprivation of a civil right by a ‘person' acting under color of state law.” McLaughlin v. Bd. of Trustees, 215 F.3d 1168, 1172 (10th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff must allege that each government official, through the official's own individual actions, has personally violated the Constitution. See Trask v. Franco, 446 F.3d 1036, 1046 (10th Cir. 1998). There must also be a connection between the official conduct and the constitutional violation. Fogarty v. Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1162 (10th Cir. 2008); Trask, 446 F.3d at 1046.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff appears to allege a mix of federal constitutional claims pursuant to § 1983 and New Mexico state law claims pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. As noted above, the Court previously identified two deficiencies in his complaint which Plaintiff has failed to fix in his amended complaint. Doc. 7.

         I. Named Defendant.

         Plaintiff continues to name the State of New Mexico as the sole defendant. As explained in the Court's prior Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. 7), the State of New Mexico, under these circumstances, is not an entity against ...


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