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Stocks v. City of Aurora

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 24, 2014

THOMAS STOCKS, and MICHELLE STOCKS, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF AURORA, DANIEL J. OATES, BRADLEY GUILLICKSRUD, DANIEL WITTENBORN, SCOTT COOPER, STEVEN W. STANTON, DANIEL JOHNSON, JOSH MOHLMAN, CHRISTOPHER POPPE, JAD LANIGAN, PATRICK SMITH, and JOSEPH DAGOSTA, Defendants.

ORDER ADOPTING IN PART THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

R. BROOKE JACKSON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on defendants' partial motion to dismiss. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367(a). The motion has been fully briefed and is accompanied by a thorough and thoughtful Report and Recommendation from Judge Shaffer that the motion be granted. For the reasons explained below, I largely adopt Judge Shaffer's recommendation and grant in part the motion to dismiss.

I. Factual Background

On May 24, 2011, officers from the Aurora Police Department stopped Mr. Thomas Stocks while he was driving his Prius.[1] [ECF No. 20 at 4.][2] Mr. Stocks was arrested during that stop, and items were seized from his car. Id. Later that same day officers arrived at a business owned by Mr. and Ms. Stocks where they allegedly entered without a warrant, seized additional property, and questioned Ms. Michelle Stocks without providing Miranda warnings. Id. The Stocks claim that at some later date they attempted to recover the items that were seized-$1, 200 in cash, a GPS unit, a pistol, and a camera-but one of the defendants, Officer Patrick Smith, "refused to return property or give any paperwork on seized property." Id. at 5. Finally, the Stocks allege that a series of negative repercussions flowed from the search and seizure including "loss of economic resources" and "severe emotional distress." Id. at 5-6.

II. Procedural Background

On November 21, 2011, the Stocks mailed a letter to the Aurora City Attorney's Office and the Aurora Police Department stating that the Stocks intended to sue the recipients for "violat[ing] their U.S. and Colorado constitutional rights by conducting unwarranted searches and seizure of property." [ECF No. 35.] The letter went on to detail their financial losses and to claim that the constitutional violations were "willful and wanton." Id.

The Stocks then filed a pro se civil suit against the City of Aurora, Chief of Police Daniel Oates, and several individual officers on April 30, 2013. [ECF No. 1.] Magistrate Judge Boyd Boland issued an order directing the plaintiffs to use the proper forms and include additional required information. [ECF No. 5.] Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on June 11, 2013. [ECF No. 8.] After receiving the amended complaint, Judge Boland issued a second order directing the plaintiffs to correct certain deficiencies in their amended complaint and specifically advising them that they must plead facts indicating personal participation by each named defendant in the allegedly unconstitutional actions. [ECF No. 10.] Plaintiffs filed a third version of their complaint on August 14, 2013. [ECF No. 20.] In this latest iteration, the complaint raises four causes of action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of federal constitutional rights and four state common law tort claims. The claims are as follows:

• Claim One (Deprivation of Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983)
• Claim Two (Failure to Implement Appropriate Policies, Customs, and Practices in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983)
• Claim Three (Use of Excessive Force in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983)
• Claim Four (False Imprisonment in Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983)
• Claim Five (Negligence)
• Claim Six (Negligent Supervision)
• Claim Seven (Conversion)
• Claim Eight (Assault)

The case was briefly reassigned to Judge Wiley Daniel of this Court, at which point pursuant to D.C.Colo.LCivR 7.5 defendants notified the Court that the Stocks are currently facing criminal prosecution in Arapahoe County in connection with the events underlying their civil suit. [ECF No. 23 citing People v. Thomas Archie Stocks, Case No. 2011CR1062 (Arapahoe Cnty. Ct.) and People v. Michelle Rosales Stocks, Case No. 2011CR1150 (Arapahoe Cnty. Ct.).] Concurrent with that notice, defendants ...


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