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Masad v. Nanney

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 27, 2014

ABDUL MUNER MASAD, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT NANNEY, individually and in his capacity as Deputy Sheriff for Adams County, Colorado; PHILLIP MEANEY, individually and in his capacity as Deputy Sheriff for Adams County, Colorado; DOUGLAS DARR, individually and in his capacity as Sheriff of Adams County, Colorado; and ADAMS COUNTY, COLORADO, Defendants.

ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (Docket No. 14)

MICHAEL J. WATANABE, Magistrate Judge.

According to his Complaint, Abdul Muner Masad was arrested for no good reason, with bail set at an abnormally and unreasonably high level due to fibs told by the arresting officers. The ordeal, he says, caused him embarrassment, financial losses, and medical deprivation. The charges were later dropped, and he has now sued the arresting officers and their employers (Adams County, Colorado and its sheriff) for damages. The Defendants have moved to dismiss all of Masad's claims under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (Docket No. 14).

The parties have consented to have this case resolved in its entirety by a magistrate judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) (Docket Nos. 15, 18). The Court will dismiss Masad's claims. In his objection to Defendants' motion, Masad suggested that he instead be allowed to amend his complaint; the Court concludes, however, that amendments would be futile.

Masad's Legal Claims

To determine whether Masad has stated any claims upon which relief can be granted, the Court must first figure out what his claims are. Masad is represented by counsel-but nonetheless, the Complaint is not as helpful on this point as it might be.

Under the heading of "First Claim for Relief, " Masad alleges that he was falsely arrested by Deputy Robert Nanney (one of the Defendants). The legal theory is not otherwise explained, but this would appear to be a state-law tort claim.

Under the heading of "Second Claim for Relief, " Masad alleges that he "was denied his constitutional rights to be free of unlawful arrest and free from excessive bail" and that he "was denied his rights to liberty and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment." The allegations under this heading refer to three Defendants: Deputy Nanney, Deputy Phillip Meaney, and Sheriff Douglas Darr. Masad goes on to allege, later under this same heading, that the Defendants' "conduct violates [Masad's] rights as guaranteed by Article II, Section III, VII, XX and XXV of the Colorado Constitution and the 4th, 5th, 8th, 11th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution."

That laundry list of legal citations would ordinarily be far too sweeping to be of any use, but Plaintiff has agreed to dismiss any claims based on the Colorado Constitution or the Eleventh Amendment (Docket No. 21, at 5, 13). The Court therefore DISMISSES those claims without further analysis. Further, to the extent Masad asserts a procedural or substantive due process claim under the Fifth or Fourteenth Amendments, the Court DISMISSES those claims as duplicative. See Shimomura v. Carlson, ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2014 WL 585343, at *5 (D. Colo. 2014) ("[W]here a particular Amendment provides an explicit textual source of constitutional protection against a particular sort of government behavior, that Amendment, not the more generalized notion of [] due process, must be the guide for analyzing these claims.'" (quoting Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 273 (1994))).

Viewing the remaining legal authorities in light of Masad's more specific allegations, the Court will construe Masad's claims as: (1) false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments[1]; (3) and excessive bail in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Under the heading of "Third Claim for Relief, " Masad alleges negligent hiring by Sheriff Darr and by Adams County, arguing that those Defendants' hiring practices led to unlawful conduct by Deputies Nanney and Meaney. As with the first claim for relief, this is a state-law tort claim. However, the State of Colorado has not waived its sovereign immunity as to such claims. Kahland v. Villareal, 155 P.3d 491 (Colo.App. 2006) (holding that negligent hiring is not among the torts that can be brought against a public entity or public employee under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act); Riley v. Rollison, 2007 WL 324579, at *4 (D. Colo. Jan. 31, 2007) (same). The Court therefore DISMISSES these claims without further analysis.

Under the heading of "Fourth Claim for Relief, " Masad apparently alleges a municipal-liability claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Adams County and against Sheriff Darr in his official capacity.

Finally, under the heading "Fifth Claim for Relief, " Masad alleges that Deputies Nanney and Meaney used Masad's national origin, race, and religion against him at the bail hearing. No other allegations are made, and no attempt is made to connect this statement to some variety of equal protection or disparate treatment claim. The allegations here would appear to relate only to the excessive-bail claim, and the Court will discuss them in that context.[2]

Analysis

Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept the facts Masad alleged in the Complaint as true; further, if there are inferences that must be drawn, the Court must draw them in Masad's favor. Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1183 (10th Cir. 2010). Only factual allegations are to be accepted as true; allegations of legal conclusions-for example, that conduct was "unreasonable, " "negligent, " "willful and wanton, " and the like-are not included in the Court's analysis. Kansas Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1214 (10th Cir. 2011). Generally speaking, only the Complaint is to be considered; facts and documents that the parties have brought forward while briefing the motion to dismiss usually have no bearing on the motion. See ...


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