United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO
Brooke Jackson United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on defendant Adams County's
motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment; the City of Northglenn's similar motion; and
the City of Northglenn's motion regarding relocation of
the dog at issue in this case. ECF Nos. 52, 53, 62. The
motions to dismiss are granted, and the motion to relocate
the dog is moot.
Serena Campbell began living with her boyfriend, Richard
Jackson, and his dog, a male American Staffordshire Terrier
named Adolf (later renamed Baby). In August 2014 Ms. Campbell
moved out of the residence, but she still came by to take
care of Adolf. A month later, on September 11, 2014, Adolf
bit a mail carrier. Northglenn police officers responded to
the scene and told Ms. Campbell that Mr. Jackson may be
receiving a summons because of the dog attack. A week later,
Northglenn Police Department filed an application and
affidavit for an arrest warrant for Mr. Jackson for unlawful
ownership of a dangerous dog. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Jackson
and Ms. Campbell were arrested on unrelated charges, and
Adolf was placed in protective custody at the Adams County
Animal Shelter. The shelter refused to release Adolf.
February 2015 Ms. Campbell was notified that a hearing had
been scheduled regarding the disposition of Adolf. At the
hearing, the Northglenn Municipal Court heard testimony from
police officers and Ms. Campbell, and it ordered that Adolf
be destroyed. Ms. Campbell appealed to the Adams County
District Court, which affirmed the order. Ms. Campbell then
petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court for a writ of
certiorari, but it denied this petition on April 18, 2016.
weeks prior, on March 25, 2016, Ms. Campbell filed this civil
action. Her First Amended Complaint raises three claims for
relief: (1) violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Northglenn
because the city performed an illegal traffic stop and
detained her without probable cause, and subsequently acted
directly “through its Police Department, City
Attorney's Office and/or Municipal Court, ” or
indirectly by “approv[ing] or ratif[ying] the unlawful
deliberate disposition of property belonging to [Ms.
Campbell], ” i.e., Adolf, “without due
process”; (2) violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Adams County
because the county, “through its Animal Shelter”
or through “approv[al] or ratifi[cation], ”
unreasonably seized Adolf and failed to provide due process;
and (3) declaratory relief that the Northglenn Municipal Code
provision providing authority for Adolf's disposition
violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, that
Northglenn Municipal Court had no jurisdiction to hold a
disposition hearing to determine Adolf's fate, and that
Adolf should immediately be released from the Adams County
Shelter's custody. ECF No. 51 at 26-32.
County has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative,
a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 52. The City of
Northglenn has filed a similar motion. ECF No. 53. The
motions have been fully briefed. ECF Nos. 55, 56, 57, 58.
Northglenn has also filed an unopposed motion for approval to
relocate Adolf to an animal sanctuary pending the disposition
of this case. ECF No. 62.
survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must
contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). While the Court must
accept the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true
and construe them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, Robbins v. Wilkie, 300 F.3d 1208, 1210
(10th Cir. 2002), purely conclusory allegations are not
entitled to be presumed true, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 681 (2009). However, so long as the plaintiff
offers sufficient factual allegations such that the right to
relief is raised above the speculative level, he has met the
threshold pleading standard. See Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 556. “The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties
might present at trial, but to assess whether the
plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to
state a claim for which relief may be granted.”
Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1565 (10th Cir.
Court may grant summary judgment if “there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). The moving party has the burden to show that there is
an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325
(1986). The nonmoving party must “designate specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Id. at 324. A fact is material “if under the
substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of
the claim.” Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998). A material fact is
genuine if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The Court will examine the factual record and make
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
party opposing summary judgment. Concrete Works of Colo.,
Inc. v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1517
(10th Cir. 1994).
contend that Ms. Campbell has not correctly named defendant
the Board of County Commissioners of Adams County
(“BOCC”); Ms. Campbell's allegations are
insufficient to state a claim against BOCC; Ms.
Campbell's Monell claim based on a final
policymaker fails to state a claim against BOCC; the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives this Court of
subject matter jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the
Northglenn Municipal Court's order; and Ms. Campbell
cannot establish a Fourth Amendment violation because she did
not own Adolf when he was seized. ECF Nos. 52, 53. Although I
agree that BOCC was not correctly named as a defendant under
Colorado Revised Statutes § 30-11-105, I will focus my
discussion on the infirmities in Ms. Campbell's complaint
that cannot be corrected by further amendment.
Unreasonable Seizure: Traffic Stop.
Campbell alleges that “the City of Northglenn . . .
performed an illegal traffic stop of [her], and order [sic]
her out of her vehicle at gunpoint, and detain [sic] her all
without probable cause.” ECF No. 51 at ¶ 101. But
cities do not perform traffic stops; police officers do. Ms.