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Garcia v. Adams County

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 26, 2017

ALEXANDER GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
ADAMS COUNTY, COLORADO, a government entity, SHERIFF MICHAEL MCINTOSH, in his official and individual capacity, PHIL WAKEN, Adams County Sheriffs Sergeant, in his individual capacity, CHRISTOPHER LONG, Adams County Sheriffs Deputy, in his individual capacity, SCOTT DOW, Adams County Sheriffs Deputy, in his individual capacity, COOPER CRAMBLET, Adams County Sheriffs Deputy, in his individual capacity, CYNTHIA HILL, Adams County Sheriffs Deputy, in her individual capacity, KYLE SWING, Adams County Sheriffs Deputy, in his individual capacity MATTHEW MARQUEZ, Adams County Sheriffs Detective, in his individual capacity, and ROBERT HANNAH, Adams County Sheriffs Sergeant, in his/her individual capacity, Defendants.

          ORDER

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants “Adams County Colorado, ” Sheriff Michael McIntosh, and Detective Matthew Marquez' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [Docket No. 32]. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         This suit arises from the alleged unreasonable use of force against and malicious prosecution of plaintiff Alexander Garcia by employees of the Adams County Sheriff's Office. Docket No. 31.

         Beginning on April 13, 2015, plaintiff was held on pre-trial matters at the Adams County Detention Facility, which is operated by the Adams County Sheriff's Office. Docket No. 31 at 2-3, ¶¶ 2, 13.[2] Plaintiff alleges that he was twice subjected to unreasonable use of force while held at the detention facility. Id. at 3, ¶ 14.

         The first incident occurred on May 27, 2015. Docket No. 31 at 4, ¶ 15. W hile sitting in his wheelchair in the sally port in the B Module of the detention facility, plaintiff asked to see the facility's mental health staff. Id., ¶ 17-18. Plaintiff spoke first with defendant Deputy Scott Dow and second with Deputy Christopher Long. Id., ¶ 18. While plaintiff had his hands in his lap holding some papers, Deputy Long struck plaintiff in the left side of his neck, grabbed plaintiff's left arm, and pulled plaintiff out of his wheelchair. Id., ¶ 19-20. Deputy Dow and Deputy Cooper Cramblet also grabbed plaintiff and helped Deputy Long force him to the ground. Id., ¶ 21. The assault dislocated plaintiff's knee. Docket No. 31 at 5, ¶¶ 23-24. Additional deputies arrived at the sally port. Id. at 4, ¶ 22. Two of them threatened to Taser plaintiff. Id. at 5, ¶ 23. Plaintiff's hands were cuffed behind his back and he was carried away by his limbs to a holding cell. Id., ¶ 24. The events to this point were captured on surveillance video. Id. at 4, ¶ 16.

         At the holding cell, Sergeant Phil Waken ordered that plaintiff's handcuffs remain on and that plaintiff be left lying on the floor on his stomach. Docket No. 31 at 5, ¶ 25. Plaintiff was left in this position for approximately two hours and forty minutes, during which time he urinated on himself and suffered further injury due to the tightness of the handcuffs. Id., ¶ 26.

         On May 28, 2015, in relation to the previous day's events, defendant Detective Matthew Marquez completed an affidavit in support of plaintiff's arrest on two counts of Second Degree Assault on a Police Officer in violation of Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-3-203(1)(f) and 18-3-203(1)(c). Docket No. 31 at 6-7, ¶¶ 36, 40. Detective Marquez stated under oath that he reviewed the surveillance video and supplemental reports available to him before submitting the affidavit. Id. at 8, ¶ 43. The affidavit is inconsistent with the video and incorrectly states that Deputy Long was attempting to place handcuffs on plaintiff and that plaintiff punched Deputy Long in the face three times. Id. at 7-8, ¶ 41. For the most part, Detective Marquez' affidavit consists of one paragraph copied from the supplemental report of Deputy Dow. Id. at 7, ¶ 40. The district attorney relied on Detective Marquez' affidavit in charging plaintiff with assault on the prison officials. Id. at 6-8, ¶¶ 34, 42. On February 23, 2016, the charges against plaintiff were dismissed. Docket No. 31 at 8, ¶ 45.

         The second assault on plaintiff occurred on October 29, 2015 in the B Module sally port. Docket No. 31 at 5, ¶ 29. Deputy Cynthia Hill yelled for the inmates in the sally port to “shut the fuck up” and, when plaintiff admittedly failed to do so, she punched plaintiff in the arm. Id. at 6, ¶¶ 30-31. Deputy Hill, with help from Deputy Kyle Swing and Sergeant Robert Hannah, then slammed plaintiff against the wall, which hurt plaintiff's still-injured knee. Id., ¶ 32.

         On August 3, 2016, plaintiff filed his complaint. Docket No. 1. Plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the deputies for unreasonable use of force and against Detective Marquez for malicious prosecution. Docket No. 31 at 10-12. Plaintiff also brings § 1983 claims against Sheriff Michael McIntosh and Adams County for municipal and supervisory liability under the theory that the sheriff's deputies were improperly hired, trained, and supervised. Id. at 12-14. On February 7, 2017, defendants Marquez, McIntosh, and Adams County filed their motion to dismiss, requesting that the Court dismiss all of plaintiff's malicious prosecution and supervisory liability claims under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failing to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Docket No. 32 at 1-2.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must allege enough factual matter that, taken as true, makes the plaintiff's “claim to relief . . . plausible on its face.” Bryson v. Gonzales, 534 F.3d 1282, 1286 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (internal quotation marks and alteration marks omitted). Thus, even though modern rules of pleading are somewhat forgiving, “a complaint still must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory.” Bryson, 534 F.3d at 1286 (alteration marks omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Supervisory Liability and Municipal Liability Claims

         Local governments may not be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on a theory of respondeat superior. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 692 (1978). Instead, local governing bodies can be sued directly only where “the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers.” Id. at 690 (footnote omitted). “[I]t is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983.” Id. at 694.

         In order to state a claim for municipal liability under § 1983 for the actions of a municipal employee, a party must allege sufficient facts to demonstrate that it is plausible “(1) that a municipal employee committed a constitutional violation; and (2) that a municipal policy or custom was the moving force behind the constitutional deprivation.” Jiron v. City of Lakewood, 392 F.3d 410, 419 (10th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff must further show that “the policy was enacted or maintained with deliberate indifference to an almost inevitable constitutional injury.” Schneider v. City of Grand Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 769 (10th Cir. 2013). “The deliberate indifference standard may be satisfied when the municipality has actual or constructive notice that its action or failure to act is substantially certain to result in a constitutional violation, and it consciously or deliberately chooses to disregard the risk of harm.” Barney v. Pulsipher, 143 F.3d 1299, 1307 (10th ...


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