United States District Court, D. Colorado
NICOL NOWLIN, as personal representative of the Estate of Michael Craven, Plaintiff,
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF THE COUNTY OF ARAPAHOE, COLORADO, DAVID C. WALCHER, Sheriff of Arapahoe County, in his official capacity, LOUIE PEREA, Undersheriff of Arapahoe County, in his official capacity, VINCE LINE, Bureau Chief, Detention Administration, in his individual and official capacities, LAURIE HALABA, Captain, Detention Administration, in her individual capacity, JARED ROWLISON, Captain, Detention Operations, in his individual capacity, DAVID AXELROD, Detention Operation Technician, in his individual capacity, WILLIAM RIVAS, Deputy, in his individual capacity, B.J. BEATTY, Deputy, in his individual capacity, MOLLY NILL, Deputy, in her individual capacity, GEOFFREY MAISCH, Sergeant, in his individual capacity, and TRENT STEFFA, Sergeant, in his individual capacity, Defendants.
KRISTEN L. MIX UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss [#7] (the
“Motion”). Plaintiff filed a Response [#13] in
opposition to the Motion, and Defendants filed a Reply [#21].
The Court has reviewed the Motion, the Response, the Reply,
the entire case file, and the applicable law, and is
sufficiently advised in the premises. Based on the following,
the Motion [#7] is GRANTED.
claims are based on the following allegations. In September
2015, Eric Stewart (“Stewart”) was incarcerated
at the Arapahoe County Detention Facility in Arapahoe County,
Colorado, awaiting trial on multiple offenses, including
attempted murder, a charge which stemmed from a domestic
dispute in which Mr. Stewart fired a gun at his girlfriend.
Compl. [#1] ¶ 13. Mr. Stewart's trial was
scheduled to begin on September 14, 2015, in the District
Court for the County of Arapahoe. Id. ¶ 14.
However, when Mr. Stewart appeared for trial, he displayed
signs of a severe emotional or cognitive disturbance,
including stating that he was hearing voices, which prevented
him from participating meaningfully in the judicial process.
Id. ¶ 15. Based on this behavior, the presiding
judge vacated the trial and remanded Mr. Stewart into custody
for a mental health and competency evaluation at the Colorado
Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, Colorado. Id.
Stewart was returned to the general population of the
Arapahoe County Detention Facility, a situation which was
expected to continue until space opened up in the overcrowded
Pueblo facility. Id. ¶ 16. Mr. Stewart was not
isolated from other inmates and was not supervised
intensively, despite the concerns about his mental health.
Id. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Vince Line
(“Line”) (Bureau Chief, Detention
Administration), Defendant Laurie Halaba
(“Halaba”) (Captain, Detention Administration),
and/or Defendant Jared Rowlison (“Rowlison”)
(Captain, Detention Operations) knew of Mr. Stewart's
condition, asserted mental instability and purported violent
propensity, but that these Defendants, and/or personnel
acting at the direction of these Defendants, allowed Mr.
Stewart to remain among the general jail population.
Id. ¶ 17.
afternoon of October 2, 2015, there were approximately
thirty-eight inmates present, unsupervised and unrestrained,
in Dayroom A of Pod 3 of the Detention Facility. Id.
¶ 18. No Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office personnel
were present in Dayroom A at the time. Id. The
Dayroom was equipped with surveillance cameras, but no
personnel were actively monitoring the live feed.
Id. This particular Dayroom had been the scene of
multiple prior physical altercations and fights between
inmates, at least some of which resulted in injuries to
inmates. Id. ¶ 19. Despite these incidents, no
steps had been taken prior to October 2, 2015, to increase
monitoring or security in the Dayroom or to reduce the number
of inmates who could occupy the day room at one time.
the inmates present in Dayroom A of Pod 3 that afternoon was
Michael Craven (“Craven”), who was serving a jail
sentence for second degree assault and other offenses.
Id. ¶ 12. At approximately 2:30 p.m., Mr.
Stewart claimed a pot of hot water which allegedly should
have been Mr. Craven's, and the two argued. Id.
¶ 20. Shortly after, Mr. Craven went upstairs to Mr.
Stewart's cell to further discuss the issue. Id.
¶ 21. Although Mr. Craven's movements were not
violent, Mr. Stewart viciously attacked Mr. Craven in
response. Id. ¶ 22. Mr. Craven attempted to
escape into the hallway, but Mr. Stewart chased him there,
tackled him, slammed him into the ground, and began to beat
him about the head, face, and neck. Id. After
approximately forty-six seconds, Mr. Steward stopped beating
Mr. Craven and got off of him. Id. ¶ 23. Mr.
Stewart went back downstairs to the table at which he had
been previously seated. Id. ¶ 24. Two inmates
then emerged from the area of Cell 3A5 and pulled Mr. Craven
into his cell, cell 3A2, and other inmates went upstairs to
check on his condition. Id.
attack was caught on camera and caused a substantial audible
disturbance, but despite the event's broadcast to the
control room, no Arapahoe County Detention Facility personnel
responded for nearly ten minutes after the attack.
Id. Defendant William Rivas (“Rivas”),
Defendant B.J. Beatty (“Beatty”), Defendant Molly
Nill (“Nill”), Defendant Geoffrey Maisch
(“Maisch”), and Defendant Trent Steffa
(“Steffa”) were on-duty in Pod 3 and were
responsible for responding to any disturbances that occurred
in Dayroom A. Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff asserts that
“these Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the
risk that failure to provide visible security or actively
monitor a Dayroom with more than 35 inmates, including
violent and unstable inmates like Mr. Stewart, would result
in a violent incident.” Id. They did not see
or hear the attack on Mr. Craven as it was occurring and did
not respond to break up the altercation or ensure the rapid
deployment of medical personnel. Id. Defendant David
Axelrod (“Axelrod”) was responsible for
monitoring security cameras depicting events taking place in
Dayroom A of Pod 3, and Plaintiff asserts that
“Defendant Axelrod was deliberately indifferent to the
risk [of] failing to monitor the security cameras depicting
events in Dayroom A, even though Dayroom A contained more
than 35 inmates, including violent and unstable inmates like
Mr. Stewart.” Id. ¶ 26. Defendant Axelrod
did not see the attack on Mr. Craven as it was happening, did
not act to deploy deputies to stop the altercation, and did
not summon medical attention promptly. Id.
ten minutes after the attack, Mr. Craven's cell mate
Samson Pacheco entered Cell 3A2 and utilized the intercom to
summon assistance. Id. ¶ 27. Defendant Axelrod
received the alert and asked Defendant Rivas to enter Dayroom
A in response to the alarm. Id. ¶ 28. Defendant
Rivas found an unresponsive Mr. Craven lying on his back in
cell 3A2 with visible, severe injuries to his face and head
and with glazed-over and dark eyes. Id. ¶ 29.
Multiple additional deputies responded to the scene and began
performing CPR on Mr. Craven. Id. ¶ 30. He was
thereafter transported by ambulance to Sky Ridge Medical
Center and placed on life support. Id. ¶ 31. He
was pronounced dead on October 3, 2015, at approximately 5:07
a.m., having died of multiple traumatic blunt force injuries.
Id. ¶¶ 32-33. During the subsequent
investigation, Mr. Stewart indicated to the investigators
that voices in his head had told him to attack Mr. Craven.
Id. ¶ 34.
is the Estate of Michael Craven, by and through its personal
representative Nicol Nowlin. Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff
asserts two claims here: (1) an Eighth Amendment Claim for
deliberate indifference against all Defendants, and (2) a
Monell claim against Defendant Line, Defendant David
C. Walcher (“Walcher”) (Sheriff of Arapahoe
County), Defendant Louie Perea (“Perea”)
(Undersheriff of Arapahoe County), and Defendant Board of
County Commissioners of the County of Arapahoe, Colorado
(“BOCC”). Id. ¶¶ 35-48.
Plaintiff seeks only damages. Id. at 11. In the
present Motion [#7], Defendants seek dismissal of all claims
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is
to test “the sufficiency of the allegations within the
four corners of the complaint after taking those allegations
as true.” Mobley v. McCormick, 40 F.3d 337,
340 (10th Cir. 1994); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (stating that a
complaint may be dismissed for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted”). “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.” Sutton v. Utah State Sch. for the
Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 1999)
(citation omitted). To withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain enough
allegations of fact to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.” Robbins v. Oklahoma,
519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007));
see also Shero v. City of Grove, Okla., 510 F.3d
1196, 1200 (10th Cir. 2007) (“The complaint must plead
sufficient facts, taken as true, to provide ‘plausible
grounds' that discovery will reveal evidence to support
the plaintiff's allegations.” (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)).
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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). “A pleading that offers labels and conclusions
or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual
enhancement.” Id. (brackets in original;
internal quotation marks omitted).
survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the
factual allegations in the complaint “must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Christy Sports, LLC v. Deer Valley Resort Co., 555
F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2009). “[W]here the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, ” a factual
allegation has been stated, “but it has not show[n] [ ]
that the pleader is entitled to relief, ...