United States District Court, D. Colorado
Kristen L. Mix United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) [#13] (the “Motion”). Plaintiff, who is
proceeding pro se,  filed a Response [#21] in opposition to
the Motion, and Defendants filed a Reply [#22]. 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. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion
[#13] is GRANTED.
following allegations from the Amended Complaint [#6] are
accepted as true for the purpose of adjudicating the Motion
[#13]. See Barnes v. Harris, 783 F.3d
1185, 1191-92 (10th Cir. 2015). On January 28, 2018,
Plaintiff, her husband, and her daughter were driving home
when they were stopped because the car's passenger-side
headlight was out. Am. Compl. [#6] at 6. After the
stopping officer asked to see the husband's driver's
license, Defendants Reed, Mitchell, Gillespie, and Ericson
arrived on the scene. Id. For reasons not clear in
the Amended Complaint [#6], one unidentified Defendant
allegedly tried to pull Plaintiff's husband through the
driver-side window. Id. Afterward, Plaintiff
attempted to get out of the car, but an unidentified
Defendant closed the passenger-side door, catching
Plaintiff's leg in the process. Id. Plaintiff
does not allege any injury as a result of this incident.
in the car, Plaintiff alleges that she tried to have
Defendants Reed and Mitchell explain what was going on, but
Defendant Mitchell responded, “we will tell you in a
minute, ” then walked away. Id. Plaintiff
proceeded to step out of the car, through the driver's
side, and asked the arresting officer why her husband was
being arrested. Id. at 7. At this moment, Plaintiff
alleges that all four Defendants grabbed her, slammed her
against the car's backdoor window, and handcuffed her.
Id. In the process, Plaintiff alleges that the
officers injured her left arm, although the precise nature of
her injury is unclear. Id. Defendant Gillespie then
placed Plaintiff in one of the police cars and wrote a ticket
charging her with Obstructing a Public Servant pursuant to
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-8-104. Id. Plaintiff
allegedly continued to suffer from pain and weakness in her
arm at least until the date she filed her Amended Complaint
[#6] on July 9, 2018. Id. at 7.
filed her initial Complaint on June 7, 2018, alleging vague
and generalized constitutional violations against Defendants
and four other parties. See Compl. [#1] at 2.
However, pursuant to an Order to Dismiss in Part and Draw in
Part, all claims and parties except Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 Fourth Amendment excessive force claim against
these four Defendants in their individual and official
capacities have been dismissed. See Order
[#7] at 8. As a result of Defendants' alleged actions,
Plaintiff requests $75, 000 in compensatory damages and $75,
000 in punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
Am. Compl. [#6] at 10. Defendants filed the instant
Motion [#13] on September 17, 2018, seeking to dismiss
Plaintiff's excessive force claim pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the premise that they have qualified
immunity. Motion [#13] at 3.
Standard of Review
Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1)
matter jurisdiction may be challenged by a party or raised
sua sponte by the court at any point in the proceeding.
See, e.g., Am. Fire & Cas. Co. v. Finn,
341 U.S. 6, 16-19, (1951); Harris v. Illinois-California
Express, Inc., 687 F.2d 1361, 1366 (10th Cir. 1982);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Rule 12(b)(1) concerns whether the
Court has jurisdiction to properly hear the case before it.
Dismissal of a federal claim for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction “is proper only when the claim is
‘so insubstantial, implausible, foreclosed by prior
decisions of this Court, or otherwise completely devoid of
merit as not to involve a federal controversy.'”
Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523
U.S. 83, 89 (1998) (quoting Oneida Indian Nation v.
County of Oneida, 414 U.S. 661, 666 (1974)). Because
“federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,
” the Court must have a statutory basis to exercise its
jurisdiction. Montoya v. Chao, 296 F.3d 952, 955
(10th Cir. 2002); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1).
Statutes conferring subject-matter jurisdiction on federal
courts are to be strictly construed. F. & S. Const.
Co. v. Jensen, 337 F.2d 160, 161 (10th Cir. 1964).
“The burden of establishing subject-matter jurisdiction
is on the party asserting jurisdiction.” Id.
(citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am.,
511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)).
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, ” as required
by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (second
brackets added; citation and internal quotation marks