Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hall v. M. Cox

United States District Court, D. Colorado

July 10, 2019

NICHOLAS JASON HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
M.COX, SGT. LEACH, MATT ELBE, Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION ON MOTION TO PARTIALLY DISMISS THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT (#50)

          N. Reid Neureiter United States Magistrate Judge

         Presently before the Court is Defendants Sgt. Leach and Matt Elbe's Motion to Partially Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. #50), in which Sgt. Leach and Matt Elbe ask the Court to dismiss Plaintiff Nicholas Jason Hall's claims brought against them in their official capacities pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer referred the motion to me for recommendation on May 14, 2019. (Dkt. #52.) Having carefully considered the briefing, the record, the discussion at the June 27, 2019 Motions Hearing (see Dkt. #59), and the applicable law, the Court recommends that the motion be granted for the reasons discussed below.

         Background

         This case is brought by Mr. Hall, who is proceeding pro se, [1] relating to his treatment by staff at the Weld County Jail in Greeley, Colorado. Mr. Hall submitted his pro se Complaint alleging a violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. #1.) Upon review of his Prisoner Complaint by Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher, Mr. Hall was ordered to file a second amended complaint if he wanted to pursue his claims in this action. (Dkt. #27.) Mr. Hall submitted his Second Amended Complaint on March 1, 2019, (Dkt. #32) in which Mr. Hall states that his right to practice his “sincerely held religious beliefs was violated by Matt Elbe in the month of May 2017.” Mr. Hall alleges:

I was denied a Qu'ran and was not allowed to observe Ramadan. Since my incarceration at the Weld County Jail I have been denied the opportunity to atten[d] Ju'mah and have been denied access to an Imam. The right to practice my sincerely held religious beliefs is protected by the 1st amendment and the free exercise clause. I was also denied access to halal meals. Matt Elbe is in charge of the issuance of religious material, diets, and clergy.

(Dkt. #32 at 6). With respect to Sergeant Leach, Mr. Hall alleges that his

right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated when Sgt. Leach self admittedly struck me about the head, face, neck, and arms over 25 times. This excessive force was unprovoked and not necessary. This occurred in September 2017. My right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment by means of excessive force is protected by the 8th amendment.

(Dkt. #32 at 7).

         Defendants submitted their Motion to Dismiss on May 14, 2019. (Dkt. #50.) Defendants state that Mr. Hall's Second Amended Complaint is ambiguous as to whether the claims are asserted against them solely in their individual capacity or in both their individual and official capacities, but assume the claims are asserted against them in their official capacities and seek dismissal of the official capacity claims. While Mr. Hall did not file a response specifically in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, he filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on May 18, 2019 (Dkt. #54) in which he asked the court to deny the Motion to Dismiss.[2]

         “[A] district court may not grant a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim merely because [a party] failed to file a response.” Issa v. Comp USA, 354 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “This is consistent with the purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) motions as the purpose of such motions is to test the sufficiency of the allegations within the four corners of the complaint after taking those allegations as true.” Id. at 1177-78. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). “Consequently, even if a plaintiff does not file a response to a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the district court must still examine the allegations in the plaintiff's complaint and determine whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Id.

         Sergeant Leach and Lieutenant Elbe are officers employed by the Weld County Sherriff's Office and seek dismissal of the claims made against each of them in their official capacity. Official capacity claims are, in effect, claims against the individual's governmental employer - in this case, Weld County. Specifically, Lt. Elbe seeks dismissal of the claim asserted against him for an alleged violation of Mr. Hall's right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Sgt. Leach seeks dismissal of the claim against him for alleged use of excessive force in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Defendants argue dismissal is warranted because Mr. Hall failed to allege in his Second Amended Complaint that any policy or custom of Weld County resulted in his alleged injuries.

         Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits the Court to dismiss for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.