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Arnold v. Gonzalez

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 10, 2019

MICHAEL ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
v.
DEAN GONZALEZ, NADIA GATCHELL, and WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF JON STIVERS, Defendants.

          ORDER

          KATHLEEN M. TAFOYA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on the following motions:

         1. “CDOC Parole Officer Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)” (Doc. No. 37 [Parole Officers' Mot.], filed February 1, 2019), to which Plaintiff responded (Doc. No. 42 [Resp. Parole Officers' Mot.], filed February 22, 2019) and the Parole Officers replied (Doc. No. 45 [Parole Officers' Reply], filed March 5, 2019); and

         2. “Defendant Washington County Sheriff John Stivers' Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint (Doc. # 36)” (Doc. No. 38 [Stivers' Mot. Dismiss], filed February 5, 2019), to which Plaintiff responded (Doc. No. 44 [Resp. Stivers' Mot.], filed February 26, 2019) and Defendant Stivers replied (Doc. No. 46 [Stivers' Reply], filed March 12, 2019).

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         Plaintiff states that Defendant Dean Gonzalez was his Parole Officer in September 2016; Defendant Nadia Gatchell was his Parole Officer in October 2016, during Plaintiff's detention in the Washington County Jail from October 19, 2016, through December 21, 2016, and after his release from the Washington County Jail; and Defendant John Stivers, is the Washington County Sheriff who operated the Washington County Jail from October 19, 2016 to December 21, 2016. (Doc. No. 36 [Second Am. Compl.], ¶¶ 2-4.)

         In the first week of September 2016, Plaintiff injured his right foot and was seen at Lutheran Medical Hospital and scheduled to return for casting of the foot. (Id., ¶ 6.) Before the casting, Plaintiff alleges he was “subjected by Defendant Gonzales to a short term detention pursuant to the Sure and Swift Program of the Colorado Department of Corrections” (“CDOC”). (Id., ¶ 7.) The Sure and Swift Program allows a detention of one to five days as a sanction for minor violations of parole rules. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges he advised Defendant Gonzalez of his pending appointment for the cast placement, and Defendant Gonzalez promised to arrange for Plaintiff to be released for the appointment. (Id., ¶ 8.) Despite this promise, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Gonzalez failed to make arrangements for Plaintiff to attend the appointment. (Id.)

         Upon his release, Plaintiff went to the Lutheran Medical Center and obtained another appointment for the cast placement. (Id.) Plaintiff then went to check in with Defendant Gonzalez, who again placed Plaintiff in the Denver County Jail pursuant to the Sure and Swift Program. (Id.) Again, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Gonzalez promised and yet failed to arrange for Plaintiff to attend the rescheduled cast placement appointment. (Id., ¶ 9.)

         When Plaintiff was released from the second Sure and Swift incarceration, Plaintiff was assigned a new Parole Officer, Defendant Gatchell. (Id., ¶ 10.) Plaintiff alleges that, during his first visit with Defendant Gatchell, she falsely accused Plaintiff of missing an appearance and changing his address without permission. (Id.) Defendant Gatchell arrested Plaintiff, placed him in jail, charged him with a parole violation, and commenced a proceeding for a 90-day turnaround. (Id.) Plaintiff was sent to the Washington County Jail on October 19, 2016. (Id., ¶ 11.)

         Plaintiff alleges the medical unit of the Washington County Jail learned from Plaintiff's intake evaluation that he had a serious medical need which required specialized care and that the delay in treatment caused him severe discomfort and progressive worsening of his condition. (Id., ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges that, despite this knowledge, the Washington County Jail refused to arrange for medical treatment, other than providing Tylenol. (Id., ¶ 12.) Plaintiff submitted grievances, and the responses to the grievances advised Plaintiff that Defendant Stivers had a policy that prevented the Washington County Jail staff from providing care for injuries suffered to detainees prior to becoming inmates at the jail. (Id., ¶ 15.)

         Plaintiff states he was in the Washington County Jail for 55 days, and when he was released, he again met with Defendant Gatchell at Plaintiff's aunt's home. (Id., ¶¶ 17-18.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant Gatchell again arrested him on a false charge and placed him in the Denver County Jail. (Id., ¶ 18.) Plaintiff states Defendant Gatchell again instituted a 90-day turnaround proceeding, and Plaintiff spent 30 days at the Douglas County Jail and 60 days at the Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center. (Id.) Plaintiff states Defendant Gatchell failed to arrange for care for his foot during this time. (Id., ¶ 20.)

         Plaintiff sues the defendants in only their individual capacities, asserting one claim for cruel and unusual punishment, seeking actual and punitive damages. (See id., ¶ 5; at 7.) Defendants move to dismiss the claims in their entirety. (See Parole Officers' Mot.; Stivers' Mot.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a defendant may move to dismiss a claim for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “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.” Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1201 (10th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks omitted).

         “A court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint presumes all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility, in the context of a motion to dismiss, means that the plaintiff pleaded facts which allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The Iqbal evaluation requires two prongs of analysis. First, the court identifies “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” that is, those allegations which are legal conclusion, bare assertions, or merely conclusory. Id. at 679-81. Second, the Court considers the factual allegations “to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Id. at 681. If the allegations state a plausible claim for relief, such claim survives the motion to dismiss. Id. at 679.

         Notwithstanding, the court need not accept conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments. S. Disposal, Inc., v. Texas Waste, 161 F.3d 1259, 1262 (10th Cir. 1998). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S at 678. Moreover, “[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does the complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.' ” Id. (citation omitted). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.' ” Id. (citation omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         A. Judicial Notice of Documents

         At the outset, the court notes that Defendant Stivers urges the court to take judicial notice of several exhibits attached to his Motion to Dismiss. (Stivers' Mot. at 6, n.1; 7-9.) First, Defendant Stivers attaches a medical agreement signed by Plaintiff upon his arrival at the Washington County Jail. (Stivers' Mot. at 5-6, Ex. A.) Defendant Stivers claims this is a a “governmental document[]” of which the court may take judicial notice. (Id. at 6, n.1.) A court can take judicial notice of government documents or records of prior litigation under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, as long as the litigation is directly or closely related to the case at hand. United States v. Ahidley, 486 F.3d 1184, 1192 n.5 (10th Cir. 2007) (“Although we are not obliged to do so, we may exercise our discretion to take judicial notice of publicly-filed records in our court and certain other ...


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