Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cnty. Adult Det. Ctr., No. CIV 16-0765 JB/KRS

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
Writing for the CourtJames O. Browning, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Citation331 F.Supp.3d 1260
Decision Date30 August 2018
Docket NumberNo. CIV 16-0765 JB/KRS
Parties Leroy MANZANARES, Plaintiff, v. ROOSEVELT COUNTY ADULT DETENTION CENTER; Board of Commissioners of the County of Roosevelt; Eddy County Detention Center ; Board of Commissioners of the County of Eddy; Senovio Mendoza, Jr.; John and Jane Doe Detention officers of the Roosevelt County Detention Center; John Does 1-X; Jane Does 1-X; Black and White Corporations; Larry Phillips; Charlene Webb; John Doe; Jane Doe; Billy Massingill ; John Doe and Jane Doe Defendants.

331 F.Supp.3d 1260

Leroy MANZANARES, Plaintiff,
v.
ROOSEVELT COUNTY ADULT DETENTION CENTER; Board of Commissioners of the County of Roosevelt; Eddy County Detention Center ; Board of Commissioners of the County of Eddy; Senovio Mendoza, Jr.; John and Jane Doe Detention officers of the Roosevelt County Detention Center; John Does 1-X; Jane Does 1-X; Black and White Corporations; Larry Phillips; Charlene Webb; John Doe; Jane Doe; Billy Massingill ; John Doe and Jane Doe Defendants.

No. CIV 16-0765 JB/KRS

United States District Court, D. New Mexico.

Filed August 30, 2018


331 F.Supp.3d 1270

Joseph M. Zebas, Zebas Law Firm L.L.C., Hobbs, New Mexico, Attorney for the Plaintiff

Scott P. Hatcher, Hatcher Law Group P.A., Santa Fe, New Mexico, Attorney for Defendants Board of Commissioners of the County of Roosevelt, Larry Phillips, and Charlene Webb

Jonlyn M. Martinez, Law Firm of Jonyln M. Martinez, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Attorney for Defendants Eddy County Detention Center, Board of Commissioners of the County of Eddy, and Billy Massingill

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND AMENDED ORDER 1

James O. Browning, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

331 F.Supp.3d 1271

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on: (i) Defendant Board of Commissioners of the County of Eddy's Amended Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint and Memorandum in Support Thereof, filed November 22, 2016 (Doc. 9)("EC Motion"); (ii) the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on Behalf of Board of Commissioners of the County of Roosevelt, Larry Phillips, and Charlene Webb, filed December 2, 2016 (Doc. 10)("RC Motion"); (iii) Defendant Massingill's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Based in part on Qualified Immunity and Memorandum in Support Thereof, filed April 12, 2017 (Doc. 24)("Massingill Motion"); and (iv) the Amended Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on Behalf of Board of Commissioners of the County of Roosevelt, Larry Phillips, and Charlene Webb, filed May 5, 2017 (Doc. 33)("Amended RC Motion"). The Court held a hearing on September 22, 2017. The primary issues are: (i) whether Defendants Eddy County Detention Center and Roosevelt County Adult Detention Center may be properly sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ; (ii) whether Defendant Board of Commissioners of the County of Eddy violated Plaintiff Leroy Manzanares' due process rights when a purported policy it had led to an inmate attacking Manzanares with a pickaxe; (iii) whether Defendant Board of Commissioners of the County of Roosevelt violated Manzanares' due process rights on a similar theory; (iv) whether Defendants Larry Phillips, Charlene Webbs, and Billy Massingill, as decisionmakers at Roosevelt County Detention and Eddy County Detention, are liable under due process for the same conduct; and (v) whether the Court should dismiss Manzanares' state claims. The Court concludes: (i) Eddy County Detention and Roosevelt County Detention are not persons, so cannot be sued under § 1983 ; (ii) Eddy County's purported policy does not shock the conscience,

331 F.Supp.3d 1272

so there is no due process violation; (iii) Roosevelt County's purported policy likewise does not shock the conscience; (iv) Manzanares' allegations against Phillips, Webb, and Massingill are conclusory, but even if they were not, there is no due process violation and they are entitled to qualified immunity; and, (v) with no remaining federal claims, the Court will dismiss the remaining state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) ("[T]he district courts may decline to exercise jurisdiction [if] ... the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction."). The Court, accordingly, grants in part and denies in part the requests in the EC Motion, the RC Motion, the Massingill Motion, and the Amended RC Motion. The Court dismisses the Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, filed November 11, 2016 (Doc. 5)("FAC" or "Amended Complaint"), without prejudice.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The Court takes its facts from the Amended Complaint. The Court accepts its factual allegations as true for the purposes of a motion to dismiss. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ; Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (" Twombly"). The Court does not, however, accept as true the legal conclusions within the FAC. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ("[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.").

Manzanares is a Roosevelt County employee and groundskeeper. See FAC ¶ 18, at 4; id. ¶ 21, at 5. On July 2, 2014, Manzanares was doing maintenance on the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds, when Roosevelt County Detention lent Manzanares an inmate -- Defendant Senovio Mendoza -- to aid Manzanares in his work. See FAC ¶ 19, at 5. Manzanares, as someone with no connection to Roosevelt County Detention, believed that such a facility would provide only "non-violent offender[s]" to aid him in his job. FAC ¶ 21, at 5. To the contrary, however, Mendoza had a history of violence and also faced first-degree murder charges. See FAC ¶¶ 20, 22 at 5. Indeed, according to the criminal complaint pending against Mendoza, Mendoza had impersonated a Drug Task Force Agent, broke into a drug dealer's home, and, moments after forcing that drug dealer to the floor, executed him with a bullet to the head. See FAC ¶ 29, at 6. Mendoza had also previously been convicted of armed robbery, aggravated battery, and had "violently beat another inmate" over a television. FAC ¶ 34, at 7. See id. ¶ 43, at 8. Roosevelt County Detention did not tell Manzanares any of those facts. See FAC ¶¶ 20, at 5.

At some point while aiding Manzanares, Mendoza acquired a pickaxe and attacked Manzanares, "splitting part of his head open, instantly knocking him unconscious." FAC ¶ 23, at 5. Mendoza then stole a vehicle and sped away, leaving Manzanares for dead. See FAC ¶ 23, at 5. Manzanares survived but sustained an extensive head injury. See FAC ¶¶ 24, 37, 39, at 5, 7.

Before the pickaxe attack, Mendoza was housed at Eddy County Detention. See FAC ¶ 25, at 5. Eddy County Detention and Roosevelt County Detention maintain a detainee transfer agreement should one of the detention centers become overcrowded, but transfers between the two facilities are allowed only if the offender is non-violent. See FAC ¶¶ 26, 30 at 6. Despite this limitation, Eddy County Detention transferred Mendoza to Roosevelt County Detention. See FAC ¶ 25, at 5. In executing that transfer, Eddy County Detention knew of Mendoza's history and pending criminal charges but misrepresented those details to Roosevelt County Detention telling that facility that "Mendoza was merely a murder witness and not a murder suspect." FAC ¶ 28, at 6. See id. ¶ 27, at 6.

331 F.Supp.3d 1273

Although Eddy County Detention misrepresented Mendoza's history to Roosevelt County Detention, Roosevelt County Detention "should have done a background check" on Mendoza before accepting him. FAC ¶ 31, at 6. Roosevelt County Detention did not perform that background check, however. See FAC ¶¶ 31-32, at 6-7. Such a background check would have revealed that Mendoza had previously attacked another inmate and, thus, that Mendoza was a threat to society not fit for a work assignment on the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds. See FAC ¶¶ 34-35, 42, 44 at 7-9.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Manzanares sues, asserting negligence and that the Defendants violated his substantive due process rights. See FAC ¶¶ 60-80, at 12-15. On due process, he contends that the Defendants acted arbitrarily and capriciously, depriving him of the guarantee that he will not be deprived of life, liberty, or property. See FAC ¶ 61, at 12. He also contends that the Defendants failed to train their penitentiary personnel, and that they knew or should have known that Mendoza should not have been transferred to Roosevelt County Detention or assigned to help Manzanares on the Fairgrounds. See FAC ¶¶ 62-65, 68-70, at 12-14. Finally, he asserts that Eddy County Detention has a policy, practice, or custom of "dumping unwanted inmates onto other detention facilities" regardless of those inmates' safety classifications and Roosevelt County Detention was aware of that practice, but did nothing to stop it. FAC ¶ 66, at 13. See id. ¶ 67, at 13. On negligence, he argues that the Defendants owed a duty to Manzanares and breached that duty for failing to properly classify Mendoza, resulting in Manzanares' injuries. See ¶¶ 72-80, at 14-15.

1. The EC Motion.

Eddy County moves to dismiss. See EC Motion at 1. First, it argues that the Court should dismiss the FAC's claims against Eddy County Detention, because "governmental subunits," such as detention centers, "are not properly suable entities in § 1983 actions." EC Motion at 1, n.1 (citing Martinez v. Winner, 771 F.2d 424, 444 (10th Cir. 1985) ). Eddy County asserts, moreover, that it cannot be liable for any conduct, because Manzanares asserts no constitutional violation and no county policy that "was the moving force behind the violation." EC Motion at 6 ("Indeed, it appears that the actions complained of would not be as...

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    ...officers, ” Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1162 (Sotomayor, J. dissenting). Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cnty. Adult Detention Center, 331 F.Supp.3d 1260, 1294 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018)(Browning, J.). [19]Professor Colin Miller of the University of South Carolina School of Law notes that there are only......
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    ...officers," Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S. Ct. at 1162 (Sotomayor, J. dissenting).Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cnty. Adult Detention Center, 331 F. Supp.3d 1260, 1294 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018)(Browning, J.). 115. Professor Colin Miller of the University of South Carolina School of Law notes that there are onl......
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    ...of contemporary immunity jurisprudence and its ‘real world implementation.’ "); Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cty. Adult Detention Ctr. , 331 F. Supp. 3d 1260, 1293–94 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018) (critiquing the Supreme Court's application of qualified immunity in many respects, among them the application......
  • Parsons v. Velasquez, No. CIV 20-0074 JB/KK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 30, 2021
    ...officers," Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S. Ct. at 1162 (Sotomayor, J. dissenting).Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cnty. Adult Detention Center, 331 F. Supp.3d 1260, 1294 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018)(Browning, J.). 138. Professor Colin Miller of the University of South Carolina School of Law notes that there are onl......
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12 cases
  • Rosales v. Bradshaw, CIV 20-0751 JB/JHR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • November 17, 2021
    ...officers, ” Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1162 (Sotomayor, J. dissenting). Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cnty. Adult Detention Center, 331 F.Supp.3d 1260, 1294 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018)(Browning, J.). [19]Professor Colin Miller of the University of South Carolina School of Law notes that there are only......
  • Ortiz v. New Mexico, No. CIV 18-0028 JB/LF
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 22, 2021
    ...officers," Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S. Ct. at 1162 (Sotomayor, J. dissenting).Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cnty. Adult Detention Center, 331 F. Supp.3d 1260, 1294 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018)(Browning, J.). 115. Professor Colin Miller of the University of South Carolina School of Law notes that there are onl......
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    • United States
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    ...of contemporary immunity jurisprudence and its ‘real world implementation.’ "); Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cty. Adult Detention Ctr. , 331 F. Supp. 3d 1260, 1293–94 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018) (critiquing the Supreme Court's application of qualified immunity in many respects, among them the application......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
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    ...officers," Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S. Ct. at 1162 (Sotomayor, J. dissenting).Manzanares v. Roosevelt Cnty. Adult Detention Center, 331 F. Supp.3d 1260, 1294 n.10 (D.N.M. 2018)(Browning, J.). 138. Professor Colin Miller of the University of South Carolina School of Law notes that there are onl......
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