Saldivar v. Racine, No. 15–1448.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBARRON, Circuit Judge.
Citation818 F.3d 14
Parties Elba SALDIVAR, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. Daniel RACINE; The City of Fall River, Defendants, Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 15–1448.
Decision Date25 March 2016

818 F.3d 14

Elba SALDIVAR, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
Daniel RACINE; The City of Fall River, Defendants, Appellees.

No. 15–1448.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

March 25, 2016.


818 F.3d 16

Edward J. McCormick, III, with whom McCormick & Maitland was on brief, for appellant.

Andrew J. Gambaccini, with whom Reardon, Joyce & Akerson, P.C. was on brief, for appellee Daniel Racine.

Gary P. Howayeck, Office of the Corporation Counsel, City of Fall River, for appellee the City of Fall River.

Before KAYATTA, STAHL, and BARRON, Circuit Judges.

BARRON, Circuit Judge.

Elba Saldivar appeals the dismissal of her federal civil rights and state law negligence claims against the City of Fall River, Massachusetts, and Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine. The District Court dismissed those claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. We affirm.

I.

The allegations set forth in Saldivar's complaint1 are very disturbing. As we are reviewing a dismissal for failure to state a claim, we accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of Saldivar. See Gargano v. Liberty Int'l Underwriters, Inc., 572 F.3d 45, 48 (1st Cir.2009). So read, the complaint offers the following account.

In early June 2011, Elba Saldivar, a resident of Fall River, contacted the Fall River Police Department and reported that her child had been harassed at school. The Police Department assigned Officer Anthony Pridgen to investigate the incident.

Pridgen arrived at Saldivar's apartment in his marked police cruiser and in full uniform and told Saldivar he needed to question her as part of his investigation. Saldivar allowed Pridgen into her apartment.

Upon entering the apartment, Pridgen pulled out his service handgun and pointed it at Saldivar. He then grabbed Saldivar and assaulted, battered, and raped her. He told Saldivar he would kill her and her children if she reported the assault.

Despite Pridgen's threats, Saldivar reported the assault to the Police Department, and the Department conducted an investigation. The investigation uncovered security camera footage at Saldivar's housing complex that showed a police cruiser parked next to one of the buildings in that complex and Pridgen entering and leaving that building. A subsequent search of Pridgen's police locker led to the seizure of various items, including two condoms and two packages of "Extenze" tablets.

Pridgen resigned from his job as a Fall River police officer on June 28, 2011. In September of that same year, the Bristol County, Massachusetts, District Attorney's office informed Saldivar that it would not prosecute Pridgen.

818 F.3d 17

The complaint also sets forth the following allegations concerning how Pridgen had been disciplined by the Police Department on various occasions prior to the alleged assault.2 In February 2007, he was suspended for thirty days—a punishment later reduced to a written warning and training—for failing to abide by Department policy in handling a domestic violence call.3 A few months later, in October 2007, Pridgen was suspended for five days without pay for violating the Department's sick leave policy. And, according to his disciplinary record, in January 2011, he was suspended for a day for violating the "[r]oll call/[leave benefit] policy." Pridgen was also reprimanded seven times between September 2003 and June 2011 for "[f]ailure to log & submit [e]vidence [f]orm," "attention to duty," "absence from duty/late," "cruiser accident," "pursuit policy," "tardiness," and "reports."

Pridgen's final disciplinary action came in June of 2011, shortly after the alleged rape and assault. At that time, he was suspended for five days without pay for allowing his license to carry his service handgun to lapse for five years.4

Saldivar brought suit against Pridgen, Fall River Chief of Police Daniel Racine, and the City of Fall River for (1) assault and battery by Pridgen; (2) violation of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act by Pridgen and the City; (3) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by all defendants, and (4) negligent hiring, training, and supervision by the City.

Pridgen never entered an appearance in this case, and the District Court granted default judgment of $600,000 to Saldivar on her claims against him. Racine and the City then moved to dismiss all of Saldivar's claims against them for failure to state a claim. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The District Court granted those motions and dismissed the complaint. See Saldivar v. Pridgen, 91 F.Supp.3d 134 (D.Mass.2015).

Saldivar appeals the dismissal of her § 1983 claim against Racine, her § 1983 claim against the City, and her negligent hiring, training, and supervision claim against the City.5

II.

We review the District Court's dismissal for failure to state a claim de novo, and we may affirm "on any ground made manifest by the record." Decotiis v. Whittemore, 635 F.3d 22, 28 (1st Cir.2011)

818 F.3d 18

(quoting Roman–Cancel v. United States, 613 F.3d 37, 41 (1st Cir.2010) ).

To survive a motion to dismiss, Saldivar's complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter ... to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ " Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) ). In evaluating whether a complaint states a plausible claim, we "perform [a] two-step analysis." Cardigan Mtn. Sch. v. N.H. Ins. Co., 787 F.3d 82, 84 (1st Cir.2015). At the first step, we "distinguish the complaint's factual allegations (which must be accepted as true) from its conclusory legal allegations (which need not be credited)." Id. (quoting García–Catalán v. United States, 734 F.3d 100, 103 (1st Cir.2013) ). At step two, we must "determine whether the factual allegations are sufficient to support the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Id. (quoting García–Catalán, 734 F.3d at 103 ) (internal quotation marks omitted).

This standard is "not akin to a ‘probability requirement,’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955 ). "Applying the plausibility standard is ‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.’ " Decotiis, 635 F.3d at 29 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ).

A.

We begin with Saldivar's § 1983 claim against Racine. Section 1983 provides a cause of action when an individual, acting under color of state law, deprives a person of constitutional rights. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Saldivar's complaint does not allege that Racine directly deprived her of such rights. But Saldivar is correct that a supervisory official like Racine may be held liable under § 1983 for the unconstitutional behavior of a subordinate like Pridgen. Of course, a supervisor is not liable under § 1983 for the actions of a subordinate on a respondeat superior theory. See Maldonado–Denis v. Castillo–Rodriguez, 23 F.3d 576, 581 (1st Cir.1994). Rather, the supervisor is liable for the subordinate's actions if the subordinate's behavior led to a constitutional violation and if "the supervisor's action or inaction was affirmatively linked to that behavior in the sense that it could be characterized as supervisory encouragement, condonation or acquiescence or gross negligence amounting to deliberate indifference." Estate of Bennett v. Wainwright, 548 F.3d 155, 176–77 (1st Cir.2008) (brackets omitted) (quoting Pineda v. Toomey, 533 F.3d 50, 54 (1st Cir.2008) ).

The District Court dismissed Saldivar's claim against Racine on the ground that Saldivar had failed to plausibly allege that Racine was deliberately indifferent. The District Court explained that it reached that conclusion because the complaint failed to allege facts that would plausibly show that Racine had the requisite notice of the risk that Pridgen would assault Saldivar. See Saldivar, 91 F.Supp.3d at 137–38.

Our precedent requires that same conclusion. In order for a police supervisor to be deemed "deliberately indifferent," the supervisor must have "actual or constructive knowledge" of a "grave risk of harm" posed by the subordinate and fail to take "easily available measures to address the risk." Camilo–Robles v. Hoyos, 151 F.3d 1, 6–7 (1st Cir.1998). The complaint

818 F.3d 19

does allege that Pridgen had a number of disciplinary violations prior to the alleged assault and rape. Those violations do not, however, include any that would indicate that Pridgen had any propensity for violence or for any other sufficiently related conduct. This absence renders speculative any inference that one might otherwise arguably draw that any officer who would commit such an offense likely had a record that would suffice to give such an indication.

Nor does Saldivar contend otherwise. The...

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  • Logie v. Mass. Bay Transp. Auth., Civil No. 17-10949-PBS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 12 Julio 2018
    ...the factual allegations are sufficient to support the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Saldivar v. Racine , 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (internal quotations and citations omitted) (affirming motion to dismiss). As a pro se litigant, plaintiff is entitled to have ......
  • Shanafelt v. Dep't of Veteran Affairs, CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-10394-MBB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 23 Julio 2018
    ...probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.’ " Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ); Feliciano-Hernández v. Pereira-C......
  • Breiding v. Eversource Energy, Civil Action No. 17-12274
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 11 Septiembre 2018
    ...probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.’ " Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ). A claim must contain sufficient factual matter that, accepted as true,......
  • Centro Presente v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., Civil Action No. 18-10340
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 23 Julio 2018
    ...probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.’ " Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ). "[W]here a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
127 cases
  • Logie v. Mass. Bay Transp. Auth., Civil No. 17-10949-PBS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 12 Julio 2018
    ...whether the factual allegations are sufficient to support the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Saldivar v. Racine , 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (internal quotations and citations omitted) (affirming motion to dismiss). As a pro se litigant, plaintiff is entitled to ha......
  • Shanafelt v. Dep't of Veteran Affairs, CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-10394-MBB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 23 Julio 2018
    ...to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.’ " Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ); Feliciano-Hernández v. Pereira-C......
  • Breiding v. Eversource Energy, Civil Action No. 17-12274
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 11 Septiembre 2018
    ...to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.’ " Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ). A claim must contain sufficient factual matter that, accepted as true,......
  • Centro Presente v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., Civil Action No. 18-10340
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 23 Julio 2018
    ...to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.’ " Saldivar v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 ). "[W]here a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a de......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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