Trujillo v. Board of County Com'rs of Santa Fe County, Nos. 83-2320

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore SEYMOUR, BREITENSTEIN and McWILLIAMS; SEYMOUR
Citation768 F.2d 1186
Decision Date26 July 1985
Docket Number83-2379,Nos. 83-2320
PartiesRose Eileen TRUJILLO and Patricia Trujillo, Plaintiffs-Appellants and Cross-Appellees, v. The BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF the COUNTY OF SANTA FE, a New Mexico body corporate and politic, the City of Santa Fe, a New Mexico municipal corporation, Eddie Armijo, Sheriff of the County of Santa Fe, Joseph Thomas, Greg Coe, Ernie Godsey, Robert Alarid, Sammy Garduno, James Rodriquez, Mike B. Vigil, Severino Rivera, Carl Miller, George Carrion, Robert Montoya, Manuel Sais, Manuel Armijo, and Joann Maier, Defendants-Appellees and Cross-Appellants.

Page 1186

768 F.2d 1186
54 USLW 2101
Rose Eileen TRUJILLO and Patricia Trujillo,
Plaintiffs-Appellants and Cross-Appellees,
v.
The BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF the COUNTY OF SANTA FE,
a New Mexico body corporate and politic, the City of Santa
Fe, a New Mexico municipal corporation, Eddie Armijo,
Sheriff of the County of Santa Fe, Joseph Thomas, Greg Coe,
Ernie Godsey, Robert Alarid, Sammy Garduno, James Rodriquez,
Mike B. Vigil, Severino Rivera, Carl Miller, George Carrion,
Robert Montoya, Manuel Sais, Manuel Armijo, and Joann Maier,
Defendants-Appellees and Cross-Appellants.
Nos. 83-2320, 83-2379.
United States Court of Appeals,
Tenth Circuit.
July 26, 1985.

Page 1187

Vince D'Angelo, Albuquerque, N.M., for plaintiffs-appellants and cross-appellees.

Jonathan E. Zorn, Albuquerque, N.M., and W. Mark Mowery, Santa Fe, N.M. (Andrew M. Ives, Santa Fe, N.M., with them on brief), for defendants-appellees and cross-appellants.

Before SEYMOUR, BREITENSTEIN and McWILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

SEYMOUR, Circuit Judge.

Rose Eileen Trujillo and her daughter, Patricia Trujillo, appeal from the dismissal of their action filed under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 (1982). 1 In their complaint, the Trujillos allege that the wrongful death of their son and brother, Richard Trujillo, while incarcerated at the Santa Fe County Jail, deprived them of their constitutional right of familial association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Defendants, various officials and public bodies of both the City and County of Santa Fe, moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on the ground that the Trujillos lacked standing. In a second motion for summary judgment, defendants argued that a settlement and release signed by the decedent's former wife and personal representative precluded any claim on behalf of Richard Trujillo. Treating the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b), the district court concluded that the Trujillos had not alleged a constitutional right compensable under section 1983. He therefore granted both motions and dismissed the complaint. We affirm the judgment, but on different grounds.

I.

STANDING

As a preliminary matter, appellees continue to argue on appeal that the Trujillos lack standing to assert a claim under section 1983. 2 In support of this argument, appellees cite Dohaish v. Tooley, 670 F.2d 934 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 826, 74 L.Ed.2d 63 (1982). In Dohaish, the father of an apparent murder victim sued the district attorney for failure to prosecute his son's killer. We affirmed dismissal of the suit both because the district attorney was immune, and because the father had asserted no personal constitutional injury and therefore lacked standing. Because the alleged discrimination was not directed at the father, he had suffered no violation of his own civil rights. Id. at 936. Here, the Trujillos clearly allege an injury to their own personal constitutional rights. These rights in no way derive from the decedent's personal rights, nor do the Trujillos sue on his behalf. 3 Therefore they have standing to assert their own claim under section 1983. See Bell v. City of

Page 1188

Milwaukee, 746 F.2d 1205, 1241 (7th Cir.1984); Logan v. Hollier, 711 F.2d 690, 690-91 (5th Cir.1983), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 1909, 80 L.Ed.2d 458 (1984); White v. Talboys, 573 F.Supp. 49, 51 (D.Colo.1983); cf. Jones v. Hildebrant, 432 U.S. 183, 97 S.Ct. 2283, 53 L.Ed.2d 209 (1977) (per curiam); Angola v. Civiletti, 666 F.2d 1, 3 (2d Cir.1981). Consequently, the sole issue on appeal is whether the Trujillos allege a deprivation of those constitutional rights compensable under section 1983.

II.

THE RIGHT OF FAMILIAL ASSOCIATION

Rose Trujillo and her daughter claim that Richard Trujillo's wrongful death "deprived [them] of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to associate with, to enjoy the company of, to have the familial association with, and communication with, Richard Trujillo, deceased." Rec., vol. I, at 3. The Supreme Court has recently clarified the constitutional sources of associational freedoms. In Roberts v. United States Jaycees, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 3244, 82 L.Ed.2d 462 (1984), the Court held that application of the Minnesota Human Rights Act to compel the Jaycees to accept women as regular members did not infringe members' freedom of intimate association or their freedom of expressive association. While the Court anchored the freedom of expressive association in the First Amendment, id. 104 S.Ct. at 3252, it identified the freedom of intimate association as "an intrinsic element of personal liberty," id. at 3251. See also Wise v. Bravo, 666 F.2d 1328, 1336-38 (10th Cir.1981) (Seymour, J., concurring). Although elements of each associational freedom may coincide in the same claim, see id. at 3249-50, it is the freedom of intimate association which primarily concerns us in this case. 4

In describing this constitutionally protected liberty, the Court recognized that "choices to enter into and maintain certain intimate human relationships must be secured against undue intrusion by the State...." Id. at 3249. Included in that category are "[f]amily relationships, [which] by their nature, involve deep attachments and commitments to the necessarily few other individuals with whom one shares not only a special community of thoughts, experiences, and beliefs but also distinctly personal aspects of one's life." Id. at 3250.

Many courts have recognized liberty interests in familial relationships other than strictly parental ones. See, e.g., Moore v. City of East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 97 S.Ct. 1932, 52 L.Ed.2d 531 (1977) (plurality opinion) (zoning ordinance could not prohibit grandmother from living with her grandsons who were cousins); Smith v. Organization of Foster Families, 431 U.S. 816, 97 S.Ct. 2094, 53 L.Ed.2d 14 (1977) (foster parents have liberty interest in relationship with foster children) (dicta); Wilson v. Taylor, 733 F.2d 1539 (11th Cir.1984) (interference with dating relationship actionable under Sec....

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212 practice notes
  • Murphy v. Bitsoih, No. CIV. 02-1185 MV/RHS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • June 1, 2004
    ...a parent and child, or sibling and sibling, can create a cause of action under Section 1983.5 See Trujillo v. Board of County Comm'rs, 768 F.2d 1186, 1190 (10th Cir.1985) (extending the right to intimate association to siblings and allowing a mother and sister to bring a Section 1983 claim ......
  • Dorato v. Smith, No. CIV 14–0365 JB/GBW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • May 26, 2015
    ...that he deprived their constitutional rights and not third parties' rights. See Motion at 11 (citing Trujillo v. Board of Cnty. Comm'rs, 768 F.2d 1186, 1190 (10th Cir.1985) ).Smith maintains that the Complaint does not contain any allegations showing that Jobe, D.T., J.T., or I.M. can asser......
  • Rees v. Office of Children, Case No. 1:09–cv–283.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • September 30, 2010
    ...arriving at this ruling, the Suasnavas court relied on the Tenth Circuit's prior decision in Trujillo v. Board of County Commissioners, 768 F.2d 1186 (10th Cir.1985), a case in which the plaintiff mother and her adult daughter claimed that they had been deprived of their constitutional righ......
  • Estate of Holmes v. Somers, Case No. 18-1221-JWB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • April 17, 2019
    ...to interfere with a particular relationship protected by the freedom of intimate association...." Trujillo v. Board of County Comm'rs , 768 F.2d 1186, 1190 (10th Cir. 1985). Although Plaintiff, in her capacity as Holmes' mother, has alleged that she has suffered loss of companionship, she h......
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211 cases
  • Bazzetta v. McGinnis, No. 95-CV-73540-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • April 19, 2001
    ...interests in familial relationship other than strictly parental ones." Trujillo v. Board of County Commissioners of Santa Fe County, 768 F.2d 1186, 1188 (10th Cir.1985) (citations omitted). Further, the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment protect the fundamental rights to esta......
  • Cordova v. City of Albuquerque, No. 14–2083.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • March 8, 2016
    ...the "intent to interfere" with a particular 816 F.3d 655protected relationship. Id.;see alsoTrujillo v. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 768 F.2d 1186, 1190 (10th Cir.1985).5 In conducting the balancing required by the second prong, "the court will consider, among other things, the sever......
  • Halley v. Huckaby, No. 16-7079
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • August 27, 2018
    ...at 863–864, 118 S.Ct. 1708. Indeed, when our court first applied this intent requirement in Trujillo v. Board of County Commissioners , 768 F.2d 1186 (10th Cir.1985), we did so to prevent this doctrine from turning all negligent torts leading to the death of a child into constitutional viol......
  • Pahle v. Colebrookdale Township, No. 00-CV-3180 (E.D. Pa. 3/26/2002), No. 00-CV-3180.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • March 26, 2002
    ...or child suffers actionable non-fatal physical injury); but see Trujillo v. Board of County Commissioners of the County of Santa Fe, 768 F.2d 1186, 1190 (10th Cir. 1985) (disagreeing with Bell, holding that allegation of intent to interfere with a particular relationship protected by the fr......
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