Trujillo v. Rio Arriba Cnty. ex rel. Rio Arriba Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, No. CIV 15-0901 JB/WPL

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
PartiesJOHN TRUJILLO, Plaintiff, v. RIO ARRIBA COUNTY ex rel. RIO ARRIBA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; DEPUTY GILBERT ATENCIO, in his individual capacity; and LIEUTENANT MARVIN ARMIJO, in his individual capacity, Defendants.
Decision Date19 December 2016
Docket NumberNo. CIV 15-0901 JB/WPL

JOHN TRUJILLO, Plaintiff,
v.
RIO ARRIBA COUNTY ex rel.
RIO ARRIBA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT;
DEPUTY GILBERT ATENCIO, in his individual capacity;
and LIEUTENANT MARVIN ARMIJO, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

No. CIV 15-0901 JB/WPL

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO

December 19, 2016


MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Qualified Immunity and Summary Judgment, filed June 7, 2016 (Doc. 34)("MSJ"). The Court held a hearing on September 21, 2016. The primary issues are: (i) whether Defendants Rio Arriba County, Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department, and Deputy Gilbert Atencio are entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff John Trujillo's federal claim for discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12165 ("ADA")(Count IV), and his state law claims for false imprisonment (Count I), false arrest (Count II), and malicious abuse of process (Count III); and (ii) whether Atencio is entitled to qualified immunity with respect to the ADA claim. The Court will grant in part and deny in part the MSJ. The Court concludes that the Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the ADA claim, because Trujillo was arrested pursuant to probable cause that he was driving while intoxicated and because Trujillo was not refused a reasonable accommodation as the ADA requires. The Court declines, however, to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims and remands the case for further state court proceedings. The final issue

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-- whether Atencio is entitled to qualified immunity -- is moot, because the Defendants have withdrawn their qualified immunity motion in light of the fact that Trujillo's ADA claim is not asserted against Atencio.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The Court will provide two factual background sections, which are set forth below. First, the Court will contextualize the MSJ by providing a brief overview of the facts based on the allegations in the Complaint to Recover Damages Pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act and for the Deprivation of Rights Guaranteed by the New Mexico Constitution, filed October 7, 2015 (Doc. 1-1)("Complaint"). Second, the Court will set forth the undisputed facts based on the parties' briefings for purposes of deciding the MSJ under rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

1. The Complaint's Factual Allegations.

This action arises out of the alleged wrongful arrest of Trujillo on August 22, 2013, for driving under the influence ("DUI"). See Complaint ¶¶ 20-80, at 3-7. Trujillo is an honorably discharged United States Army veteran who suffers from degenerative joint disease in his knees and nephropathy, an end stage renal disease associated with diabetes mellitus.1 See Complaint ¶¶ 8-9, at 2. At 7:00 p.m. on August 22, 2013, Trujillo stopped at a Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department DUI checkpoint on Highway 68 in Velarde, New Mexico. See Complaint ¶¶ 21-22, at 3. Trujillo admitted to consuming two beers with dinner, and Armijo instructed Trujillo to pull to the side of the road. See Complaint ¶¶ 24-27, at 3. Atencio approached the car and instructed Trujillo to perform

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sobriety tests. See Complaint ¶¶ 28-38, at 3-4. Because of his disabilities, Trujillo asked to "retrieve his walking cane from the trunk of his car." Complaint ¶ 38, at 4. Trujillo attempted to explain his disabilities and offered to present his Handicap Placard as proof, but Atencio denied Trujillo's request. See Complaint ¶¶ 43-44, at 4. Trujillo struggled to perform various walking and standing tests, and informed Atencio of his knee problems and other ailments. See Complaint ¶¶ 64-73, at 6. Atencio then administered a preliminary breath test and informed Trujillo that his breath alcohol level was 0.12. See Complaint ¶¶ 48-51, at 4-5. At 7:16 p.m., Atencio arrested Trujillo for DUI. See Complaint ¶¶ 36-78, at 4-6. Atencio then took Trujillo to Presbyterian Española Hospital in Española, New Mexico, for blood testing. See Complaint ¶ 82, at 7. Atencio kept Trujillo in handcuffs until Trujillo's daughter paid his bail around midnight. See Complaint ¶ 91, at 7. The results of the blood test later indicated that Trujillo had no alcohol in his system. See Complaint ¶ 99, at 8.

2. Undisputed Facts.

On August 22, 2013, Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department was conducting a DUI checkpoint "on Highway 68 near mile marker 14.50 in Velarde, New Mexico." MSJ ¶ 4, at 4 (setting forth this fact). See Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Motion for Qualified Immunity and Summary Judgment ¶ 3, at 9, filed August 1, 2016 (Doc. 55)("MSJ Response")(not disputing this fact). Trujillo encountered the DUI checkpoint at approximately 7:00 p.m. See MSJ ¶ 5, at 4 (setting forth this fact); MSJ Response ¶ 4, at 9 (not disputing this fact). Upon meeting Armijo, Trujillo "admitted to drinking two beers within the past few hours." MSJ ¶ 6, at 4 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 5, at 9 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo was instructed to move to a "separate staging area where he was directed to complete a series of DUI field sobriety tests." MSJ ¶ 7, at 5 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 6, at 9 (not disputing this fact). Once in the

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area, Atencio gave Trujillo a preliminary breathalyzer test ("PBT"). See MSJ ¶ 8, at 5 (setting forth this fact)(citing Complaint ¶ 51, at 5).2 Trujillo was also administered a horizontal gaze nystagmus

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test ("HGN"),3 which he failed. See MSJ ¶ 9, at 5 (setting forth this fact)(citing Deposition of Murray Conrad at 40:19-23 (taken May 2, 2016), filed June 7, 2016 (Doc. 34-2)("Conrad Depo.")(Conrad, Sullivan)).4 The HGN test correlates with indicia of intoxication. See MSJ ¶ 10, at 5 (setting forth this fact)(citing Conrad Depo. At 45:19-23)(Conrad)).5

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Trujillo was administered a finger dexterity test, which he performed with both hands. See MSJ ¶ 12, at 5 (setting forth this fact); MSJ Response ¶ 11, at 11 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo is missing his right thumb. See MSJ ¶ 11, at 5 (setting forth this fact); MSJ Response ¶ 10, at 11 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo failed the finger dexterity test with his right hand. See MSJ ¶ 13, at 5 (setting forth this fact).6

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During this encounter, Atencio7 "observed an odor of alcohol and that [Trujillo] had bloodshot eyes." MSJ ¶ 14, at 5 (setting forth this fact).8 Atencio also observed that Trujillo had slurred speech and that he had a breath mint in his mouth. See MSJ Reply at 6.9

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Trujillo "was arrested at approximately 7:16 pm." MSJ ¶ 15, at 5 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 14, at 12 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo's arrest was for "driving 'while impaired to the slightest degree.'" MSJ ¶ 16, at 5 (setting forth this fact).10 "As a courtesy to [Trujillo] and for his comfort, he was handcuffed with his hands in the front of his body." MSJ ¶ 17, at 5 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 16, at 12 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo "'appreciate[d the] consideration' Officer Atencio showed him by placing the handcuffs in the front of his body." MSJ ¶ 18, at 5 (setting forth this fact)(alteration in original). See MSJ Response ¶ 17,

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at 12 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo was then taken to Española Hospital for a blood alcohol test. See MSJ ¶ 19, at 5 (setting forth this fact); MSJ Response ¶ 18, at 12 (not disputing this fact).

Trujillo was not incarcerated, but was "held at the Sheriff's office temporary detention area until he was released on bond around midnight." MSJ ¶ 20, at 5-6 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 19, at 12 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo never asked Atencio to remove or loosen his handcuffs. See MSJ ¶ 21, at 6 (setting forth this fact); MSJ Response ¶ 20, at 12 (not disputing this fact). Nor did Trujillo ask "any other Rio Arriba County official to remove or loosen his handcuffs." MSJ ¶ 22, at 6 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 21, at 12 (not disputing this fact). When he was released, Trujillo was "provided a State of New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department Motor Vehicle Division, Notice of [Driver's License] Revocation pursuant to NMSA 1978, §66-8-11." MSJ ¶ 23, at 6 (setting forth this fact)(alteration in original). See MSJ Response ¶ 22, at 12 (not disputing this fact).

Trujillo's driver's license revocation hearing was held on November 5, 2013, "or within the statutory ninety-day period." MSJ ¶ 24, at 6 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 23, at 12 (not disputing this fact). "At the time of the hearing, the results of the state blood alcohol test were unavailable" and, accordingly, "the hearing officer was unable to 'find one way or the other, under the Implied Consent Act, whether there was a violation.'" MSJ ¶ 25, at 6 (setting forth this fact)(quoting Recording of Plaintiff's License Revocation Hearing at 4:44 (held November 5, 2013), filed June 7, 2016 (Doc. 34-7)("License Hearing"); NMSA §§ 66-8-105 to -112).11 The revocation

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of Trujillo's driver's license was rescinded. See MSJ Response ¶ 24, at 12 (setting forth this fact); MSJ Reply at 8 (not disputing this fact).12

"The results of the state toxicology test were not mailed to Defendants until November 25, 2013." MSJ ¶ 26, at 6 (setting forth this fact). See MSJ Response ¶ 25, at 12 (not disputing this fact). Trujillo's blood test "showed he had diazepam and [] its metabolite, noridazepam in his system." MSJ ¶ 27, at 6 (setting forth this fact).13 Diazepam has various effects, and a single dose "can reduce a driver's reaction times, ability to perform multiple tasks, adversely affects memory

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and cognition, increases fatigue, and decreases the ability of the driver to remain in his lane." MSJ ¶ 1, at 4 (setting forth this fact)(citing Commander Murray A. Conrad Statement of Qualifications at 1, filed September 15, 2016 (Doc. 62-1)("Conrad Qual.")...

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