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Marutyan v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 22, 2017




         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiffs, proceeding pro se, filed this suit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”) and unnamed defendants, alleging a number of constitutional violations. LVMPD filed a Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”). (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiffs responded to the Motion (ECF No. 11) and LVMPD replied (ECF No. 14.) For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         The following facts are taken from the Complaint. (ECF No. 1.) Ara, Arthur, and Diana Marutyan (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege that LVMPD violated their constitutional due process rights, and a number of other rights, when police officers seized personal property during searches of their home and Diana Marutyan's dorm room.

         Plaintiffs allege that LVMPD officers executed search warrants at their home on several occasions starting on February 13, 2014, and ending on March 27, 2014. (Id. at 2). During these searches, the officers seized more than 100 items including firearms, cell phones, computers, passports, social security cards, birth certifications, and other documents.[1] (Id.) Later, on April 3, 2014, LVMPD executed a search warrant on the dorm room of Diana Marutyan and seized a cell phone. (Id. at 2-3.)

         Plaintiffs allege that they were never charged with a crime, and LVMPD never commenced any civil forfeiture proceedings for the seized property. (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiffs further allege that they have contacted LVMPD over 100 times in an attempt to recover their property, but have been unsuccessful. (Id. at 3.)

         On April 15, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court (“State Suit”).[2] (Id. at 5.) The State Suit seeks return of the property, compensatory damages, and attorney fees. (ECF No. 6-1 at 5.) An intervener, represented by counsel, entered the State Suit and moved for return of the items based on NRS § 179.085, a state law which allows a party to recover items seized by police if “[r]etention of the property by law enforcement is not reasonable under the totality of circumstances.” (ECF No. 6-2 at 19 (citing NRS 179.085(1)(e)).) The Court takes judicial notice that a notice of appeal was filed in the state court case on March 6, 2017. Marutyan v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Case. No. A-15-716800-C (Clark Co. Dist. Ct., Mar. 6, 2017).

         More than a year after filing the State Suit, Plaintiffs initiated this action, alleging LVMPD's behavior violated the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (ECF No. 1.) LVMPD moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 6.)


         A court may dismiss a plaintiff's complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A properly pled complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands more than “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). “Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citation omitted).

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, a district court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 678. Second, a district court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allow a court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 678. Where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has “alleged-but not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotation marks omitted). When the claims in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, the complaint must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         A complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations concerning “all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562 (quoting Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F.2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1989) (emphasis in original)).

         Allegations in pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, and must be liberally construed. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam); see also Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 893 (9th Cir.2011); Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.1990). Though pro se pleadings are to be liberally construed, a plaintiff must still ...

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