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Cariega v. City of Reno

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 8, 2017

CRYSTAL CARIEGA, individually and as mother and natural guardian of SEBASTIAN CARIEGA, SAMIRA CARIEGA, minors, Plaintiff,
CITY OF RENO, a political subdivision of the State of Nevada; LYNETTE JONES, in her individual capacity and official capacity and official capacity as City of Reno Clerk, and DOE Defendants 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.



         I. SUMMARY

         This case involves allegations concerning the City of Reno's purported pattern and practice of not processing traffic citation payments and quashing related arrest warrants in a proper and timely manner. Before the Court is Defendant City of Reno's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”). (ECF No. 7.) The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's response (ECF No. 10) and Defendant City of Reno's reply (ECF No. 11). For the reasons below, the Motion is granted.


         Plaintiff Crystal Cariega (“Plaintiff”), on behalf of herself and her two children, who are also named as Plaintiffs in this action, initially filed this action in the Second Judicial District Court for Washoe County on July 22, 2016. (ECF No. 1-1.) She then filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) (ECF No. 1-2) in the same court on August 11, 2016. Defendant removed this action on September 28, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) The following facts are taken from the FAC.

         Around January 27, 2014, Plaintiff, a member of the Quileute tribe, paid a traffic citation she owed to the City of Reno. Lynette Jones, [1] then the Head Clerk at the City Clerk's office, [2] did not process the payment of Plaintiff in a proper manner. As a result, an unlawful warrant for Plaintiff's arrest was wrongfully issued and never properly quashed. This warrant was issued and not quashed because of Plaintiff's status as a Native American.

         Around July 25, 2014, Plaintiff was driving home from her job at RC Willey. Her two children and a co-worker, Lucelly Fiero (“Ms. Fiero”), were in the car as well. At approximately 9:30 pm, Plaintiff was stopped by a local police officer while Plaintiff was travelling on U.S. 395 North. The officer informed Plaintiff that she had an outstanding arrest warrant for failure to pay a prior traffic citation. Plaintiff was arrested, handcuffed, and placed in the back seat of the officer's car. During Plaintiff's arrest, Plaintiff's son asked several times why the officer was taking Plaintiff away in handcuffs. Both children were then placed into the custody of Ms. Fiero.

         Plaintiff then went to Washoe County jail, where she was subjected to a strip-search, forced to wear jail attire, and had her personal items and clothes confiscated. Plaintiff requested to speak with someone to give an explanation, but employees at the jail refused to grant the request. While in custody at Washoe County jail, employees accused Plaintiff of being a “drunk Indian” and placed her with detainees who were intoxicated, despite a breathalyzer determining that Plaintiff was not intoxicated whatsoever. While with intoxicated detainees, Plaintiff was subject to sexual advances from these detainees. Plaintiff spent the night in jail. Her children were still in the custody of Ms. Fiero during that time.

         The next morning, Plaintiff was released after paying the bail amount. At work that day, Plaintiff discovered that her fellow employees had found and shared her booking photo from the previous night. Plaintiff then had to explain the situation to her employer. Plaintiff also had to explain the situation again when the wrongful arrest came up on a background check several months later.

         At Plaintiff's subsequent appearance in court, she provided proof that she had paid the traffic citation. Her case was dismissed, but the court did not reimburse Plaintiff the full amount of her bail. Instead, they decreased the bail amount by the traffic citation, which she had already paid. It then took several weeks to get that portion of the bail amount returned to Plaintiff.

         In the FAC, Plaintiff brings eight claims for relief based on: (1) violation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution (brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983); (2) false/wrongful arrest; (3) false imprisonment; (4) conversion; (5) negligence; (6) negligence per se; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and, (8) negligent infliction of emotional distress.


         A. Legal Standard

         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 pleaded 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). The Rule 8 notice pleading standard requires Plaintiff to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative ...

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