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Brigance v. State

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 7, 2017

RICKY L. BRIGANCE, Plaintiffs,
STATE OF NEVADA, et al., Defendants.


         Presently before the court is defendant the State of Nevada's (“defendant”) motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 14). Plaintiff Ricky L. Brigance (“plaintiff”) filed a response (ECF No. 15), to which defendant replied (ECF No. 16).

         I. Facts

         The instant action arises from a traffic stop by a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”) officer on May 24, 2016. Plaintiff was driving his vehicle on a public road, and plaintiff was stopped by LVMPD. (ECF Nos. 1 at 3; 3 at 3). Officer R. Courtney allegedly did not identify the reason for the stop and did not articulate the basis for any reasonable suspicion. (Id.). Plaintiff presented his driver's license, but was not asked for proof of registration or insurance. (Id.). Plaintiff also admitted to having a firearm in the vehicle and a license for the firearm. (Id.). Officer Courtney confiscated the firearm and arrested plaintiff for possession of a loaded firearm. (Id. at 3-4). Plaintiff asserts that the firearm was not loaded per NRS 503 and that no round was in the chamber. (Id.). At the time of booking, officer Courtney allegedly altered the arrest charge to reckless driving, yet the firearm remained impounded. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff alleges that he was not cited for any violation, traffic or otherwise. (Id. at 7). The municipal court dismissed the charge on June 23, 2016, and closed the matter. (Id. at 5).

         On January 30, 2017, plaintiff filed the underlying complaint against defendants the State of Nevada, LVMPD, and officer Courtney, asserting five claims for relief: (1) civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) false arrest; (3) false imprisonment; (4) negligent hiring, training, supervision, retention; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. (ECF Nos. 1, 3).

         In the instant motion, the State of Nevada moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 14).

         II. Legal Standard

         A court may dismiss a 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) (citation omitted).

         “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 (citation omitted).

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, the court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 678-79. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 678.

         Second, the 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 the 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. (internal quotation marks omitted). When the allegations in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, plaintiff's claim must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         The Ninth Circuit addressed post-Iqbal pleading standards in Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The Starr court stated, in relevant part:

First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not ...

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