United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF NO. 52)
P. GORDON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Vanessa Kelley spent several months in jail for a crime she
did not commit. Her spouse (Audrey Young) falsely reported
that Kelley stabbed her. Kelley alleges City of Henderson
detectives failed to fully investigate her spouse's
accusation. Kelley's amended complaint includes causes of
action for malicious prosecution, unlawful imprisonment, and
Monell liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. She
also asserts state law claims for malicious prosecution,
false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional
distress (“IIED”). Kelley names the arresting
detectives (Mark Hosaka and Chad Mitchell) and their employer
(the City of Henderson) as defendants.
dismiss Kelley's Monell and IIED claims. I also
dismiss the portions of Kelley's other claims that rely
on allegations that her post-arrest detention was
unreasonable because the detectives knew of exculpatory
evidence that would have negated probable cause. But, because
Kelley has adequately alleged the detectives lacked probable
cause to arrest her, I deny the defendants' motion to
dismiss her malicious prosecution and false imprisonment
October 2013, detectives Hosaka and Mitchell responded to
Young's 911 call. ECF No. 51 at ¶¶ 4, 12, 14.
Young told the detectives she had been stabbed by her wife,
Vanessa Kelley. Id. at ¶ 12. Young could not
identify what implement Kelley used to stab her, but she
“assumed” it was a deadly weapon. Id. at
interviewing Young, detective Hosaka said, “ideally
we'll find [Kelley] today, and she'll be locked up .
. . as it goes now, there's enough to arrest her.”
Id. at ¶ 18. Kelley alleges the detectives did
not collect various pieces of evidence that could have
exculpated her. Id. at ¶ 20. For example, the
detectives did not impound the rags Young claimed she used to
clean her bleeding or the chair she claimed was damaged.
Id. at ¶¶ 24, 26. The detectives did not
speak to witnesses or neighbors or take photos. Id.
at ¶¶ 21, 22. They did not verify whether the
couple had protective orders in place at the time of the
incident, which the couple did. Id. at ¶ 27.
Surveillance video shows Kelley entering a family court
around the time of the alleged stabbing. Id. at
¶ 13. Additionally, Young receives treatment for
schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Id. at
alleges she called the Henderson Police to request an officer
to stand by while she collected her belongings from the
residence where the alleged stabbing occurred. Id.
at ¶ 19. Kelley indicated she told the detectives she
was willing to speak to them in the presence of her attorney.
Id. at ¶ 29. The detectives then arrested her.
Id. at ¶ 30. Kelley spent several months in
jail until the prosecuting attorney dropped the charges
against her. Id. at ¶¶ 37, 39.
alleges her arrest was not an isolated mistake by the
Henderson police but rather was a product of the City's
policies that tolerate officer misconduct. Id. at
¶¶ 68, 70. Kelley alleges the City of Henderson has
unwritten policies of not preserving and disclosing evidence
once detectives have found probable cause to arrest a
suspect. Id. at ¶ 5. As evidence of these
policies, she alleges the City promoted an officer who used
excessive force against a man suffering a diabetic seizure
and she lists six other individuals whose civil rights have
allegedly been violated by the City. Id. at
¶¶ 68(b), 70.
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). Rule 8 “does not
require detailed factual allegations.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotation omitted). But
it does require more than “labels and
conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action.” Id. (quotation
omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). They must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
courts apply a two-step approach when considering motions to
dismiss. Id. at 679. First, courts accept as true
all well-pleaded factual allegations and draw all reasonable
inferences from the complaint in the plaintiff's favor.
Id.; Brown v. Elec. Arts, Inc., 724 F.3d
1235, 1247-48 (9th Cir. 2013). Legal conclusions, however,
are not entitled to the same assumption of truth even if cast
in the form of factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
courts consider whether the factual allegations in the
complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. A
claim is facially plausible when the 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 it has not shown-that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679
(quotation omitted). Complaints must be dismissed when they
have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “Determining whether
a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be
a context-specific task that requires the court to draw on
its judicial experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Section 1983 Malicious Prosecution and Unlawful Imprisonment
(Counts One and Two)
alleges the detectives maliciously prosecuted her in
violation of her Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. She alleges they lacked probable cause to arrest her
because no reasonable officer would rely on the testimony of
one witness who claims she was the victim of the crime. And
Kelley alleges she remained incarcerated for months despite
the existence of exculpatory evidence that would have negated
probable cause for her continued detention.
defendants move to dismiss, arguing Kelley has not alleged
specific facts which, if accepted as true, would establish
she was arrested without probable cause. They also argue that
Kelley had no right to a post-arrest investigation.