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Cariega v. City of Reno

United States District Court, D. Nevada

February 15, 2018

CRYSTAL CARIEGA, individually and as mother and natural guardian of SEBASTIAN CARIEGA, SAMIRA CARIEGA, minors, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF RENO, et al., Defendants.



         I. SUMMARY

         This action concerns alleged deprivations of Plaintiff Crystal Cariega's (“Cariega”) constitutional rights resulting from her arrest for an outstanding warrant that she contends was unlawful. Pending before this Court are two motions: (1) Defendants City of Reno (“the City”), Reno Municipal Court (“RMC”), and Mauricio Rojas' (“collectively Defendants”)[1] Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint (“Defendants' Motion”) (ECF No. 37); and (2) Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Plaintiffs' Motion”) (ECF No. 40). The parties filed respective responses (ECF Nos. 38, 44) and replies (ECF Nos. 39, 46).

         For the reasons discussed herein, Defendants' Motion is granted and Plaintiffs' Motion is denied as moot. Because Cariega's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim is dismissed, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' remaining state law claims and remands this action to state court.


         Plaintiffs Crystal Cariega and her two children, Sebastian and Samira Cariega (“the Cariega Children”), commenced this action on July 22, 2016, in the Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada in and for the County of Washoe, against the City and Lynette Jones. (ECF No. 1-1.) While this action was still pending in state court, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on August 11, 2016. (ECF No. 1-2.) On September 28, 2016, the City removed the action[2] based on federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (ECF No. 1.) The City moved to dismiss the FAC on October 12, 2016 (ECF No. 7), and on May 8, 2017, this Court entered an order granting the City's motion but permitting Plaintiffs leave to amend the FAC (ECF No. 23).[3] On May 31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint, removing Jones as a defendant and adding RMC, Rojas, and Dale Hallstone as defendants. (ECF No. 24.) On June 1, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) in order to correct the misspelling of Dale Hallstone's name to Dale Hailstone. (ECF No. 30.) The following facts are taken from the TAC unless otherwise indicated.

         Cariega is a Native American woman[4] and resident of Reno. On or about September 9, 2013, Cariega was issued a traffic citation for speeding pursuant to NRS § 484B.600. On or about October 14, 2013, RMC issued an arrest warrant for Cariega based on her failure to appear. On or about December 2, 2013, Cariega filed a motion to dismiss the arrest warrant. Subsequently on or about December 3, RMC quashed the arrest warrant and ordered Cariega to perform 24 hours of community service in lieu of payment of a fine. RMC required that she complete her community service by February 21, 2014. On or about January 27, 2014, Cariega paid the fine and was allegedly told by the on-duty RMC clerk that RMC followed a “policy, custom, pattern and practice of taking payments from defendants in lieu of performing community service.” (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 20.) Moreover, the RMC called “upstairs” and then informed Cariega that someone “upstairs” had approved her payment of the fine in lieu of the “community service order.” (Id. at ¶ 21.) She paid $195 to RMC.

         On or about February 27, 2014, Hailstone “illegally verified . . . the arrest warrant for and in [sic] behalf of another clerk, Mr. Rojas.” (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 23.) According to Plaintiffs, in his declaration in support of the arrest warrant Hailstone claimed that Rojas had reviewed Cariega's file and had determined that an arrest warrant should issue against Cariega.

         On or about July 26, 2014, at approximately 9:30pm Cariega was driving home from work with her children and a co-worker, Lucelly Fiero, on U.S. 395 North near the North McCarran exit when a local police officer stopped her. After the officer performed a warrant and arrest search, the officer advised Cariega that she had an outstanding arrest warrant for failure to pay a prior traffic citation. Cariega was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the officer's car, to which the Cariega Children were witnesses. The Cariega Children were then placed into the custody of Cariega's co-worker, Fiero.

         Cariega was taken to Washoe County Detention Facility (“WCDF”), where her personal belongings were confiscated, and where she was subjected to a strip search and forced to wear WCDF attire. While at WCDF, jail staff allegedly accused Cariega of being a “drunk Indian, ” and despite passing a breathalyzer test-which showed she had no alcohol in her system-she was placed in the “inebriate [sic] jail population” and received repeated sexual advances from other WCDF detainees. (ECF No. 30 at ¶ 39.) Cariega spent the night at WCDF and was released the following morning after she paid bail. Upon returning to court, Cariega demonstrated that she had paid the traffic citation six months prior to her arrest; yet it took several more weeks for her to receive reimbursement of a portion of her bail. The wrongful arrest then appeared in a background check months later. Her employer was made aware of the situation, and Cariega was forced to take several meetings with her supervisor to explain why the arrest was unlawful. Plaintiffs assert a claim for violation of Cariega's Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as seven state law claims. Defendants' Motion seek dismissal only of the section 1983 claim.


         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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.) “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. 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, 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 it has not show[n]-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 ...

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