Chambers v. The Board of County Commissioners of the County of Eagle, Colorado et al
ORDER Overruling 82 Objections to and Adopting 78 Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge. The Motion To Dismiss Claims Against the Board of County Commissioners of Eagle County, Colorado, Joseph D. Hoy, and Tad Degen Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(1) and (b)(6) [#43], filed July 30, 2013, is GRANTED. Plaintiffs' claims against defendants, Joseph D. Hoy and Tad Degen, are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. By Judge Robert E. Blackburn on 2/12/2014.(klyon, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Judge Robert E. Blackburn
Civil Action No. 13-cv-00393-REB-MEH
JACKIE COOPER, in her individual capacity,
JOSEPH D. HOY, EAGLE COUNTY SHERIFF, in his official capacity,
HEATH MOSNESS, EAGLE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF, in his individual and official capacity,
TAD DEGEN, EAGLE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF, in his individual and official capacity,
ERIC MANDEVILLE, in his individual and official capacities; and
KIMBERLY JAMES, in her individual and official capacities,
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS TO AND ADOPTING
RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
The matters before me are (1) Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge
[#78],1 filed November 12, 2013; and (2) Plaintiff’s Objections to the Recommendation of
United States Magistrate Judge Concerning Defendants Hoy and Degen [#82], filed
November 26, 2013. I overrule the objections, adopt the recommendation, and grant the
apposite motion to dismiss.2
As required by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), I have reviewed de novo all portions of the
recommendation to which objections have been filed. Thus, I have considered carefully the
“[#78]” is an example of the convention I use to identify the docket number assigned to a specific
paper by the court’s electronic case filing and management system (CM/ECF). I use this convention
throughout this order.
After the motion to dismiss was filed, plaintiff agreed to dismiss all claims against the Board of
County Commissioners of the County of Eagle, Colorado, as well as the outrageous conduct claim against
Sheriff Hoy and Deputy Degen in their official capacities. (See Order Regarding Plaintiff’s Unopposed
Motion To Dismiss ¶ 2(a), (c), & (d) at 2 [#66], filed September 9, 2013.) Those portions of defendants’
motion to dismiss therefore are moot.
recommendation, objections, and applicable caselaw. The recommendation is detailed and
well-reasoned. Plaintiff’s objections are imponderous and without merit.
To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a
complaint must “‘contain enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’”
Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929
(2007)). Although all well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint must be accepted as
true, McDonald v. Kinder-Morgan, Inc., 287 F.3d 992, 997 (10th Cir. 2002), mere “labels and
conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” will not be sufficient to
defeat a motion to dismiss, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173
L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff insists that the Amended Complaint, read “as a whole,” demonstrates that he
has sufficiently alleged that all defendants acted together in a common scheme. There is no
theory of pleading under which the gestalt of the complaint would forgive a party’s failure to
plead any actual facts in support of its claims.3 Plaintiff’s repeated incantation of his premise
that all defendants acted “in partnership” with one another is not a fact, but a conclusion
untethered from any facts that might support such an inference with respect to these
defendants. Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1248 (10th Cir. 2008). His global,
undifferentiated references to “defendants” as a group likewise are insufficient to withstand a
motion to dismiss.4 Id. at 1250; Lewis v. Strong, 2010 WL 2232359 at *2 n.2 (D. Colo. June 2,
Plaintiff insists that he “has alleged specific facts indicating that the roles between the Sheriff’s
Department and school officials were indistinguishable” (Obj. at 2), but fails to point the court to any such
For this same reason, the allegation that “[c]ounsel for Plaintiff informed the government that
there was no restraining order naming the children” (Obj. at 3 (citing Am. Compl ¶ 66 at 17 [#9], filed May
8, 2013) (emphasis added)) does not support a conclusion that any particular defendant was aware of
The allegations implicating Sheriff Hoy are sparse and wholly conclusory. (See Am.
Compl. ¶ 77 at 20, ¶ 97 at 24-25, & ¶ 102 at 26.) There is not a single fact alleged to support
plaintiff’s bare allegation that the Sheriff Hoy was deliberately indifferent for failing to train or
supervise his officers, such as would make Sheriff Hoy potentially liable in his official capacity.5
Indeed, plaintiff has not even specified how the officers’ training is allegedly insufficient, see
Connick v. Thompson, – U.S. –, 131 S.Ct. 1350, 1360, 179 L.Ed.2d 417 (2011), much less
alleged the existence of an official policy or custom that was the moving force behind the
alleged constitutional violations of which he complains, see Monell v. Department of Social
Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 694, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 1037-38, 56 L.Ed.2d 611
(1978), or “[a] pattern of similar constitutional violations by untrained employees,” Connick, 131
S.Ct. at 1360. Merely parroting the language of the relevant standard, as plaintiff has done in
the Amended Complaint, is not sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. See Iqbal, 129 S.Ct.
at 1949. Thus, these claims are properly dismissed.
For similar reasons, the Amended Complaint is inadequate to state a plausible cause of
action against Deputy Degen. Plaintiff alleges that in 2011 Officer Arnold “contacted Defendant
Degen . . . and ‘told [him] about the case’” (Am. Compl. ¶ 31 at 9), and that in February 2012,
“Defendant Mosness met with Defendant Degen at Degen’s office at Eagle County High School”
(see id. ¶¶ 45-46 at 11). Conspicuously lacking from these allegations is any suggestion as to
what, specifically, Deputy Degen learned about plaintiff’s case as a result of these meetings.6
These same allegations likewise are insufficient to implicate liability on the part of Deputy Degen
in his official capacity.
The Amended Complaint avers that Deputy Degen received the flowers plaintiff sent to his
daughter at Eagle Valley High School and that the flowers were never delivered to plaintiff’s daughter.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 36 at 9-10.) At best, these allegations support an inference that Deputy Degen knew of the
restraining order. They do not, however, support the inference plaintiff seeks to draw – that Deputy Degen
knew the restraining order did not apply to plaintiff’s children and, more importantly, that he thereafter
See Robbins, 519 F.3d at 1248 (plaintiff cannot overcome motion to dismiss by allegations
which are “so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent”).
Moreover, there is no allegation in the Amended Complaint that can fairly be read to suggest
that Deputy Degen did anything with whatever information he did learn about plaintiff’s case as
a result of these interactions that caused or contributed to plaintiff’s arrest. Under those
circumstances, Deputy Degen is entitled to qualified immunity from plaintiff’s constitutional
claims, as well as dismissal of plaintiff’s outrageous conduct claim against him in his individual
I thus find and conclude that the arguments advanced, authorities cited, and findings of
fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation proposed by the magistrate judge should be
approved and adopted.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED as follows:
1. That the objections state in Plaintiff’s Objections to the Recommendation of
United States Magistrate Judge Concerning Defendants Hoy and Degen [#82], filed
November 26, 2013, are OVERRULED;
2. That the Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [#78], filed
November 12, 2013, is APPROVED AND ADOPTED as an order of this court;
3. That the Motion To Dismiss Claims Against the Board of County
Commissioners of Eagle County, Colorado, Joseph D. Hoy, and Tad Degen Pursuant to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(1) and (b)(6) [#43], filed July 30, 2013, is GRANTED;
4. That plaintiffs’ claims against defendants, Joseph D. Hoy and Tad Degen, are
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE;
5. That at the time judgment enters, judgment without prejudice SHALL ENTER on
played a role in the events that led to plaintiff’s arrest.
behalf of defendants, Joseph D. Hoy, Eagle County Sheriff, in his official capacity, and
defendant, Tad Degen, Eagle County Deputy Sheriff, in his individual and official capacities,
against plaintiff, Stan Chambers, on all claims for relief and causes of action asserted against
these defendants; and
6. That defendant, Joseph D. Hoy, Eagle County Sheriff, in his official capacity and
defendant, Tad Degen, Eagle County Deputy Sheriff, in his individual and official capacities, are
DROPPED as named parties to this action, and the case caption is AMENDED accordingly.
Dated February 12, 2014, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
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