Hanson v. Blaine County et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - IT IS ORDERED: 1. Defendants Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 17 ) is GRANTED for Defendants Ramsey, Gough, Shubert, and Gonzalez and the state law claims are dismissed without leave to amend. 2. Defendant Wayts Motion to Dism iss (Dkt. 30 ) is GRANTED with leave to amend as explained above. 3. If Plaintiff chooses to file an amended complaint to correct the deficiencies noted herein, he must do so within 20 days after the date of thisdecision. Signed by Judge B. Lynn Winmill. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (cjs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
Case No. 1:16-cv-00421-BLW
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
BLAINE COUNTY, GENE D.
RAMSEY, GOODING COUNTY,
SHAUN GOUGH, KEVIN WAYT,
WILLIAM SHUBERT, JESUS
GONZALEZ, JUDITH PETERSON,
AND JOHN DOES I-X,
Before the Court are Defendants’ Blaine County, Gene D. Ramsey, Gooding
County, Shaun Gough, William Shubert, and Jesus Gonzalez’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt.
17) and Kevin Wayt’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 30). The matters are fully briefed. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants’ motion to dismiss the state law
claims against Ramsey, Gough, Shubert, and Gonzalez without leave to amend. In
addition, the Court will grant Defendant Wayt’s Motion to Dismiss, but with leave to
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 1
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” in order to “give the defendant
fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). While a complaint
attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss “does not need detailed factual
allegations,” it must set forth “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555. To survive a
motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 556.
The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement,” but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Id. Where a complaint
pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, it “stops short of the
line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.’ ” Id. at 557.
The Supreme Court identified two “working principles” that underlie Twombly in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, the court need not accept as true, legal
conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. Id. Rule 8 does not “unlock the
doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Id. at 67879. Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must state a plausible claim for
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 2
relief. Id. at 679. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief
will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id.
A dismissal without leave to amend is improper unless it is beyond doubt that the
complaint “could not be saved by any amendment.” Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 573 F.3d 728,
737 (9th Cir. 2009) (issued 2 months after Iqbal).1 The Ninth Circuit has held that “in
dismissals for failure to state a claim, a district court should grant leave to amend even if
no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could
not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” Cook, Perkiss and Liehe, Inc. v.
Northern California Collection Service, Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990). The
issue is not whether plaintiff will prevail but whether he “is entitled to offer evidence to
support the claims.” Diaz v. Int’l Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13, 474 F.3d
1202, 1205 (9th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted).
The Court has some concern about the continued vitality of the liberal amendment policy adopted in
Harris v. Amgen, based as it is on language in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957), suggesting
that “a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that
the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim. . ..” Given Twombly and Iqbal’s rejection
of the liberal pleading standards adopted by Conley, it is uncertain whether the language in Harris v.
Amgen has much of a life expectancy.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 3
In his Complaint, Hanson alleges Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment
violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants in these motions are all law
enforcement officers in various positions and from different counties. Ramsey was the
elected Sheriff of Blaine County, Idaho. Gough, Shubert, and Gonzalez were all members
of Gooding County law enforcement. Gough was the sheriff; Shubert was a Corporal;
Gonzalez was an Officer. Wayt was a Parole Officer for the State of Idaho.
Wayt arrested Hanson around September 19, 2014 for an alleged parole violation.
Compl. ¶ 16. At the time of his arrest, Hanson allegedly informed Wayt he had recently
had surgery on his right eye and required prescription eye drops. Id. at ¶ 17. Wayt refused
to allow him to take his prescription eye drops with him to the county jail. Id.
Hanson was booked into Blaine County Jail and later transferred to Gooding
County jail on September 22, 2014. He alleges that, despite informing members of the
County Jails of his need for the eye drops, that the Defendants deprived him of his eye
drops for at least six days. Id. at ¶ 18–22. Hanson experienced retinal detachment in his
right eye requiring two surgical procedures to repair it. As a result, he has suffered
permanent vision lost in his right eye. Id. at ¶ 24.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 4
Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 17) – Bond Requirement
Ramsey, Gough, Shubert, and Gonzalez1 seek to dismiss the state law claims for
failure to post bond under Idaho Code § 6-610. Section 6-610 requires that “[b]efore any
civil action may be filed against any law enforcement officer or service of civil process
on any law enforcement officer,” plaintiffs must post a bond prior to or simultaneously
with the filing of the complaint. I.C. § 6-610(2). Although not a jurisdictional
requirement, posting bond is “mandatory” and a failure to post bond requires the trial
court judge to dismiss the claims immediately. I.C. § 6-610(5).
However, a court may waive costs, fees, and security for indigent plaintiffs. See
Idaho Code § 31-3220. Pursuant to § 31-3220, a party may file an affidavit stating that
he is indigent and unable to pay fees associated with the case. Id. Section 31-3220(2)
states that a “court may authorize the commencement . . . of any action” without
prepayment of fees or security if the plaintiff properly pleads indigency. See Idaho Code
§ 31-3220(2)(emphasis added).
Hanson argues that courts have been lenient with the timing of the bond and that
the Court is not required to dismiss it. The Court disagrees. The Idaho Supreme Court has
held that § 6-610(2) “plainly requires a plaintiff to post bond before it initiates suit
I.C. § 6-610 applies only against “law enforcement officers.” Therefore, any claims against
defendants Blaine County or Gooding County are not subject to the motion to dismiss under the statute.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 5
against a law enforcement officer.” Allied Bail Bonds, Inc. v. Cty. of Kootenai, 258 P.3d
340, 345 (Idaho 2011). In addition, Idaho case law indicates that any request for a bond
waiver should be done prior to filing the complaint. In Allied, the court dismissed the
claims despite the plaintiff filing an affidavit the next day. In Beehler, the court
explained, “[i]f the Beehlers were unable to afford the security bond as they claim, they
could have availed themselves of I.C. § 31–3220 in order to request a waiver of the
section 6–610 bond requirement prior to filing their complaint.” See Beehler v. Fremont
Cty., 182 P.3d 713, 717 (Idaho Ct. App. 2008).
Here, it is undisputed that Hanson failed to post the required bond when he filed
his complaint. He did submit a sworn affidavit asserting indigency – but almost five
months after filing his complaint and only after the defense raised the issue that he had
not posted a bond. Considering Allied and other Idaho case law, it is clear that Hanson
has failed to comply with the statute by posting a bond or submitting a request for relief
from that bond prior to or contemporaneously with the filing of the complaint. Therefore,
the Court will dismiss the state law claims against Ramsey, Gough, Shubert, and
Gonzalez for failure to post bond. Moreover, the dismissal is without leave to amend
because Hanson cannot unwind the clock to cure his failure to timely post a bond.
Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 30) – Immunity for Defendant Wayt
Hanson alleges that Wayt was deliberately indifferent towards his serious medical
needs by refusing to transport his prescription eye drops to the county jail after being told
that Hanson required them because of a recent eye surgery. Wayt argues he is immune in
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 6
his official capacity under the Eleventh Amendment and in his individual capacity under
As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that it does not read the Complaint to sue
Wayt in his official capacity, and Hanson makes no such argument in his briefs.
Therefore, the Court will not discuss immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, but will
only address qualified immunity. Additionally, the original motion included a request by
Idaho Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) to dismiss the claims against it. However,
this Court subsequently approved Hanon’s Amended Complaint which removed all
claims against IDOC. (Dkt. 35). Thus, the motion is moot as to IDOC.
Fourteenth Amendment –Qualified Immunity
The doctrine of qualified immunity “protects government officials from liability
for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). Qualified immunity gives government officials
“breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions.
When properly applied, it protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who
knowingly violate the law.” Ashcroft v. al–Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 743 (2011).
In determining whether an officer is entitled to qualified immunity, the Court must
determine whether the facts alleged, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, “(1)
. . . show that the officer’s conduct violated a constitutional right, and (2) the right at
issue was clearly established at the time of the incident such that a reasonable officer
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 7
would have understood his or her conduct to be unlawful in that situation.” Torres v. City
of Madera, 648 F.3d 1119, 1123 (9th Cir. 2011). Courts may use their discretion deciding
which of the two prongs to analyze first. Mueller v. Auker, 576 F.3d 979, 993 (9th Cir.
To determine whether the right was clearly established, the Court considers
Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit case law existing at the time of the alleged acts. See
Osolinski v. Kane, 92 F.3d 934, 936 (9th Cir. 1996). In the absence of binding precedent,
the district court should look to available decisions of other circuits and district courts to
ascertain whether the law is clearly established. See id.
The inquiry of whether a right was clearly established “must be undertaken in light
of the specific context of the case, not as a broad general proposition.” Saucier, 533 U.S.
at 201. “The relevant, dispositive inquiry is whether it would be clear to a reasonable
officer that his conduct was unlawful in the situation he confronted.” Id. at 202 (citing
Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 615 (1999)). “This is not to say that an official action is
protected by qualified immunity unless the very action in question has previously been
held unlawful, . . . [but] in the light of pre-existing law the unlawfulness must be
apparent.” Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987). “[E]xisting precedent must have placed
the statutory or constitutional question beyond debate.” Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S.Ct. 305,
308 (2015) (citing Ashcroft v. al–Kidd, 563 U.S. at 741).
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 8
Was the Right Clearly Established?
As a pre-trial detainee, Hanson’s rights while in custody arose under the Due
Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment’s
protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Gibson v. Cty. Of Washoe, 290 F.3d
1175, 1187 (9th Cir. 2002). “[T]he due process clause imposes, at a minimum, the same
duty the Eighth Amendment imposes: ‘persons in custody ha [ve] the established right to
not have officials remain deliberately indifferent to their serious medical needs.’” Id.
(quoting Carnell v. Grimm, 74 F.3d 977, 979 (9th Cir.1996)). However, a general
statement of the law is not “‘capable of giving fair and clear warning’ to officers.” White
v. Pauly, 137 S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017).
Here, the “contours” of that right are not sufficiently clear that a reasonable officer
under these particular circumstances – a parole officer making an arrest, transporting the
detainee to the county jail, and refusing to transport detainee’s prescription eye drops –
would understand that his conduct violated that right. There is no case law holding that an
officer under the same circumstances as Wayt violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The
case law provided by Hanson does not show that there was a “clearly established right” to
transport medication to the jail by an arresting officer. All of the cases cited by Hanson
focus on different factors of the deliberate indifference analysis.2 There is no case law
See Goldstein v. Alvarado, 2012 WL 4845630 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 10, 2012) (explaining that
officers were deliberately indifferent in failing to let detainee bring backpack when he was “high risk”
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 9
establishing a clearly established right to receive medical treatment from an arresting
officer for a medical condition that is not presenting an immediate threat of harm or pain
to the arrestee. Accordingly, the Court finds that Wayt is entitled to qualified immunity.
State Created Danger Doctrine
Hanson, in a single sentence at the end of his brief, argues that Wayt’s conduct
subjected him to liability under the “state created danger” doctrine. Generally, “the
Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause . . . does not confer any affirmative right to
governmental aid” and “typically does not impose a duty on the state to protect
individuals from third parties.” Henry A. v. Willden, 678 F.3d 991, 998 (9th Cir.
2012)(citing Patel v. Kent Sch. Dist., 648 F.3d 965, 971 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations and
alterations omitted). The “state created danger” doctrine is an exception to this rule, so
that liability exists when “the state affirmatively places the plaintiff in danger by acting
with ‘deliberate indifference’ to a ‘known and obvious danger.’” Henry A., 678 F.3d at
and they were aware of the risk, but the court rendered no findings as to the qualified immunity);
Hiramanek v. Clark, 2016 WL 4549153 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 1, 2016) (explaining that a failure to give
medication would not present a substantial risk of serious harm; not deciding that what medical was
required); Dettamanti v. County f Santa Barbara, 2014 WL 3427445 (C.D. Cal. May 21, 2014)
(explaining that failure to take detainee to hospital during a panic attack was deliberately indifferent.).
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 10
To determine whether the “state created danger” doctrine applies, courts must look
at “(1) whether any affirmative action of the official placed the individual in danger he
otherwise would not have faced; (2) whether the danger was known or obvious; and (3)
whether the officer acted with deliberate indifference to that danger.” Id. at 1002. In other
words, Wayt must have known something was going to happen, but ignored the risk and
knowingly exposed Hanson to it.
Construed liberally, the complaint can be seen as alleging that Wayt, by refusing
to allow him to take his prescription eye drops with him to the jail, placed Hanson in a
situation that would otherwise not exist. Nonetheless, Hanson’s argument fails to satisfy
the last two elements of the “state created danger” doctrine. There are no allegations that
Wayt was aware of an immediate and known danger to Hanson if he refused to take the
prescription eye drops to the jail. Therefore, the complaint does not adequately allege the
facts necessary to assert liability under a “state created danger.” The complaint will be
dismissed with leave to amend his complaint to allege such facts. However, any amended
complaint must allege specific facts about what the immediate and known danger was,
and how Wayt was aware of the danger. Simply stating that Wayt did not allow Hanson
to take his eye drops is not enough. Furthermore, the allegations must be specific – the
Court will not entertain a simple statement that Hanson acted with deliberate
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 11
ITCA – Immunity
Hanson alleges Idaho state tort claims similar to those raised in his § 1983 claims.
He alleges that Wayt was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs by refusing to take
his prescription eye drops to the county jail.
The Idaho Tort Claims Act (“ITCA”) “establishes that governmental entities are
subject to liability for their own negligent or wrongful acts, and those of their employees
who were acting within the course and scope of their employment.” Hoffer v. City of
Boise, 257 P.3d 1226, 1228 (Idaho 2011). However, the ITCA also expressly exempts
certain causes of action. Id. Idaho Code § 6-904 states,
A governmental entity and its employees while acting within the course and
scope of their employment and without malice or criminal intent shall not
be liable for any claim which:  Arises out of any act or omission of an
employee of the governmental entity exercising ordinary care, in reliance
upon or the execution or performance of a statutory or regulatory function,
whether or not the statute or regulation be valid, or based upon the exercise
or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function
or duty on the part of a governmental entity or employee thereof, whether
or not the discretion be abused.
Idaho Code § 9-604.
Here, Hanson has not alleged any facts that would support a finding that Wayt
acted with malice or criminal intent. As used in the ITCA, criminal intent means the
“intentional commission of what the person knows to be a crime.” James v. City of Boise,
376 P.3d 33, 51 (Idaho 2016). In addition, malice means, “the intentional commission of
a wrongful or unlawful act, without legal justification or excuse and with ill will, whether
or not injury was intended.” Anderson v. City of Pocatello, 731 P.2d 171, 182–183 (Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 12
1987). For the purposes of the ITCA, “it shall be a rebuttable presumption that any act or
omission of an employee within the time and at the place of his employment is within the
course and scope of his employment and without malice or criminal intent.” Idaho Code
§ 6-903(5); see also Miller v. Idaho State Patrol, 252 P.3d 1274, 1288 (Idaho 2011)
(explaining that the burden is on the plaintiff to show that the defendant acted maliciously
or with criminal intent).
Hanson alleges that Wayt was acting within the course of his employment for
Idaho Department of Corrections. However, his Complaint lacks enough facts to rebut the
presumption that he was acting without malice or criminal intent. The Complaint fails
even to use these words in relation to the state law offenses.
Wayt arrested Hanson for a parole violation and transported him to jail without his
prescription eye drops. There are no allegations establishing this was a criminal act.
Likewise, there are no allegations that Wayt acted with malice towards Hanson by
refusing to take his prescription eye drops to the county jail. Therefore, Wayt is entitled
to immunity under the ITCA.
IT IS ORDERED:
1. Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 17) is GRANTED for Defendants
Ramsey, Gough, Shubert, and Gonzalez and the state law claims are
dismissed without leave to amend.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 13
2. Defendant Wayt’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 30) is GRANTED with leave
to amend as explained above.
3. If Plaintiff chooses to file an amended complaint to correct the deficiencies
noted herein, he must do so within twenty (20) days after the date of this
DATED: August 28, 2017
B. Lynn Winmill
United States District Court
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER - 14
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