Mendoza v. United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER- The plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaint, Filing No. 39 , is granted. The plaintiffs shall file an amended complaint on or before September 18, 2013. ICE's motion to dismiss the original complaint, Filing N o. 16 , is denied as moot. The magistrate judge's findings of law and fact, Filing No. 28 , are adopted in their entirety. The plaintiffs' objection to the magistrate judge's order to stay discovery, Filing No. 33 , is overruled, pending ICEs filing a renewed motion to dismiss.. Davis's objection to a portion of the relief sought, Filing No. 30 , is overruled for the reasons set forth herein. Ordered by Judge Joseph F. Bataillon. (MKR)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
RAMON MENDOZA and LAURA MENDOZA,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND
CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, JOHN DOES,
#1-5, JEFF DAVIS, Sheriff, Sarpy County,
Nebraska; and JOHN DOES, #6-10,
This case is before the court on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
(ICE) motion to dismiss (Filing No. 16) and the plaintiffs’ objection (Filing No. 33) to the
magistrate judge’s order to stay discovery (Filing No. 28). In addition, Sarpy County
Sheriff Jeff Davis (Davis) objects to a portion of the relief sought. Filing No. 30. The
plaintiffs also move to amend their original complaint. Filing No. 39.
On March 5, 2010, police officers stopped Ramon Mendoza (Mr. Mendoza) in
Sarpy County, Nebraska. The officers stopped Mr. Mendoza because there was a
medal dangling from his rear view mirror that was a potential obstruction to driver
visibility. After stopping Mr. Mendoza, the officers learned that he was driving without a
current driver’s license or proof of insurance. The officers took Mr. Mendoza to Sarpy
County jail and booked him.
Mr. Mendoza is a United States citizen of Mexican
descent. He truthfully answered the officers’ questions when they asked for his Social
Security number and other biographical information.
After answering these questions, Mr. Mendoza was detained in a jail cell. John
Does 6-10, who were Sarpy County jail employees, contacted ICE to determine if there
was a detainer on Mr. Mendoza.1 John Does 1-5, who were ICE employees, informed
John Does 6-10 that there was a detainer on Mr. Mendoza.2 John Does 1-5 were
incorrect in making this assertion. Mr. Mendoza was unable to post bond due to the
alleged ICE detainer upon him.
John Does 6-10 held Mr. Mendoza in Sarpy County jail for nearly four days. Mr.
Mendoza alleges that John Does 6-10 subjected him to multiple insults, most of which
were racially motivated. Mr. Mendoza also claims that John Does 6-10 told him that he
would serve a ten-year federal prison sentence and then be deported to Mexico. Mr.
Mendoza’s family brought his certificate of citizenship, Social Security card, birth
certificate, marriage license, and U.S. passport to Sarpy County jail on multiple
occasions to attempt to prove Mr. Mendoza’s citizenship. Despite the family’s efforts,
John Does 6-10 refused to review these documents or allow Mr. Mendoza to post bond.
Additionally, Mr. Mendoza was not allowed to see his family, use a telephone, go into
the common areas of the jail, or contact legal counsel.
On May 8, 2010 (the fourth day of his detention), Mr. Mendoza cut one of his
wrists in an attempt to commit suicide. On that same day, John Does 1-5 transmitted a
document to Sarpy County jail stating that ICE did not actually have a detainer on Mr.
ICE issues “detainers” on individuals to inform other agencies that the individual may not be in
the United States legally and are potentially subject to arrest and deportation.
The plaintiffs’ original complaint (Filing No. 1 ¶19) alleged that John Does 1-5 stated that they
could not conclusively confirm a detainer. However, the Sarpy County Sheriff states that John Does 1-5
affirmatively represented that there was a detainer on Mendoza (Filing No. 19 ¶14). The plaintiffs and the
magistrate judge have since adopted the latter version of the facts.
Mendoza. The document was dated March 5, 2010, the day of Mr. Mendoza’s original
detention. John Does 6-10 released Mr. Mendoza after receiving the document. Upon
being released, Mr. Mendoza’s wife took him to the hospital, where he was treated for
dehydration and emotion distress.
Mr. Mendoza alleges that he continues to experience anxiety and depression as
a result of the incident. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due
to his detention. Mr. Mendoza claims that he is unable to work due to these conditions.
His wife, Laura Mendoza (Mrs. Mendoza), joined the workforce to replace the lost
income and support their family. In addition, Mr. Mendoza states that his family ceased
to feel safe in Nebraska as a result of this incident, and his family has since moved out
of state for this reason.
Mr. Mendoza forwarded an administrative claim to ICE on March 3, 2011. ICE
subsequently denied the claim on February 1, 2012. In response to the denial of their
administrative claim, Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza filed a complaint against ICE, John Does 15, John Does 1-6, and the Sarpy County Sheriff on February 28, 2013. Filing No. 1.
The complaint lists six separate theories of relief. The first fives theories seek damages
pursuant to 42 U.S.C § 1983, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b) & 2680 et seq. (the Federal Tort
Claims Act), and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 13-901 et seq. (the Nebraska Political Subdivisions
Tort Claims Act). The sixth theory of relief is a loss of consortium claim on behalf of
Mrs. Mendoza. See id.
ICE moves to dismiss, claiming that the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject
matter of this action. Filing No. 16. In its motion to dismiss, ICE establishes several
areas in which the plaintiffs’ original complaint is deficient. See id. ICE also filed a
motion to stay discovery concurrently with its motion to dismiss. See Filing No. 20.
This motion allegedly prevents the plaintiff from determining the identities of John Does
1-5. The magistrate judge granted the motion to stay discovery. Filing No. 28. The
plaintiffs object to the magistrate judge’s order. Filing No. 33. In response to ICE’s
motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs move to amend their complaint. Filing No. 39.
In addition to ICE’s motions, Jeffery Davis (Davis), the Sarpy County Sheriff,
objects to a portion of the relief the plaintiffs seek in a reply brief. Filing No. 30, see
Filing No. 29 at 6. Davis contends that Sarpy County should not be required to reveal
the identities of John Does 6-10, as the individuals may never have engaged in the
conduct the plaintiffs allege. See id. Davis also argues that John Does 6-10 might no
longer work at the Sarpy County jail. See id. Finally, Davis argues that the plaintiffs
should be able to deduce their identities through documentation previously provided to
them. See id.
A. Motion to amend complaint (Filing No. 39)
A district court should freely give leave to amend a complaint when justice so
requires. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). ICE argues that allowing Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza to
amend their complaint at this stage is unfairly prejudicial for the defendants. However,
the court notes that it is still very early in these proceedings, and the court finds little
evidence to suggest that ICE would suffer prejudice if the plaintiffs are allowed to
amend their complaint. “A decision whether to allow a party to amend her complaint is
left to the sound discretion of the district court . . . ” Popoalii v. Correctional Medical
Services, 512 F.3d 488, 497 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing Bell v. Allstate Life Ins. Co., 160 F.3d
452, 454 (8th Cir. 1998)). Thus, the court grants the plaintiffs’ motion to amend (Filing
No. 39). The plaintiffs will have five days to file their amended complaint from the date
that this memorandum and order is issued.
B. ICE’s motion to dismiss (Filing No. 16)
Because the court grants Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza’s motion to amend the
complaint (Filing No. 39), ICE’s motion to dismiss the original complaint (Filing No. 16)
is moot. Once the plaintiffs file an amended complaint, ICE may submit a renewed
motion to dismiss that is responsive to the amended complaint.
C. Objection to the magistrate judge’s order (Filing No. 33)
The magistrate judge ordered a stay of all discovery in this case pending a
resolution on ICE’s motion to dismiss.
See Filing No. 28.
The court affirms the
magistrate judge’s findings of law and fact in their entirety. In this case, the pending
motion to dismiss is a proper reason to stay discovery. The court also agrees with the
magistrate judge’s finding that the plaintiffs suffer no undue prejudice as a result of the
stay on discovery. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ objection to the order (Filing No. 33) is
overruled pending ICE’s filing a renewed motion to dismiss based on the amended
complaint. If ICE does not file a renewed motion to dismiss in response to the amended
complaint, the magistrate judge will lift the stay on discovery. If ICE does file a new
motion to dismiss, the court will rule on the motion at that time.
D. Davis’s objection to a portion of the relief sought (Filing No. 30)
In one of their briefs, the plaintiffs request that the court order ICE and Davis to
reveal the identities of all John Does in this case. See Filing No. 29. Davis objects to
this request, arguing he should not be required to disclose the identities of John Does 65
10. The court will not order Davis to reveal the identities of John Does 6-10 based upon
a request in a brief. This is a matter more appropriately settled through the discovery
process. Contrary to Davis’s argument, however, a Sarpy County jail file provided to
the plaintiffs’ attorney almost two years ago is not a sufficient substitute for discovery.
The discovery process is also the most effective tool for the plaintiffs to determine if
John Does 6-10 actually engaged in the conduct alleged. Finally, the court concludes
that the fact that some or all of John Does 6-10 may no longer work at Sarpy County jail
Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza’s motion to amend their complaint is granted (Filing No.
39). ICE’s motion to dismiss the original complaint (Filing No. 16) is denied as moot.
The magistrate judge’s findings of law and fact are adopted in their entirety (Filing No.
28), and the plaintiffs’ objection to the judge’s order to stay discovery (Filing No. 33) is
overruled pending ICE’s filing a renewed motion to dismiss. Davis’s objection to a
portion of the relief sought (Filing No. 30) is overruled at this time.
THEREFORE IT IS ORDERED:
1. The plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint, Filing No. 39, is granted.
2. The plaintiffs shall file an amended complaint on or before September 18,
3. ICE’s motion to dismiss the original complaint, Filing No. 16, is denied as
4. The magistrate judge’s findings of law and fact, Filing No. 28, are adopted in
5. The plaintiffs’ objection to the magistrate judge’s order to stay discovery,
Filing No. 33, is overruled, pending ICE’s filing a renewed motion to dismiss.
6. Davis’s objection to a portion of the relief sought, Filing No. 30, is overruled
for the reasons set forth herein.
Dated this 3rd day of September, 2013.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Joseph F. Bataillon
United States District Judge
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