Dedelow v. City of Heber et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER granting Defendants' 9 19 Motions to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Signed by Judge Ted Stewart on 11/25/13. (ss)
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS TO
CITY OF HEBER, WASATCH COUNTY,
AND JOHN DOES 1—2,
Case No. 2:13-CV-00584 TS
District Judge Ted Stewart
This matter is before the Court on Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendants City of Heber
and Wasatch County. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant Defendants’
The following facts are taken from Plaintiff’s Complaint and are accepted as true for the
purposes of this Motion.
Plaintiff Ryan Dedelow (“Mr. Dedelow”) was cited for speeding in Heber City (the
“City”) on April 25, 2004. His citation was additionally filed in Wasatch County (the “County”).
Though Mr. Dedelow paid the citation to the City within the allotted time, the City failed to
notify the County that the citation had been resolved. This resulted in an active arrest warrant for
Mr. Dedelow was stopped for a minor traffic violation where a warrant check revealed an
active, eight-year-old arrest warrant. He was subsequently arrested and booked into jail. His
pregnant wife was left at the side of the highway in Sardine Canyon and required to find her own
way home. Mr. Dedelow alleges that he suffered embarrassment and humiliation as a result of
being arrested, booked into jail, and having his new wife’s family bail him out and pick him up
Mr. Dedelow was required to post bond to secure his release from jail and was required
to hire an attorney. Mr. Dedelow was required to appear before the County court to have the
arrest warrant dismissed, which resulted in Mr. Dedelow missing work and school. At the
hearing, the court informed him that the warrant was valid and that it resulted from a mistake by
the City and not the County.
Mr. Dedelow brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming the City “failed to
notify Wasatch County that the citation had been appropriately resolved.” 1 He also claims the
County “failed to inquire into whether the citation had been resolved, keeping an arrest warrant
active for eight years.” 2 Therefore, Plaintiff alleges that the City and County Defendants
“negligently failed to ensure their employees followed proper administrative procedures.” 3
Mr. Dedelow brought suit on June 27, 2013. The City and County now move for
dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims.
Docket No. 2, ¶13.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted under Rule 12(b)(6), all well-pleaded factual allegations, as distinguished from
conclusory allegations, are accepted as true and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff as
the nonmoving party. 4 Plaintiff must provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face,” 5 which requires “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully
harmed-me accusation.” 6 “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’ Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’” 7 A facially plausible
claim must “ask for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” 8
Mr. Dedelow asserts that a Rule 12(b)(6) motion should be granted “only when it appears
that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claims that would entitle him to
relief.” 9 However, the Supreme Court has since clarified in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly that
“this famous observation has earned its retirement.” 10 The quote from Conley v. Gibson, 11
GFF Corp. v. Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., 130 F.3d 1381, 1384 (10th Cir.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007).
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in original).
Docket No. 15, at 2.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563.
355 U.S. 41, 45—46 (1957).
“described the breadth of opportunity to prove what an adequate complaint claims, not the
minimum standard of adequate pleading to govern a complaint’s survival.” 12 Thus, the threshold
requirement of Rule 8(a)(2) requires that there must be enough factual allegations to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level. 13 Mr. Dedelow must provide enough facts to “nudge [his]
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” 14
To maintain a claim for municipal liability under § 1983, a plaintiff must show
“deliberate action attributable to the municipality itself [as] the ‘moving force’ behind the
plaintiff’s deprivation of federal rights.” 15 Deliberate action by a municipality can be evidenced
by “(1) the existence of a municipal custom or policy and (2) a direct causal link between the
custom or policy and the violation alleged.” 16 If the plaintiff asserts the alleged custom or policy
comprised a failure to train, he or she must demonstrate such failure reflects the municipality’s
“deliberate indifference to the rights of the plaintiff.” 17
Deliberate indifference can be shown where the municipality “has actual or constructive
notice that its action or failure to act is substantially certain to result in a constitutional violation,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563.
Id. at 555.
Id. at 570.
Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs of Bryan Cnty., Okl. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 400 (1997).
Jenkins v. Wood, 81 F.3d 988, 993 (10th Cir. 1996).
Id. at 994.
and it consciously or deliberately chooses to disregard the risk of harm.” 18 The municipality is
on notice where there is a pattern of unconstitutional behavior or if a violation of federal rights is
“highly predictable” or “plainly obvious” due to the municipality’s failure to train, “such as
when a municipality fails to train an employee in specific skills needed to handle recurring
situations, thus presenting an obvious potential for constitutional violations.” 19 An inadequate
training claim under § 1983 is only available in limited circumstances and a plaintiff must
demonstrate that failure to provide adequate training represents “a policy for which the city is
responsible, and for which the city may be held liable if it actually causes injury.” 20
Here, Mr. Dedelow’s Complaint cannot survive a motion to dismiss because it lacks
factual allegations to support a plausible claim of relief under § 1983. Mr. Dedelow alleges that
the City failed to notify the County that the citation had been resolved and that the County failed
to investigate whether the citation had been resolved. Mr. Dedelow contends that these alleged
facts, “along with the reasonable inferences taken from them,” show that the City and County
“have a basic administrative policy to notify other interested police departments when a citation
is resolved.” 21 Failure to act on that alleged policy resulted in unconstitutional arrest and
confinement of Mr. Dedelow. Further, Plaintiff alleges that “the gross and negligent character of
the [Defendants’] alleged actions, along with the foreseeable consequences of that neglect
Barney v. Pulsipher, 143 F.3d 1299, 1307 (10th Cir. 1998).
Id. at 1308.
City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 390 (1989).
Docket No. 15, at 3.
outlined in Complaint ¶¶ 15-26 [give] rise to an inference of an allegation of deliberate
Mr. Dedelow’s allegations center on the theory of inadequate training—that the
municipal custom or policy itself comprised a failure to act, which was the result of a deliberate
indifference to the rights of Plaintiff. However, the Complaint lacks facts supporting the
allegation of deliberate indifference. Mr. Dedelow provides no factual allegations of a pattern of
unconstitutional arrest and detention resulting from failure to resolve traffic citations that would
put Defendants on notice. The Complaint also lacks facts supporting an allegation that
Defendants failed to train their employees to follow proper procedures in recurrent situations that
present an obvious potential for constitutional violations. Without more, Defendant’s failure to
act in this instance does not suggest a custom or policy of inadequate training as a result of
deliberate indifference to the rights of Plaintiff. As the Supreme Court has stated, “adequately
trained officers occasionally make mistakes; the fact that they do says little about the training
program or the legal basis for holding the city liable.” 23 An allegation of failure to act is much
like a naked assertion: “it gets the complaint close to stating a claim, but without some further
factual enhancement it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement
to relief.’” 24 Therefore, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint.
Id. at 4; Docket No. 20, at 4.
Canton, 489 U.S. at 391.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557.
The County requests the Court dismiss Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages, arguing
that a municipality is immune from punitive damages. The Court need not address the issue of
punitive damages because the Court will dismiss the Complaint in its entirety.
It is therefore
ORDERED that Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss (Docket Nos. 9 and 19) are
GRANTED. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case forthwith.
DATED November 25, 2013.
BY THE COURT:
United States District Judge
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