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Snider v. Yates

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

November 21, 2013

VAUGHN L. SNIDER, Plaintiff,
v.
TAFT YATES, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Richard D. Rogers United States District Judge

Plaintiff, pro se, has been granted leave to file the complaint in this case in forma pauperis. The complaint (Doc. No. 1) consists of: a civil complaint form supplied by the court which plaintiff has completed; an attached Department of Justice form for making a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213; and a copy of a letter addressed to Olavee Raub in Ellis, Kansas which provides some factual detail regarding the matters concerned in the other documents.

The complaint names Taft Yates, the Ellis Police Department Chief, as defendant. It lists plaintiff’s claims as: 1) false imprisonment; 2) use of handcuffs; 3) disallowing medical supplies; and 4) disability discrimination under the ADA. Plaintiff has not provided any significant factual detail in either the complaint form supplied by the court or the Department of Justice form. But, the letter to Ms. Raub supplies information which the court shall treat as part of the complaint’s factual allegations.

The letter to Ms. Raub indicates that on November 9, 2012 plaintiff was overheard making a remark which was apparently reported as a suicide threat to the Ellis, Kansas police department. Plaintiff was thereafter “confronted by three police officers” while he was drinking coffee at a Love’s Travel Plaza. Plaintiff denied that he was a threat to himself or anyone else, but defendant Yates insisted that he accompany Yates to the High Plains Mental Health Center. Plaintiff “complied.” After his interview at the mental health center, defendant Yates handcuffed plaintiff and transported him to Larned State Hospital. Plaintiff alleges that he objected to being forced to go to the hospital and that it was “unprofessional and unnecessary” that he be handcuffed, as he had already been searched twice for a weapon. In addition, plaintiff alleges that he has been partially paralyzed for 37 years and presented no danger to himself or Yates. Plaintiff claims that he asked that Yates allow plaintiff to go home or accompany plaintiff to plaintiff’s home, so that plaintiff could collect medical supplies necessary for plaintiff to void his bladder without assistance. This request was refused.

This case is before the court upon defendant’s motion to dismiss. Defendant contends that the court should dismiss this action because: the complaint fails to conform to basic pleading standards; qualified immunity protects defendant from liability; and defendant cannot be found liable under the ADA.

I. RULE 12(b)(6) STANDARDS.

FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of actions for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. “To survive a motion to dismiss [under Rule 12(b)(6)], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotation omitted). The court must not “weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but . . . assess whether the plaintiff’s complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” Cohon v. New Mexico Dept. of Health, 646 F.3d 717, 724 (10th Cir. 2011) (interior quotations omitted).

The Supreme Court has stated that plausibility requires that the allegations of a complaint should “raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting the elements of the claims, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007), and “allo[w] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “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. (internal quotations and citations omitted).

The Tenth Circuit has elaborated upon the plausibility standard as follows:

we have concluded the Twombly/Iqbal standard is a middle ground between heightened fact pleading, which is expressly rejected, and allowing complaints that are no more than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, which the Court stated will not do.

Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012)(interior quotations and citation omitted).

Exhibits attached to a complaint are treated as part of the pleadings for purposes of ruling on a motion to dismiss. Tal v. Hogan, 453 F.3d 1244, 1264 n. 24 (10th Cir. 2006) cert. denied, 549 U.S. 2109 (2007). Normally, however, attached documents are “’considered only to show their contents, not to prove of the matters asserted therein.’” Id. (quoting Oxford Asset Mgmt., Ltd. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir. 2002)). As plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court construes his pleadings “liberally and holds [them] to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Riddle v. Mondragon, 83 F.3d 1197, 1202 (10th Cir. 1996). So, for the purposes of this opinion, the court shall treat the contents of the letter to Ms. Raub as part of the allegations of the complaint.

II. ANALYSIS OF DEFENDANT’S ARGUMENTS FOR DISMISSAL.

A. The complaint (with the letter to Ms. Raub) contains adequate factual detail and notice of claims under 42 U.S.C. ...


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