United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Raner C. Collins Senior United States District
before the Court is Defendants Juan C. Hoke and Cochise
County's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended
Complaint. (Doc. 19.) Plaintiff filed a response (Doc. 20),
and Defendants a reply (Doc. 21). The matter is fully
briefed, and the Court finds that oral argument is not
necessary for a fair adjudication. LRCiv 7.2(f). Because
Defendant Hoke is entitled to qualified immunity, the Court
will grant the Motion to Dismiss.
Factual Allegations in Second Amended Complaint
alleges that on a Friday night in October 2017, he was at the
Doc Holliday's Saloon in Tombstone with his wife. He had
checked two guns at the bar. Plaintiff encountered an
argument, exchanged words with some patrons, and took out a
folding knife -though he claims he never opened it. (Doc. 16
at ¶VI, ¶VII(6).) The bartender then asked him to
leave and returned Plaintiff's guns. But, while still
inside the bar, Plaintiff put one gun in his holster, and
“began to put the cylinder back into the blackpowder
pistol, [when] the bartender sa[id] she told him not to load
his gun in the bar.” Id. at ¶VII, 5. At
that point, another patron pushed past a security guard,
grabbed the .45 caliber from Plaintiff's holster, and
struck Plaintiff with the butt of the gun while other patrons
joined in, beating and kicking Plaintiff. Id. at
¶VI, VII. To defend himself, Plaintiff fired the second
pistol towards the ceiling; attempting to fire a warning
shot. He then fired another shot that hit one of the
assailants in the calf. Id. at ¶ VI, VII.
was arrested and detained in relation to the incident.
Second Amended Complaint raises claims against lead Detective
Hoke in his personal and official capacity and Cochise County
for False Imprisonment, False Arrest, Negligence, Negligent
Failure to Supervise, and a §1983 claim in conjunction
with his arrest and detention as a result of this incident.
Standard of Review
motion under 12(b)(6) must contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While Rule 8 does not
require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more
than an unadorned, the defendant unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). “[A] complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible
“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. The
complaint must contain more than “a statement of facts
that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable
right of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp., 550
U.S. at 555. “Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context- specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679. So, although a plaintiff's specific
factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional
claim, a court must assess whether there are other
“more likely explanations” for a defendant's
conduct. Id. at 681.
plaintiff “fails to state a claim on which relief may
be granted, ” the District Court must dismiss the
claim. 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). While dismissal is
appropriate if the complaint's deficiencies cannot be
cured by amendment, if the pleading can be remedied through
the addition of facts, the claimant should be granted an
opportunity to amend a complaint prior to final dismissal.
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir.
2000). However, the Court has broad authority to deny leave
to amend where the claimant has been previously permitted to
amend the complaint. Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe v.
United States, 90 F.3d 351, 355 (9th Cir. 1996).
whether officials are owed qualified immunity involves two
inquiries: (1) whether, taken in the light most favorable to
the party asserting the injury, the facts alleged show the
officer's conduct violated a constitutional right; and
(2) if so, whether the right was clearly established in light
of the specific context of the case.” O'Brien
v. Welty, 818 F.3d 920, 936 (9th Cir. 2016) (citing
Krainski v. Nevada ex rel. Bd. of Regents of Nev. Sys. of
Higher Educ., 616 F.3d 963, 970 (9th Cir. 2010);
Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 735
(2011). To be clearly established, the right must be such
that “every reasonable official would have understood
that what he was doing violates that right.”
Reichle v. Howards, 566 U.S. 658, 664 (2012)
(quotation marks omitted). Indeed, the clearly established
law cannot be a generalized inquiry, but must be specific to
the facts of the instant case. White v. Pauly, 137
S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017). But, even when an officer has violated
a clearly established law, if the mistake was reasonable he
is still entitled to immunity. Sjurset v. Button,
810 F.3d 609, 621 (9th Cir. 2015); Blackenhorn v. City of
Orange, 485 F.3d 463, 471 (9th Cir. 2007). In fact,
qualified immunity covers “all but the plainly
incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”
Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986). A court
may grant a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity if
the court “can determine, based on the complaint
itself, that qualified immunity applies.” Groten v.
Calif., 251 F.3d 844, 851 (9th Cir. 2001).
arrest an individual, an officer must have a reasonable
belief, given the facts available at the time, that the
person committed or is committing a crime. Bailey v.
Newland, 263 F.3d 1022, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). This is an
objective standard based on the totality of the circumstances
at the time of arrest. D.C. v. Wesby, __ U.S. __,
138 S.Ct. 577, 586 (2018). Furthermore, the probable cause
threshold is low. Id.
makes two arguments why Defendant is not entitled to
qualified immunity. First, there was more information
available to Detective Hoke that Plaintiff had not committed
an offense. (Doc. 20 at 9-10.) Second, Detective Hoke's