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Brenda K. Garay, et al v. anderson Liriano

March 15, 2012

BRENDA K. GARAY, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ANDERSON LIRIANO, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James E. Boasberg United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On April 14, 2010, Plaintiffs Brenda Garay and her minor daughters Jennifer and Jessica were arrested in their apartment on Fairmont Street, Northwest, in the District of Columbia on the charge of assault. This occurred after two police officers, Defendants Anderson Liriano and Rafael Sarita, had arrived at the building and enlisted the assistance of the property manager, Tisa Wilson, in opening Plaintiffs' door.

Plaintiffs have now sued both officers, the District of Columbia, Wilson, and her employer Van Metre Columbia Uptown Apartments, L.L.C. for violations of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as for assorted common-law claims. Although the District and the officers have submitted an Answer, Wilson and Van Metre have now filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Court, agreeing with some of their arguments, will grant the Motion in part and deny it in part.

I. Background

According to the Third Amended Complaint, which must be presumed true for purposes of this Motion, when the officers arrived at Plaintiffs' apartment, they knocked on the door and informed Brenda that they were police officers. Compl. at 3. She refused to open the door and demanded a court order. Id. The officers then went to Defendant Wilson's office and asked her to open the door. Id. She told them that she usually did not do so without a warrant, but "the officers kept insisting that [she] open the door, or they will break it down." Id. She then opened the door with her key, and the officers arrested Brenda and Jennifer. Id. at 4-5. Jessica was arrested later, and Jennifer subsequently was released. Id. at 5. Plaintiffs allege that this arrest for the misdemeanor of simple assault was without probable cause. Id.

Plaintiffs then brought this suit, asserting claims for violations of § 1983 against all Defendants except Van Metre, false arrest and imprisonment against the officers and the District, intentional infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants, malicious prosecution against the officers and the District, and invasion of privacy and trespass against all Defendants.

The District and the officers have filed an Answer, but Wilson and Van Metre have now moved to dismiss the four counts asserted against them.

II.Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of an action where a complaint fails to "state a claim upon which relief can be granted." When the sufficiency of a complaint is challenged under Rule 12(b)(6), the factual allegations presented in it must be presumed true and should be liberally construed in plaintiff's favor. Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993). Although the notice pleading rules are "not meant to impose a great burden on a plaintiff," Dura Pharm., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347 (2005), and "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), "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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (internal quotation omitted). Plaintiff must put forth "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Though a plaintiff may survive a 12(b)(6) motion even if "recovery is very remote and unlikely," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)), the facts alleged in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555.

III.Analysis

Plaintiffs' § 1983 claim is brought against Wilson alone. Three additional counts are asserted here against both Wilson and Van Metre: intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), invasion of privacy, and trespass. The Court will deal with each of the four in turn.

A. § 1983

Plaintiffs' first cause of action against Wilson (but not Van Metre) is for a violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Section 1983 provides for a cause of action against [e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction ...


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