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Kangas v. Wright

United States District Court, D. Idaho

November 4, 2016

SEANJAY WRIGHT, an individual; Former Ada County Sheriff GARY RANEY, individually and in his official capacity; ADA COUNTY, a Political Subdivision of the State of Idaho, Defendants.




         Before the Court is Defendant Sheriff Raney's motion to dismiss, and Defendant Wright's motion for joinder. (Dkt. 23, 29.) Defendant Raney argues Plaintiffs complaint fails to state a claim against him, either in his official capacity or in his individual capacity, and requests the Court deny leave to amend.

         Having reviewed the briefs and the record, the Court finds the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the motion will be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument. Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1(d).


         According to the complaint, Plaintiff Cailyn Kangas was an inmate in the Ada County Jail between July 10, 2013, and November of 2014. She was convicted and sentenced on October 23, 2014, and remained at the Ada County Jail until her transfer to the Idaho State Correctional Facility in November of 2014.[1]At that time, Defendant Raney was the Ada County Sheriff, responsible for the management of the Ada County Jail. Defendant Wright was an Ada County Sheriffs Deputy responsible for supervising Kangas.

         Kangas alleges that, upon her detention at the Jail, Wright began giving her special attention and granting her special privileges or favors, for the purpose of grooming her to provide sexual favors. Kangas contends that other Sheriff's deputies commented on the amount of time Wright was spending in the laundry facility while Kangas was working there. She alleges also that other inmates complained to Jail deputies about Wright's favorable treatment of Kangas. And last, she alleges that, in November of 2013, Deputy Hickam noticed Wright engaged in conversation with Kangas, and asked if he was interrupting something. In December of 2013, Kangas asserts Wright led her to a closet in the laundry facility out of view of security cameras to engage in sexual relations with her, and that this happened on three occasions.

         On December 31, 2013, several Ada County Sheriff deputies took Kangas to a holding cell where she wrote a statement detailing the sexual contact between her and Wright. Raney thereafter housed Kangas in the medical dorm for five months, and Kangas alleged she was deprived of privileges. Kangas was told she was being housed in the medical dorm for an indeterminate amount of time for her safety and to avoid publicity.

         Based upon the facts in the complaint, it appears the events occurred while Kangas was a pretrial detainee at the Ada County Jail, since she was not convicted and sentenced until October 23, 2014, well after the December 2013 incidents happened.

         Kangas asserts a policy-based Eighth Amendment claim against Ada County and Sheriff Raney in his official capacity for failure to train or supervise employees, and an Eighth and First Amendment claim against Sheriff Raney in his individual capacity. Kangas contends she was not provided information pertaining to her right to be free from sexual assault, and the policy of allowing female inmates to be supervised by one male officer during overnight shifts created an unreasonable risk of harm to female inmates. Kangas asserts also that the lack of training led to a failure of jail staff to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and favoritism on the part of Ada County Jail deputies. And finally, Kangas alleges Sheriff Raney retaliated against Kangas for reporting the unlawful sexual contact by housing her indefinitely in the medical dormitory and removing privileges.

         Kangas next asserts several state law claims. First, she contends several provisions of the Idaho Constitution were violated, including the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment; unreasonable searches and seizures; due process; free speech; and the right to privacy. Next, she asserts two claims, as against Defendant Wright only- first, that his acts constituted negligence per se because his conduct constituted a violation of Idaho Code § 18-6110; and second, a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. As against all Defendants, which would include Sheriff Raney and Wright, Kangas brings claims of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.[2]


         1. Motion to Dismiss Standards

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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). Dismissal is appropriate if there is a lack of any cognizable legal theory or a failure to plead sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

         A complaint fails to state a claim for relief if the factual assertions in the complaint, taken as true, are insufficient for the reviewing court plausibly "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. In other words, although Rule 8 "does not require detailed factual allegations, ... it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are "merely consistent with a defendant's liability, " the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         2. Standard of Law for Section 1983 Claims

         Kangas brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute. To succeed on a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must establish a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute proximately caused by the conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). Prison officials are generally not liable for damages in their individual capacities under § 1983 unless they personally participated in the alleged constitutional violations. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009) ("[E]ach Government official, his or her title notwithstanding, is only liable for his or her own misconduct.").

         A. Entity Liability

         Kangas alleges Sheriff Raney violated the Eighth Amendment based upon a failure to train and supervise employees. Sheriff Raney asserts that the Eighth Amendment claim against him in his official capacity should be dismissed, because the suit for failure to train is properly brought against Ada County, not against Sheriff Raney. The complaint against Sheriff Raney in his official capacity, for failure to train, is properly dismissed, because the correct defendant is Ada County. Pauls v. Green, 816 F.Supp.2d 961, 971 (D. Idaho 2011); Cutler v. Kootenai County Sheriffs Dept, No. CV-08-193-N-EJL, 210 WL 2000042 *13 (D. Idaho May 19, 2010).

         Kangas next asserts an Eighth Amendment policy claim against Ada County based upon a failure to train theory.[3] To prevail on her Section 1983 claim against Ada County, Kangas must meet the test articulated mMonell v. Dept. of Social Servs.,436 U.S. 658, 690-94 (1978). Under Monell, the requisite elements of a § 1983 claim against a municipality or private entity performing a state function are the following: (1) the plaintiff was deprived of a constitutional right; (2) the municipality or entity had a policy or custom; (3) the policy or custom amounted to deliberate indifference to plaintiffs constitutional right; and (4) the policy or custom was the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Mabe v. San Bernardino Cnty.,237F.3dll01, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2001). A ...

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