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Fairbanks v. Canyon County

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 10, 2018

DALE FAIRBANKS, an individual, Plaintiff,
CANYON COUNTY, a political subdivision of the state of Idaho, STEVE RULE, TOM DALE, and PAM WHITE, in their individual and official capacities as MEMBERS OF THE CANYON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS; KIERAN DONAHUE, in his official capacity as the SHERIFF OF CANYON COUNTY; CODY FRAILEY, and CHRISTOPHER ODENBERG, in their individual and official capacities as Deputy Sheriffs with Canyon County, Defendants.


          Honorable Edward J. Lodge, U.S. District Judge.


         Before the Court in the above entitled matter is the Defendants' Motion for Partial Dismissal. (Dkt. 11.) The parties have filed responsive briefing and the Motion is ripe for the Court's consideration. Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument.


         The underlying facts giving rise to this § 1983 action occurred on August 21, 2015 at approximately 4:30 p.m. when two Canyon County Deputy Sheriffs, Cody Frailey and Christopher Odenberg, arrived at the Plaintiff's, Dale Fairbanks, home in Nampa, Idaho. The Deputies were investigating a report of domestic violence made by Mr. Fairbanks' then-girlfriend that had allegedly occurred several weeks prior. (Dkt. 1.)

         When the Deputies arrived at the residence, Mr. Fairbanks met them in his yard. The Deputies informed Mr. Fairbanks of the purpose for their visit and the nature of the domestic violence report. Mr. Fairbanks states he was polite, cooperative, and responsive to the Deputies inquiries. (Dkt. 1.) After a period of time, the Deputies stated that detectives at the police station wanted Mr. Fairbanks to come in for further questioning. Mr. Fairbanks then stated “this isn't happening” and returned to the inside of his residence. The parties offer differing accounts of what happened next.

         In general, Mr. Fairbanks re-entered his home from the back door, then exited his home from the garage door, moved/repositioned one of his vehicles, and then encountered the Deputies again in his front yard. During that encounter, both Deputies deployed their tasers into Mr. Fairbanks who pulled the taser wires out of his body. The officers also directed Mr. Fairbanks to “get on the ground” to which Mr. Fairbanks responded he was unable to because of his prior knee surgery. When Deputy Frailey grabbed Mr. Fairbank's left wrist and placed a handcuff on it, Mr. Fairbanks pulled his left arm forward and the two struggled. Deputy Odenberg allegedly struck Mr. Fairbanks with his baton during this time. Ultimately, Mr. Fairbanks was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car.

         On December 8, 2015, Mr. Fairbanks plead guilty in state court to two misdemeanor counts of resisting and obstructing officers and was sentenced to 365 days incarceration with 361 days suspended, ordered to pay a fine and costs, $1, 338.90 in restitution, and serve two years of unsupervised probation. On November 6, 2017, the state court granted Mr. Fairbanks' Motion for Early Termination of Unsupervised Probation and dismissed the matter pursuant to a grant of the withheld judgment. (Dkt. 24, Att. A.)

         On August 16, 2017, Mr. Fairbanks, filed his Complaint in this matter. The first five causes of action raise claims under § 1983 against Deputies Frailey and Odenberg in their individual and official capacities for: 1) Wrongful Seizure without probable cause, 2) False Arrest, 3) Excessive Force as to the use of Tasers and Batons, 4) Excessive Force as to Handcuffing, and 5) Unlawful Search of Residence in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Dkt. 1.) The sixth and seventh causes of action allege claims against Canyon County and the named Canyon County Commissioners in their individual and official capacities for: 1) Unconstitutional County Policy or Custom and 2) Negligent Failure to Supervise or Train. (Dkt. 1.)

         Defendants filed this Motion for Partial Dismissal seeking to dismiss the first and second causes of action against the Deputies and dismissal of the sixth and seventh causes of action against the County Commissioners in both their individual and official capacities. (Dkt. 11.) For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the Motion.


         A motion to dismiss made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a party's claim for relief. When considering such a motion, the Court's inquiry is whether the allegations in a pleading are sufficient under applicable pleading standards. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) sets forth minimum pleading rules, requiring only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         In general, a motion to dismiss will only be granted if the complaint fails to allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). Although “we must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Therefore, “conclusory ...

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