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Bramhall v. West Valley City Police Department

United States District Court, D. Utah

January 25, 2019

EARL E. BRAMHALL, Plaintiff,
WEST VALLEY CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, COLLEEN JACOBS, police officer, TRAVIS PEARCE, police officer, ROBERT BOBROWSKI, police officer, NICOLAS COOK, police officer, et al., Defendants.

          District Judge Dee Benson.



         Cyprus Credit Union, Inc. and Brooke Bennion, (collectively the “Cyprus Defendants”) move the Court[1] to dismiss Plaintiff Earl E. Bramhall's Complaint. (Defs.' Cyprus Credit Union & Brooke Bennion's Mot. to Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss”), ECF No. 74.) The Cyprus Defendants argue this Court should dismiss Mr. Bramhall's claims and causes of action against them because (1) the statute of limitations bars his claims, (2) the Complaint alleges insufficient facts to support his causes of action against them, and (3) the Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to show personal or supervisory liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Mot. 3-6, ECF No. 74.) Having considered the parties' briefing and oral argument, the undersigned RECOMMENDS the District Judge GRANT the Cyprus Defendants' Motion because Mr. Bramhall's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which this Court can grant relief.


         On June 8, 2018, Mr. Bramhall, proceeding pro se in forma pauperis, filed a Complaint against thirty-five defendants, including the Cyprus Defendants. (See Compl., ECF No. 4.) Mr. Bramhall pleads eleven causes of action: (1) failure to read him his Miranda Rights, (2) misconduct of a public official, (3) willful neglect of duty, infliction of judicial improprieties, misconduct in office, (4) violation of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, violation of his Fifth Amendment rights, (5) brutal bungling, inept investigation, obstruction of justice, (6) excessive prosecutorial misconduct, cruel and unusual punishment, (7) threat of life imprisonment, unconstitutional delays, (8) tampering with evidence, loss of personal assets, (9) psychological waterboarding, (10) extensive vilification, and (11) arbitrariness actions. (Compl., ECF No. 4 at 31, 34-39.) None of these causes of action mentions the Cyprus Defendants.

         Mr. Bramhall's claims stem from a 2008 arrest and criminal prosecution for aggravated robbery and for making threats against life or property. (Id. at 3, 6-8, 19, 22-28; see also Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Jail Booking Record, Ex. C at 1, ECF No. 4-3.) Officers from the West Valley City Police Department suspected Mr. Bramhall of calling Cyprus Credit Union, demanding $100, 000 and telling the assistant bank manager he was a sharp shooter, and telling the manager he had a bomb within a seven-mile radius of the bank. (West Valley City Police Department CAD Master Call Table, Ex. O, 1-2, ECF No. 4-15; see also Compl., ECF No. 4 at 3, 6-8.) Mr. Bramhall spent fifty-three months and seventeen days in jail pretrial (Compl., ECF No. 4 at 28, 30) despite a jury finding him not guilty (id. at 27).

         In deciding a motion to dismiss the Court takes “as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in a complaint and view[s] the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). A court may consider exhibits attached to a Complaint when evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (stating “[i]n evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts may consider not only the complaint itself, but also attached exhibits … and documents incorporated into the complaint by reference.”) (citations omitted).

         Mr. Bramhall alleges Cyprus Credit Union “hired the defendant Brook Bennion without completing [a] thorough psychological evaluation.” (Compl., ECF No. 4 at 28.) Ms. Bennion, the then-Branch Manager of Cyprus Credit Union, allegedly made false accusations against him and committed perjury “in both trials against [him], ” which resulted in him serving fifty-three months and seventeen days in jail pretrial and the loss of both his home and business. (Id. at 28-30.) Mr. Bramhall is unable to work and currently receives Social Security benefits as a result of the medical and psychological injuries he sustained at the hands of the Cyprus Defendants. (Id. at 41.)


         The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally and holds them to a “less stringent standard.” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1096 (quoting Garrett v. Selby, Connor, Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted)). However, the Court cannot act as an advocate for pro se litigants who must comply with the fundamental requirements of the Rules. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991); Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007) (“[T]his court has repeatedly insisted that pro se parties follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants.”) (quoting Garrett, 425 F.3d at 840). Thus, a pro se plaintiff still has “‘the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.'” Jenkins v. Currier, 514 F.3d 1030, 1032 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110). Pro se plaintiffs' claims should survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “despite the plaintiff's failure to cite proper legal authority, his confusion of various legal theories, his poor syntax and sentence construction, or his unfamiliarity with pleading requirements.” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1096 (quoting Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110). However, “the court cannot take on the responsibility of serving as the litigant's attorney in constructing arguments and searching the record.” Garrett, 425 F.3d at 840; see also Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1175 (10th Cir. 1997) (noting court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a [pro se] plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.”).

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must allege “‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Hogan v. Winder, 762 F.3d 1096, 1104 (10th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (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.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true the well-pled factual allegations and views the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Wilson v. Montano, 715 F.3d 847, 852 (10th Cir. 2013). “[A] plaintiff must offer specific factual allegations to support each claim.” Kan. Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1214 (10th Cir. 2011) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A complaint survives only if it “‘states a plausible claim for relief, '” though courts recognize that “[t]he nature and specificity of the allegations required to state a plausible claim will vary based on context.” Id. at 1214-15 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).


         A. Mr. Bramhall's Complaint Fails to Plead State Action under § 1983

         The Cyprus Defendants argue Mr. Bramhall's Complaint “fails to provide plausible notice of actual cognizable claims against them.” (Mot. 5, ECF No. 74.) The Cyprus Defendants specifically argue Mr. Bramhall's Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to establish Ms. Bennion's personal liability or Cyprus Credit Union's supervisory liability under § 1983. (Id.) Mr. Bramhall counters he “has in fact given facts of both defendants, Cyprus Credit Union, Brooke Bennion, and their inappropriate, inhumane actions said defendant subjected [him] to.” (Pl.'s Reply to Defs.' Cyprus Credit Union, Brooke Bennion Mot. to Dismiss ...

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