United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
DISMISS [ECF NO. 12]
A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arises out
of the arrest of Cristhian Sampedro (“Mr.
Sampedro”) by defendant Trooper Benjamin Kores
(“Trooper Kores”), a member of the Connecticut
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
(“DESPP”). Mr. Sampedro alleges that Trooper
Kores violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as the
Connecticut Constitution during his arrest. Mr. Sampedro also
brings a claim against Trooper Kores, Commissioner Dora B.
Schriro, Colonel Jeffrey Dubuc, and Sergeant Alaric Fox
(collectively, the “Defendants”) seeking a
declaratory judgment that Trooper Kores' conduct violated
his constitutional rights as averred as well as permanent
injunctive relief “as to all future conduct, training
and policy administration, as relates to the detention of
Connecticut residents without legal immigration
status.” Trooper Kores is sued in both his individual
and official capacities, while Schriro, Fox, and Dubuc are
sued in their official capacities. Trooper Kores has moved to
dismiss this action pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. He argues that he is entitled to
qualified immunity or, alternatively, that Mr. Sampedro has
failed to plead a plausible constitutional violation for each
of the claims against him. All of the Defendants have moved
to dismiss Mr. Sampedro's request for declaratory and
injunctive relief for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
For the foregoing reasons, the Defendants' motion to
dismiss is GRANTED.
Allegations and Procedural History
purposes of this motion, the Court accepts the allegations in
the Complaint as true and they are set forth as follows. On
June 9, 2017, Mr. Sampedro was driving on Interstate 91 in
Connecticut when he briefly fell asleep at the wheel and
struck the trailer of another motorist. (Compl. at
¶¶ 9-14.) Shortly thereafter, Trooper Kores
responded to the accident scene. (Id. at ¶ 20.)
He asked Mr. Sampedro for his license, registration, and
insurance. (Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.) When Mr.
Sampedro admitted that he did not have a driver's
license, Trooper Kores asked for another form of
identification. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Mr. Sampedro
offered his Mexican consular identification
card. (Id. at ¶ 24.) Trooper Kores
then returned to his vehicle where he appeared to be speaking
to someone on his radio. (Id. at ¶ 26.)
approximately forty minutes, Trooper Kores went to speak to
the other driver and permitted him to leave the accident
scene. (Id. at ¶ 27.) Trooper Kores next
approached Mr. Sampedro, placed him under arrest, and seated
him in the back of his cruiser. (Id. at ¶ 28.)
Approximately thirty minutes later, a tow truck and two
unmarked vans arrived at the scene. (Id. at ¶
32.) Two officers from ICE identified themselves, approached
the cruiser, and took custody of Mr. Sampedro. (Id.
at ¶ 33.) Thereafter, removal proceedings were initiated
against Mr. Sampedro. (Id. at ¶ 43.)
the allegations in a light most favorable to Mr. Sampedro,
the Court infers that Trooper Kores investigated Mr.
Sampedro's identification and in doing so learned that he
was not lawfully residing in the United States. The Court
further infers that Trooper Kores directly or indirectly
contacted United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(“ICE”) and then waited for ICE officials to
arrive on scene to take custody of Mr. Sampedro.
January 15, 2018, Mr. Sampedro filed a four-count civil
rights action. In the first three counts, he alleges that
Trooper Kores violated his Fourth Amendment right against
unlawful seizure (Count I), his Fourteenth Amendment equal
protections rights (Count II), and his rights against
unlawful seizure and excessive force under the Connecticut
Constitution (Count III). In Count IV, which is brought
against all four defendants, Mr. Sampedro seeks a declaration
that Trooper Kores' conduct violated his constitutional
rights and permanent injunctive relief precluding DESPP from
acting in a similar fashion in the future with respect to all
Connecticut citizens without legal status in the United
April 13, 2018, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
Complaint in its entirety. Trooper Kores argues that he is
entitled to qualified immunity as to each claim against him.
Trooper Kores further argues that Mr. Sampedro has failed to
allege a plausible violation of the Fourth Amendment or the
Connecticut Constitution because probable cause existed to
arrest Mr. Sampedro. All of the Defendants have moved to
dismiss Count IV pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment to the
United States Constitution for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. They further move to dismiss Mr. Sampedro's
request for injunctive relief for lack of standing.
threshold matter, the Defendants moved to dismiss the
complaint pursuant to only Rule 12(b)(6), but their motion
also challenges this Court's subject matter jurisdiction
with respect to Count IV. Subject matter jurisdiction is
properly challenged pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1); see Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d
110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000) (“A case is properly dismissed
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under 12(b)(1) when
the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional
power to adjudicate it.”). Because the Defendants raise
only a facial challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, and
Mr. Sampedro has had a full and fair opportunity to respond
to that challenge, it is appropriate to convert the
Defendants' motion, to the extent it challenges subject
matter jurisdiction, to a motion under Rule 12(b)(1).
survive a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 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) (quoting 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“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.” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557). Legal conclusions and “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, ” are not entitled to a
presumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Nevertheless, when reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court
must accept well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw
“all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's
favor.” Interworks Sys. Inc. v. Merch. Fin.
Corp., 604 F.3d 692, 699 (2d Cir. 2010).
appropriate analysis for a facial challenge to subject matter
jurisdiction, like the one raised by the Defendants, is
similar to that required under Rule 12(b)(6). “When the
Rule 12(b)(1) motion is facial, i.e., based solely
on the allegations of the complaint or the complaint and
exhibits attached to it . . ., the plaintiff has no
evidentiary burden.” Carter v. HealthPort Techs.,
LLC, 822 F.3d 47, 56 (2d Cir. 2016). The task of the
district court is to determine whether, after accepting as
true all material factual allegations of the complaint and
drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff,
the alleged facts affirmatively and plausibly suggest that
the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at
56-57. “A plaintiff asserting subject matter
jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of
the evidence that it exists.” Makarova, 201
F.3d at 113.
I-§ 1983 Claim Under the Fourth Amendment
Court first considers whether Mr. Sampedro has a viable claim
for unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Trooper
Kores raises two defenses to this claim. Trooper Kores first
argues that Mr. Sampedro cannot, as a matter of law,
establish a violation of the Fourth Amendment because there
was probable cause to arrest Mr. Sampedro for multiple
traffic violations, including driving without a license.
Trooper Kores alternatively argues that Mr. Sampedro cannot
establish that he violated a clearly established right and,
therefore, he is entitled to qualified immunity in any event.
well established that the existence of probable cause is a
complete defense to a claim of unlawful seizure under §
1983. Weyant v. Okst, 101 F.3d 845, 852 (2d Cir.
1996); see Virginia v. Moore, 553 U.S. 164, 177
(2008) (“we have equated a lawful arrest with an arrest
based on probable cause”); Jaegly v. Couch,
439 F.3d 149, 151 (2d Cir. 2006) (“[A] § 1983
claim for false arrest derives from [the] Fourth Amendment