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Rustin I. Smith v. Blake Davidson

March 22, 2012

RUSTIN I. SMITH,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
BLAKE DAVIDSON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT LOUIS M. KEALOHA's MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S VERIFIED COMPLAINT

Before the Court is Defendant Louis M. Kealoha's ("Kealoha") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Verified Complaint, filed December 8, 2011. Plaintiff Rustin I. Smith ("Plaintiff") filed his memorandum in opposition on February 23, 2012, and Kealoha filed his reply on February 20, 2012. On March 15, 2010, Defendant State of Hawaii ("the State") filed a Statement of No Position with respect to the Motion. This matter came on for hearing on March 19, 2012. Appearing on behalf of Kealoha was Curtis Sherwood, Esq., appearing on behalf of the State was Richard Stacey, Esq., and appearing on behalf of Plaintiff were Ronald Kim, Esq., and Eric Seitz, Esq. After careful consideration of the Motion, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the arguments of counsel, Kealoha's Motion is HEREBY GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his Verified Complaint For Damages, Declaratory and Injunctive Relief ("Complaint") on August 17, 2011 against Defendants Blake Davidson ("Davidson"), William Lu ("Lu"), the City and County of Honolulu ("the City"), the State, and Kealoha (collectively "Defendants"), alleging violations of his federal rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various state-law claims.*fn1

Plaintiff is the President of Hard Knocks, Inc. ("Hard Knocks"), which owns and operates two stores on Oahu. [Complaint at ¶¶ 4, 11.] He alleges that, on April 12, 2011, the District Court of the First Circuit, Honolulu Division, filed an Anticipatory Search Warrant based on an affidavit made by Lu, which authorized law enforcement officials to search Plaintiff's residence for bath salts containing methylenedioxypyrovalerone ("MDPV").*fn2 That same day, approximately fifty law enforcement officers searched Plaintiff's residence and arrested him, seizing cash and a vehicle from the residence. Plaintiff was questioned by Honolulu Police Department ("HPD") detectives, and detained overnight without formal charges or the opportunity to appear in court or post bail. [Id. at ¶¶ 18-24.]

On April 13, 2011, the District Court of the First Circuit, Honolulu Division, filed a Search Warrant based on an affidavit made by Davidson, which authorized law enforcement officiants to search Hard Knocks' stores for bath salts containing MDPV and related paraphernalia and documentation. During the raids conducted pursuant to the Search Warrant, HPD arrested two Hard Knocks employees and seized cash from the stores. [Id. at ¶¶ 26-28.]

Plaintiff alleges that HPD continued to hold him overnight on April 13, 2011 without formal charges or the opportunity to appear in court or post bail. On April 14, 2011, HPD read Plaintiff his rights, and released him later that afternoon. Plaintiff has not been charged with any offense. [Id. at ¶¶ 29-31.]

Plaintiff alleges the following causes of action: (1) a

42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim based on unreasonable searches and seizures, cruel and unusual punishment, and the denial of due process; (2) denial of due process based on the vagueness of Haw. Rev. Stat. § 712-1242; (3) a challenge to Haw. Rev. Stat. § 329-11(e) based on the Hawaii Administrative Procedures Act; (4) "Alternative to Count I - Negligent Training/Supervision," a negligent training, supervision, and/or discipline claim against Kealoha and the City; (5) a negligence claim against Kealoha and the City; (6) a negligent infliction of emotional distress ("NIED") claim against Kealoha and the City; (7) an intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") claim against Kealoha and the City; (8) a conversion claim against Kealoha; and (9) a false imprisonment claim against Kealoha. Kealoha, the Chief of HPD, is sued in his official and individual capacities. [Id. at ¶ 7.]

I. Motion

Kealoha moves to dismiss the Complaint against him because (1) Plaintiff's claims against him in his official capacity are redundant; and (2) various causes of action fail to state a claim under the pleading standards established in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). [Mem. in Supp. of Motion at 2.]

A. Official Capacity Claims

Kealoha argues that the claims made against him in his official capacity are duplicative of the claims against the City. That is, a suit against a governmental officer in his official capacity is the same as a suit against the entity of which the officer is an agent; here, HPD and the City. [Id. at 13-14.]

B. Failure to State a Claim

Kealoha also argues that the majority of the claims against him do not involve matters that he personally participated in, and that the allegations are conclusory and fail to state a claim. Of the nine causes of action, all but the second and third name Kealoha. [Id. at 2.]

1. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim

Kealoha argues that Plaintiff's first cause of action is insufficient because it fails to allege any personal participation by Kealoha. He notes that there are no factual allegations that he directed the search and seizure of Plaintiff and his property, violated the knock and announce rule, prolonged Plaintiff's detention, or otherwise participated in the conduct giving rise to the alleged violations. To the extent Plaintiff alleges a purported policy and/or practice, Kealoha argues that the allegations are vague and conclusory. [Id. at 4-5.]

Kealoha also asserts that Plaintiff relies on inapplicable constitutional violations to support his § 1983 claim. To the extent Plaintiff alleges deprivations of state law rights, Kealoha notes that those claims are not actionable under § 1983. [Id.]

2. Placing MDPV on Schedule 1

Plaintiff's second cause of action takes issue with the placement of MDPV onto Schedule 1 and the law enabling the Department of Public Safety to do so. Kealoha argues that Plaintiff's second cause of action does not purport to state a claim against him, despite Plaintiff's use of the plural term "Defendants." Kealoha maintains that this claim was not meant to apply to him. [Id. at 7.]

3. Negligent Supervision and Training

Kealoha next argues that Plaintiff's fourth cause of action is entirely conclusory and that he cannot be liable as an individual supervisor under a respondeat superior theory of liability. He argues that, in order to maintain a state law claim for negligent supervision and training, Plaintiff must establish that the employer knew or should have known of the necessity and opportunity for exercising a greater degree of control or supervision over a particular employee. Nor does Plaintiff allege any factual details regarding how the HPD officers' behavior was related to Kealoha's failure to train in the instant matter. Specifically, he argues that Plaintiff fails to identify how Kealoha failed to train the officers involved, how he was negligent in supervising in the officers involved, or describe how he failed to discipline them with regard to the incident at issue. Last, Kealoha argues that Plaintiff fails to plead nonconclusory facts to "plausibly" support the theory that the subordinate officers were acting outside the scope of their employment. [Id. at 8-9.]

4. Negligence-Based Claims

Kealoha argues that Plaintiff's fourth, fifth, and sixth causes of action fail to allege malice, which is required to maintain negligence claims against government officials. [Id. at 11-12 (citing Faaita v. Liang, 2009 WL 3124763, at *18 (D. Hawai'i 2009) ("[I]n order for an action to lie against an official acting under a claim of privilege, it is essential that the injured party allege and prove, to the ...


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