United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. McCONNELL, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Third-Party Defendants ("Defendants") move to dismiss
the Amended Third-Party Complaint brought against them by
former Rhode Island State Trooper James Donnelly-Tajdor. ECF
No. 88. The Court sets forth below its reasons for GRANTING
the Motion to Dismiss.
Donnelly-Taylor arrested Lionel Monsanto after a traffic stop
and brought him to the State Police cell block. According to
Trooper Donnelly-Taylor, Mr. Monsanto was "belligerent and
verbally abusive throughout the traffic stop and while he was
being transported to the barracks for booking." ECF No.
86 at ¶ 81. Mr. Monsanto's "behavior continued
throughout the booking process." Id., at ¶ 82.
"After booking, Trooper Donnelly-Taylor escorted [Mr.]
Monsanto to a cell" during which Mr. Monsanto
"repeatedly pulled his arm and body away from the
trooper and repeatedly stated that he would not go into a
cell willingly." Id. at ¶ 83-84. Mr.
Monsanto "exhibited multiple behaviors over a prolonged
period of time that escalated the level of threat he posed to
the trooper and others." Id. at ¶ 87.
"Upon passing through the cell door, Monsanto . . .
slammed his elbow into the trooper's upper-arm, just
below the shoulder, in an apparent attempt to strike the
trooper's face with his elbow." Id. at
¶ 88. The trooper then "subdue[d Mr.] Monsanto, who
was not handcuffed or otherwise restrained in any way, [to]
prevent any further threat of harm." Id. at
¶ 90. Trooper Donnelly-Taylor then close-fist punched
Mr. Monsanto six times. All the relevant conduct was caught
Donnelly-Taylor filed charges against Mr. Monsanto including
for assault. Id., at ¶ 92. A month later, the Rhode
Island Attorney General's office dismissed the charges
against Mr. Monsanto. Id. at ¶ 96.
grand jury indicted Trooper Donnelly-Taylor for assaulting
Mr. Monsanto. Trooper Donnelly-Taylor pleaded nolo contendere
to the assault, admitting to the indictment's underlying
facts and the use of excessive force. ECF No. 88-2 at 2-3.
The judge "place[d] the case on file . . . [and ordered
the Trooper to perform] 25 hours of community service."
Id. at 6.
Monsanto filed this suit against the State and Trooper
Donnelly Taylor for violating his federal civil rights by
using excessive force and for state law claims. Rhode Island
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin refused to defend or
indemnify Trooper Donnelly-Taylor individually for this
incident, relying on Rhode Island Gen. Laws § 9-31-9,
which states that "[t]he attorney general may refuse to
defend an action referred to in § 9-31-8 if he or she
determines that: (1) The act or omission was not within the
scope of employment; (2) The act or the failure to act was
because of actual fraud, willful misconduct, or actual
malice. . . ."
Rhode Island Troopers' Association filed a grievance and
for arbitration, alleging that Attorney General Kilmartin
violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement
("CBA") with the Troopers' Association by not
supplying Trooper Donnelly-Taylor with a defense and
indemnity. Attorney General Kilmartin, in response to the
grievance and arbitration request, filed a declaratory and
injunctive relief complaint in the Rhode Island Superior
Court seeking a determination that his decision to deny
Trooper Donnelly-Taylor a defense and indemnification was
proper and not an arbitrable matter. The Rhode Island
Superior Court granted Attorney General Kilmartin's
relief, and the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed.
Monsanto sued the State, the State Treasurer (in his official
capacity only), Trooper Donnelly-Taylor (individually and
officially), Trooper Gregory Palmer (individually and
officially), and Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell
(individually and officially). ECF No. 26. Trooper
Donnelly-Taylor answered the complaint and filed a
Third-Party Complaint and cross-claims against his
co-Defendants and adding claims against Governor Gina M.
Raimondo (officially) and Attorney General Kilmartin
(individually and officially). ECF No. 86.
Monsanto dismissed his claims with prejudice against all the
Defendants. ECF No. 81. The Defendants have now moved to
dismiss Trooper Donnelly-Taylor's claims against them.
ECF No. 88.
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Trooper
Donnelly Taylor must present facts that make his claim
plausible on its face. See Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). To determine
plausibility, the court must first review the complaint and
separate conclusory legal allegations from allegations of
fact. See Rodriguez-Reyes v. Molina-Rodriguez, 711
F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir. 2013). Next, the court must consider
whether the remaining factual allegations give rise to a
plausible claim of relief. See id.
state a plausible claim, a complaint need not detail factual
allegations, but must recite facts enough at least to
"raise a right to relief above the speculative
level...." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A pleading that
offers "labels and conclusions" or "a
formulative recitation of the elements of a caxise of
action" will not suffice. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders "naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual
enhancement." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
557); see also Soto-Torres v. Fraticelli, 654 F, 2d
153, 159 (1st Cir. 2011) (holding that combined allegations,
taken as true, "must state a plausible, not a merely
conceivable, case for relief.").
Defendants move to dismiss the Third-Party Complaint under
collateral estoppel, claiming that five of the eight counts
were resolved by the Rhode Island Supreme Court's opinion
in R.I. Troopers' Association. They also move for
dismissal based on absolute and qualified immunity; that
defamation is not properly pleaded; and that ...