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Date: 05-22-2023

Case Style:

A.L. v. Leon Martin and State of New Mexico

Case Number: 1:23-CV-127

Judge: William P. Johnson

Court: United States District Court for the District of New Mexico (Bernaliloo County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Michael Dickman

Description: Albuquerque, New Mexico personal injury lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued defendants on a New Mexico Tort Claims Act theory.

This case arises out of the alleged rape, assault, battery, false imprisonment, and false arrest of A.L. by Defendant Leon Martin. Doc. 1, Ex. 2 (“Complaint”). Defendant Martin was employed by the Isleta Pueblo Police and was a licensed peace officer commissioned by the State of New Mexico. Id. ¶ 2. “On the evening of November 21, 2021, Defendant Martin was on-duty and in full police uniform when he heard A.L's name come across the police radio in connection with a potential DUI investigation.” Id. ¶ 11. Defendant Martin had previously met A.L. during an on-duty call and had previously made various allegedly inappropriate and disturbing attempts to contact A.L., including “friending” and messaging her on Facebook and calling A.L.'s mother to ask personal questions about A.L. and her private relationships. Id. ¶¶ 8, 9, 10. On the evening of November 21, Defendant Martin was not assigned to nor called to assist in the investigation of A.L. Id. ¶ 12. Yet he drove to the scene because A.L. was the subject of the investigation. Id. Upon arrival, Defendant Martin told the responding officer that the officer could leave and that Defendant would take over the investigation. Id. ¶ 13. Once the officer left, Defendant Martin arrested A.L. on suspicion of aggravated driving while under the influence in violation of NMSA 1987, § 66-9-102(D) and other state traffic laws. Id. ¶ 14. Defendant first took A.L. to a hospital to have her wrist examined, then he drove A.L. to a remote area near the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center and repeatedly raped her. Id. ¶¶ 15, 16, 19. After the assault and after keeping A.L. in custody for hours after her initial arrest, Defendant Martin drove her to the Valencia County Detention Center to book her for driving under the influence. Id. ¶¶ 21, 24. On the way to the Detention Center, Defendant Martin repeatedly told A.L. not to tell anyone about
the assault and promised that he would ask the judge to “take it easy on her” if she remained silent. Id. ¶ 22. After she was released from the Detention Center, A.L. reported the incident to the local authorities, and Defendant Martin was arrested and charged with several state crimes. Id. ¶¶ 27, 28. Later, the State of New Mexico revoked Defendant Martin's law enforcement license due to the alleged assault. Id. ¶ 30. Defendant Martin has remained incarcerated in the Bernalillo County Detention Center since his arrest in December 2021. Id. ¶ 29.

Plaintiff brings claims against Defendant Martin and the State of New Mexico under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act (“NMTCA”) in Counts III and IV. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss challenges only Plaintiff's claims against the State. In Count III, Plaintiff brings a claim against the State for negligently failing to properly train, supervise, hire, and retain Defendant Martin as a commissioned police officer. Id. ¶¶ 45, 46, 47. In Count IV, Plaintiff claims the State can be held vicariously liable under respondeat superior for Defendant Martin's intentional torts of false arrest, false imprisonment, rape, assault, and battery. Id. ¶¶ 49-53.

Outcome: "Plaintiff's NMTCA claims in Counts III and IV against the State are plausible and fall within NMTCA's waiver of sovereign immunity. The Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 12).

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