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Maldonado v. Fontanes

Plaintiff's Attorney:   PEDRO R. VÁZQUEZ, ESQ., MARÍA S. KORTRIGHT SOLER, ESQ.

Defendant's Attorney:   LUIS F. COLON GONZALEZ, ESQ.

Topic: Pet seizure/civil rights violation/due process

Case File #:   CIV. NO. 07-1992 JAG; No. 08-2211

Jurisdiction:   United States

Year Case Filed:   2007


Printible Version



Full Caption of the Case:

MADELINE MALDONADO, ABRAHAM VALENCIA individually and on behalf of their minor children ALEX MALDONADO VALENCIA, EDGAR MALDONADO VALENCIA and CHRISTIAN MALDONADO VALENCIA; CARMEN VAZQUEZ Individually and on behalf of her minor children DEREK CRUZand ALEX JOEL VAZQUEZ; MARIA RIOS COLON Individually and on behalf of her minor children CARLOS DAVID COLON, LEONIEL MELENDEZ, and JESUS MELENDEZ; RUTH VIDOT Individually and on behalf of her children JAHAIRA SANTANA, LUISA MARIA SANTANA, MARIA LUISA SANTANA, GRACE SANTANA, VIRGEN RIVERA, and MARIA DAHLIA RIVERA; LUZ RODRIGUEZ Individually and on behalf of her minor children JUDY ANGELIE; MAYRA VALLE Individually and on behalf of her minor children THALIA PEREZ VALLE and ENID PEREZ; JENNIFER JIMENEZ Individually and on behalf of her minor children JANICE TORRES and JOEDNIEL TORRES; MARIYUNAIRA RIVERA Individually and on behalf of her minor child VICTOR MANUEL NEGRO; RAFET CANDELARIA; JOHANNA GONZALEZ; Individually and on behalf of her minor child JOSE E. DE JESUS, MARIA DE LOURDES DE JESUS and JOSE D. DE JESUS AND AGUEDA SERRANO ELVIA TIRADO; CARMEN VALLE; MARIBEL RIVERA VARELA Individually and on behalf of her minor child KEYSHA and NAYSHA RIVERA; ANTONIA MORALES; Individually and on behalf of her minor children KELVIN and RANDY MORALES; JUDITH VARELA Individually and on behalf of her minor child JOHAMED RIVERA, JULIAN LOPEZ RIVERA and ASHELY RIVERA; SONIA KORTRIGHT SANCHEZ; DAISY CABALLERO CRUZ Individually and on behalf of her minor children WILFREDO DE LEON CABALLERO, ADNERSY RODRIGUEZ CABALLERO, RAFAEL J. RODRIGUEZ CABALLERO and MELQUISEDEC MAISONET CABALLERO; JACQUELINE SANTIAGO Individually and on behalf of her minor child KIARA RODRIGUEZ SANTIAGO; ANGEL RAFAEL SIERRA, EVELYN VAZQUEZ Individually and on behalf of their minor children ANGELICA, KARINA, SORIMAR, CHRISTOPHER, NEYSHA, MIGUEL ANGEL; RAMONA OJEDA GONZALEZ; ANGELICA VALLE Individually and on behalf of her minor children ELBI MOLINA KELVIN MOLINA and IDALY MOLINA; OMAR RODRIGUEZ; ANDREA RODRIGUEZ OTERO and FELIX DE LEON and the marital estate between them; EVELYN SOLER DAVILA; VANESSA GUTIERREZ Individually and on behalf of her minor children STEPHANIE MOYA and KENNETH ESCOBAR; CARMEN LUZ AGOSTO ROMAN Individually and on behalf of her minor children PRISCILLA HOWARD, JOHN HOWARD, EDWIN HOWARD and JOSHUA LAMOUTTE; EVELYN TALAVERA Individually and on behalf of her minor children HECTOR LAUREANO and LUIS LAUREANO; ROSA RODRIGUEZ MARIN Individually and on behalf of her minor children BRYAN CORTES, VIRGINIA CORTES and ROSA CORTES; BLANCA MEDINA Individually and on behalf of her minor child CARLA MICHELLE COLON; ELBA IRIS GUZMAN REYES; LIZETTE AGOSTO Individually and on behalf of her minor child BYRON CANCEL; JOSE RODRIGUEZ MARIN JESSICA FUENTES individually and on behalf of their minor children DAVID FUENTES and JOSE E. RODRIGUEZ FUENTES Plaintiffs. Vs. MUNICIPALITY OF BARCELONETA; SOL LUIS FONTANES, Mayor of Barceloneta in his personal and official capacities and ELSA PEREZ the spouse of Sol Luis Fontanes and the conjugal partnership between them; CARLOS LABOY, Chief of the Public Housing Administration of Department of Housing of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is sued in his official capacity only; SYLVIA RIQUELME, Administrator of a public housing community in the Municipality of Barceloneta in her personal and official capacities and “JOE PUBLIC” the spouse of Sylvia Riquelme and the conjugal partnership between them; LEONIDES GONZALEZ, Administrator of a public housing community in the Municipality of Barceloneta in her personal and official capacities and “JOE PUBLIC” the spouse of Leonides Gonzalez and the conjugal partnership between them; ESTHER RUIZ Chief of the Housing Project Division of the Municipality of Barceloneta in her personal and official capacities “JOHN PUBLIC” the spouse of Esther Ruiz and the conjugal partnership between; AMID MOLINA MORALES, Chief of the Civil Defense Division of the Municipality of Barceloneta in her personal and official capacities and “JOE PUBLIC” the spouse of AMID MOLINA MORALES and the conjugal partnership between tem; EDGARDO SANTIAGO, employee of the Municipality of Barceloneta in his personal and official capacities and “JANE PUBLIC” the spouse of EDGARDO SANTIAGO and the conjugal partnership between them; JULIO DIAZ; President of Animal Control Solutions, Inc., and Contractor of the Municipality of Barceloneta sued in his personal and official capacities and “JANE PUBLIC” the spouse of JULIO DIAZ and the conjugal partnership between them; ANIMAL CONTROL SOLUTIONS, INC JOHN DOE II AND JANE DOE, ET. AL; fictitious names of other persons who directly participated in the planning or execution of the relevant facts of violation of rights of Plaintiffs. INSURANCE CO., ABC, ET. AL. Defendants.

 

Documents Available in Chronological Order:

SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT (12/19/2007) (.pdf file - 187.43 KB)

OPINION FROM THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT --- F.3d ----, 2009 WL 1547737 (C.A.1 (Puerto Rico)) (also in .pdf version - 88.15 KB)

Summary of Case:

At issue in this particular opinion is the interlocutory appeal of the Mayor of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico based on the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss on the basis of qualified immunity. This case was initially brought after two successive raids on public housing complexes, within ten days of the Municipality of Barceloneta assuming control of the public housing complexes from the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration on October 1, 2007. Prior to the raid, the residents, mostly Spanish-speakers, were given notice of the new "no pet policy," which were written in English. During the raids, plaintiffs' pets were seized and then killed by either being slammed against the side of a van or thrown off a 50-foot bridge. This First Circuit affirmed the denial of the Mayor's motion for qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claims. However, it reversed the denial of qualified immunity to the Mayor as to the plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claims and ordered those claims dismissed. With regard to the substantive due process claims, the court rejected the Mayor's contention that he is entitled to immunity because the substantive due process “shock the conscience” caselaw does not apply in situations of deprivation of property (to wit, pets), but only to deprivations of the life and/or liberty of a person. The court stated: "We see no reason to read the word “property” out of the Amendment; we would be reluctant to conclude that deprivations of property cannot ever be so shocking in their effect on the person as to lead to a Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process violation." However, the court determined that it did not need to decide that issue because the alleged liability of the Mayor for substantive due process violations did not involve a policy of the Municipality for which the Mayor was responsible, nor involved his personal conduct. The pet policy did not authorize the killing of the pets nor even specified how they were to be removed. The court also found that the Mayor was only present on one raid and did not personally engage in "conscience-shocking conduct" during the raids. The court also found insufficient evidence to support a case for supervisory liability.

PLAINTIFF/APPELLEES’ BRIEF (12/26/2008) (.pdf file - 253.09 KB)

 

 

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