United States District Court, D. Minnesota
T. Johnson and David Reed Lundgren, LUNDGREN & JOHNSON,
PSC; Andrew M. Irlbeck, for plaintiff.
Kimberly R. Parker and Robert B. Roche, RAMSEY COUNTY
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, for defendants.
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
Emma Shields-Nordness was arrested by St. Paul police
officers and transported to the Ramsey County Adult Detention
Center (“ADC”) after eyewitnesses mistakenly
identified her as the driver of a car that had been involved
in a hit-and-run accident. Shortly after arresting
Shields-Nordness, the police received additional information
that caused them to doubt that she had anything to do with
the accident, and the police notified the ADC that
Shields-Nordness could be released. At the time that the
police contacted the ADC, Shields-Nordness was still sitting
in her street clothes in the facility's open-booking
area, waiting for her background check to be completed.
was not released. Instead, she was detained in the open-
booking area for two more hours, and then she was transferred
into the general population of the ADC. Like every detainee
transferred into the general population, Shields-Nordness was
strip searched. After sitting in a cell for another three
hours, Shields-Nordness was finally released.
filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
City of St. Paul, three of its police officers, the County of
Ramsey, and unnamed employees of the ADC (identified as
“John Does”). Shields-Nordness alleges that
defendants violated her rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments and committed the tort of false
imprisonment. Ramsey County and the ADC employees now move to
dismiss all claims against them. For the reasons that follow,
the Court grants their motion in part and denies it in part.
amended complaint alleges the following:
November 29, 2017, Shields-Nordness and her boyfriend (Braden
Shannon) attended a concert in downtown St. Paul. They left
the concert at about 11:30 pm and walked to a nearby
restaurant to get something to eat. Am. Compl. ¶¶
about midnight, St. Paul police responded to a report of a
hit-and-run accident near the concert venue. Id. at
¶¶ 15-16. The police obtained descriptions of the
car and the driver that had been involved in the collision.
Id. at ¶ 16. Officer Vosinick Kellum searched
the vicinity of the accident and found a vehicle that matched
the description of the car. Id. at ¶ 17. That
vehicle had sustained substantial front-end damage. The
driver of the vehicle appeared to have fled the scene.
blocks away, Shields-Nordness and Shannon, having finished
their meal, were walking to the parking ramp where they had
left Shannon's vehicle. Officer Kellum spotted the couple
and thought that Shields-Nordness seemed upset. Id.
at ¶ 18. As Shannon drove out of the garage, Officer
Kellum and Officer Oscar Galindo stopped his vehicle.
Id. at ¶ 19. Officer Galindo asked to see
Shields-Nordness's driver's license so that he could
determine whether she was the registered owner of the vehicle
that appeared to have been involved in the hit-and-run. After
running a computer check, Officer Galindo learned that the
car was not registered to Shields- Nordness. Id. at
Galindo nevertheless continued to question Shields-Nordness
about the hit-and-run accident and falsely told her that the
police had determined that her car had been involved in the
accident. See Id. at ¶¶ 21-27. The
officers then brought the victims of the accident to the
scene, made Shields-Nordness stand alone in the middle of the
street with squad lights shining at her, and asked the
victims if Shields-Nordness had driven the car that struck
their vehicle. The victims identified Shields-Nordness as the
driver. Id. at ¶ 27.
was arrested for driving while intoxicated and taken to the
police station. Id. at ¶¶ 29-31, 50. At
about 2:00 am, officers transported Shields- Nordness to the
Ramsey County ADC. See Id. at ¶¶ 54-55.
Intake and Booking at the Ramsey County ADC
arriving at the ADC, Shields-Nordness sat in the open-booking
area in her street clothes and waited for the staff to
complete a background check. See Id. at ¶¶
56, 69. In the meantime, St. Paul police continued to
investigate the accident. An officer was able to locate
Shields-Nordness's car, which was parked near
Shannon's home in Minneapolis, right where
Shields-Nordness told police she had left it. See
Id. at ¶¶ 25, 63. Also, Officer Galindo
interviewed the registered owner of the vehicle at her home.
Id. at ¶¶ 59, 63. The owner (who bore a
physical resemblance to Shields-Nordness) told Officer
Galindo that she had driven her car to downtown St. Paul that
evening, drunk alcohol to excess, and then taken a cab home.
She claimed not to know where her car was. Id. at
on this and other information, Commander Sean Johnson
determined that Shields-Nordness should be released.
Commander Johnson transmitted to the ADC a
release-pending-further-investigation (or “RPFI”)
form, notifying the ADC that it could release
Shields-Nordness. The ADC received the RPFI form no later
than 3:15 am. See Id. at ¶¶ 63-64, 70. A
few minutes later, Shannon contacted the ADC and asked when
Shields-Nordness would be released. In response, the ADC told
Shannon that Shields- Nordness could not be released until
her background check was completed. Id. at ¶
about 5:00 am-or almost two hours after Commander Johnson
authorized the release of Shields-Nordness-the ADC decided to
move Shields-Nordness to the general population of the
facility. Pursuant to ADC policies, a female guard took
Shields-Nordness to a private room and told her to remove all
of her clothes and place them in a crate. Id. at
¶¶ 75, 96. Shields-Nordness was then told to turn
her back to the guard, squat, and cough. After completing the
strip search, the guard told Shields- Nordness to put on a
jail uniform. Shields-Nordness was then taken to a cell in
the general population. Id. at ¶¶ 76-78.
After being denied the opportunity to make a phone call and
being told that she would be detained another 48 hours,
Shields- Nordness began hyperventilating and vomited in her
cell. Id. at ¶¶ 76-77.
about 8:00 am, Shields-Nordness was told that she was being
released. A male guard led her to a holding cell with a
one-way mirror, handed back her street clothes, and told her
to change. Shields-Nordness had to disrobe in front of other
female inmates in the holding cell. She did not know whether
any male guard was looking through the one-way mirror as she
changed. Shields-Nordness was finally released at 8:51 am,
more than five hours after Commander Johnson told the ADC
that it could release her. Id. at ¶ 78.
action, Shields-Nordness brings claims against the employees
of the ADC who failed to release her but instead strip
searched her and then incarcerated her with the general
population, contending that those employees violated her
rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Id. at ¶¶ 87-93. Shields-Nordness also
seeks to hold Ramsey County liable for the constitutional
violations because, she claims, Ramsey County maintains
facially unconstitutional policies that require every person
who is brought to the ADC to complete the full booking
process-including being subject to a background check,
fingerprinted, photographed, strip searched, and housed with
prisoners in the general population-even if that person is
ordered released in the course of the booking process.
Id. at ¶¶ 94-99.
Standard of Review
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the
factual allegations in the complaint need not be detailed,
they must be sufficient to “raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. In
assessing the sufficiency of the complaint, the Court may
disregard legal conclusions that are couched as factual
allegations. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678-79 (2009). The ...