from the United States District Court for the District of
Kansas (D.C. No. 6:14-CV-01307-JTM-KGG)
on the briefs: [*]
Mayfield, Tonya Mayfield, pro se.
Crouse, Foulston Siefkin, LLP., Overland Park, Kansas, for
Jim Bethards, Defendant-Appellant.
LUCERO, PORFILIO, and McHUGH, Circuit Judges.
McHUGH, Circuit Judge.
and Tonya Mayfield, proceeding pro se, brought this action
against Deputy Jim Bethards under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
claiming he violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights by killing their pet dog. Deputy Bethards raised a
qualified-immunity defense and moved to dismiss the Complaint
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The
district court denied his motion and Deputy Bethards appeals.
Mayfields claim Deputies Clark and Bethards violated their
Fourth Amendment rights by entering their property without a
warrant with the intention of killing their two dogs, firing
upon both dogs, and killing one of them. According to the
Complaint, the deputies saw the Mayfields' dogs Suka and
Majka lying in the front yard of the Mayfields' private
residence in Halstead, Kansas, on July 13, 2014. The deputies
exited their vehicle and entered the Mayfields' unfenced
front yard to approach the dogs. In the Complaint, the
Mayfields allege a witness observed that although neither dog
acted aggressively, both officers began firing on the dogs
once on the Mayfields' property. Deputy Clark fired on
Suka, the Mayfields' brown dog, but missed as she fled to
the back of the house. Deputy Bethards shot Majka, the
Mayfields' white Malamute Husky, three times, killing her
on the front porch.
deputies then unsuccessfully searched for Suka behind the
house, where she had disappeared into a wooded section of the
Mayfields' property. The Complaint further alleges that
upon returning to the front yard, the deputies first moved
Majka's body in an apparent attempt to obscure that she
had been shot on the Mayfields' property and then tried
to hide her body in a row of trees.
Clark and Bethards raised a qualified-immunity defense and
moved to dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6). The district court dismissed the Mayfields'
Fourth Amendment claim against Deputy Clark on qualified
immunity. But the district court denied qualified
immunity to Deputy Bethards, finding the Complaint set forth
a plausible claim that Deputy Bethards violated the
Mayfields' clearly established Fourth Amendment rights by
unlawfully seizing Majka when he shot and killed her.
Bethards filed a timely appeal. We affirm the district
denial of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss on
qualified-immunity grounds is an appealable final order if it
turns on an issue of law. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 672 (2009) ("[T]his Court has been careful to
say that a district court's order rejecting qualified
immunity at the motion-to-dismiss stage of a proceeding is a
'final decision' within the meaning of [28 U.S.C.]
§ 1291."); Keith v. Koerner, 707 F.3d
1185, 1187 (10th Cir. 2013). The district court found the
Mayfields had sufficiently alleged a violation of their
clearly established rights. Whether a plaintiff has
sufficiently "alleged a violation of his clearly
established constitutional rights to overcome [the
defendant's] defense of qualified immunity is an issue of
law reviewable on interlocutory appeal." Brown v.
Montoya, 662 F.3d 1152, 1162 (10th Cir. 2011).
Accordingly, we exercise jurisdiction pursuant to § 1291
to review the district court's order denying Deputy
Bethards's qualified immunity defense. See Mitchell
v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526-27, 530 (1985);
Keith, 707 F.3d at 1187.
Standard of ...