The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico recently handed down an opinion dismissing claims by a New Mexico State Police trooper for failure to keep premises safe. The Court interpreted New Mexico’s “firefighter’s rule” as also applying to claims brought by law enforcement officers.
The plaintiff had alleged as part of a complaint filed in state court that, during the course of executing a warrant, he was shot and critically wounded due to the failure of a property management company to keep its premises safe. The plaintiff sought to hold the defendant liable for damages sustained after he was shot on the basis that the defendant was aware that the shooter was not an authorized resident, of his frequency on the premises, of his residency, and of his violent nature and criminal record. According to the complaint, the defendant had previously removed the man from its property.
The defendant responded to the complaint by removing it to federal court and filing a motion to dismiss based on the “firefighter’s rule.” The plaintiff opposed dismissal. Pursuant to the standard for considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court was to accept the allegations in the complaint as true, view the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor. The Court was to then consider whether the plaintiff’s claims were facially plausible, meaning whether the facts pleaded in the complaint could allow the court to draw reasonable inferences that the defendant could be held liable for the misconduct alleged. After reciting the standard for assessing motions to dismiss, the Court concluded that the complaint failed to allege facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.