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Niederstadt v. Town of Carrizozo

182 P.3d 769 (2008)

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Niederstadt v. Town of Carrizozo

New Mexico Court of Appeals

182 P.3d 769 (2008)

Facts

Charles Niederstadt (plaintiff) alleged that as he sat on his mother’s porch, Officer Rivera arrested Niederstadt by grabbing his hair, slamming him into the ground, and twisting his arm behind his back. Niederstadt sued for civil-rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and for assault, battery, false arrest, and false imprisonment under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act (the tort act). In the federal lawsuit, Rivera was the only named defendant; the Town of Carrizozo (the town) (defendant) was not a federal defendant. Rivera brought the federal complaint to his superior officer, and town leadership decided not to defend Rivera in the federal lawsuit. Niederstadt and Rivera settled the federal suit; Niederstadt was awarded a judgment of $60,000, and Rivera assigned his potential claims against the town to Niederstadt. Niederstadt, acting as Rivera’s assignee, sued the town in state court, seeking a declaratory judgment that the town was bound to defend and indemnify Rivera and seeking damages for the town’s alleged bad-faith failure to defend Rivera. The state district court dismissed Niederstadt’s state lawsuit because the town was not appropriately notified of the federal suit under the tort act. Niederstadt appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fry, J.)

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