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Autumn Marie Pauls v. Rich Green

November 14, 2011

AUTUMN MARIE PAULS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICH GREEN, SHERIFF OF ADAMS COUNTY, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND BUTCH GIBSON, JAILER, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-5, IN THEIR OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it defendant Adams County's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 73). The Court finds that the decisional process would not be aided by oral argument, and will resolve this motion after consideration of the parties' written submissions. D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d).

BACKGROUND

This Court previously granted in part and denied in part Adams County's motion for summary judgment. See Sept. 7, 2011 Order (Dkt. 70). The denial related to plaintiff Autumn Pauls' state-law claims. In this motion, Adams County argues that Pauls has failed to sufficiently allege the two state-law tort claims at issue -- intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

THE LEGAL STANDARD*fn1

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,'" in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, . . ." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss "does not need detailed factual allegations," it must set forth "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Id. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'" Id. at 557.

In a more recent case, the Supreme Court identified two "working principles" that underlie Twombly. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Id. "Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 1950. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

Providing too much in the complaint may also be fatal to a plaintiff. Dismissal may be appropriate when the plaintiff has included sufficient allegations disclosing some absolute defense or bar to recovery. See Weisbuch v. County of L.A., 119 F.3d 778, 783, n. 1 (9th Cir. 1997) (stating that "[i]f the pleadings establish facts compelling a decision one way, that is as good as if depositions and other . . . evidence on summary judgment establishes the identical facts").

A dismissal without leave to amend is improper unless it is beyond doubt that the complaint "could not be saved by any amendment." Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 573 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2009) (issued two months after Iqbal).*fn2 The Ninth Circuit has held that "in dismissals for failure to state a claim, a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Cook, Perkiss & Liehe, Inc. v. N. Cal. Collection Serv., Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990). The issue is not whether plaintiff will prevail but whether he "is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." See Hydrick v. Hunter, 466 F.3d 676, 685 (9th Cir. 2006).

Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court may consider matters that are subject to judicial notice. Mullis v. United States Bank, 828 F.2d 1385, 1388 (9th Cir. 1987). The Court may take judicial notice "of the records of state agencies and other undisputed matters of public record" without transforming the motions to dismiss into motions for summary judgment. Disabled Rights Action Comm. v. Las Vegas Events, Inc., 375 F.3d 861, 866 (9th Cir. 2004). The Court may also examine documents referred to in the complaint, although not attached thereto, without transforming the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. See Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005)

ANALYSIS

Adams County urges the Court to dismiss Pauls' tort claims on the basis that they are barred by the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA). See Idaho Code § 6-904(3).

"The purpose of the ITCA is to provide 'much needed relief to those suffering injury from the negligence of government employees.'" Rees v. Idaho, 137 P.3d 397, 406 (Idaho 2006) (citation omitted). The key statute therefore provides that "every governmental entity is subject to liability for money damages arising out of its negligent or otherwise wrongful acts or omissions . . . where the governmental entity if a private person or ...


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