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Raymond v. Sloan

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 25, 2014

JACKIE RAYMOND, individually as an heir, and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Barry Johnson, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SLOAN; PAYETTE COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Idaho; CHARLES HUFF, Sheriff; and JOHN DOES Defendants, and THE IDAHO STATE POLICE, Intervenor.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS; MOTION TO AMEND; MOTION TO INTERVENE; MOTION TO STAY

WILLIAM B. SHUBB, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jackie Raymond brought this action against defendants Scott Sloan, Sheriff Charles Huff, and Payette County arising out of the death of her father in an automobile collision with Sloan. Defendants now move to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and to stay discovery pending the determination of their motion; plaintiff moves to amend her complaint; and the Idaho State Police ("ISP") moves to intervene pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b).

I. Factual & Procedural History

On October 18, 2011, Barry Johnson attempted to make a left turn from Highway 30 into the driveway of his residence near New Plymouth, Idaho. (Compl. ¶ 12 (Docket No. 1).) As he did so, Sloan, a deputy sheriff of Payette County, allegedly passed him in the left-hand lane at a speed of 115 miles per hour. (Id. ¶ 13.) Their cars collided. (Id. ¶ 16.) Johnson was ejected from the driver's seat of his vehicle and died as a result of his injuries. (Id.)

Plaintiff is Johnson's daughter and heir. (Id. ¶ 4.) She asserts two basic theories of relief. First, she brings a state-law claim for negligence against Sloan and Payette County, which she alleges is both vicariously liable for Sloan's conduct and independently liable for its failure to train, supervise, and control its employees. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 15, 17-19.) Second, she alleges that defendants conspired with officers of the ISP to cover up Sloan's misconduct and asserts that this conspiracy denied her of her constitutional right of access to the courts in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.)

Defendants now move to dismiss plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, (Docket No. 27), and to stay discovery pending resolution of the motion to dismiss, (Docket No. 28); plaintiff seeks leave to amend her Complaint, (Docket No. 31); and ISP moves to intervene in the action for the purpose of opposing plaintiff's motion to file an amended Complaint, (Docket No. 41).

II. Motion to Dismiss

On a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes , 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer , 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto , 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff needs to plead "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This "plausibility standard, " however, "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, " and where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556-57).

A. 42 U.S.C. § 1985

Subsection 1985(3) prohibits two or more persons from conspiring to deprive any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws. "To bring a cause of action successfully under § 1985(3), a plaintiff must demonstrate a deprivation of a right motivated by some racial, or otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirators' action.'" RK Ventures, Inc. v. City of Seattle , 307 F.3d 1045, 1056 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Sever v. Alaska Pulp Corp. , 978 F.2d 1529, 1536 (9th Cir. 1992)); accord Griffin v. Breckenridge , 403 U.S. 88, 102 (1971). This requires "either that the courts have designated the class in question a suspect or quasi-suspect classification requiring more exacting scrutiny or that Congress has indicated through legislation that the class required special protection." Schultz v. Sundberg , 759 F.2d 714, 718 (9th Cir. 1985) (citing DeSantis v. P. Tel. & Tel. Co. , 608 F.2d 327, 333 (9th Cir. 1979)).

Here, plaintiff alleges only that defendants deprived her of her right of access to the courts in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (See Compl. ¶¶ 20-21.) She has not alleged that she is a member of any protected class, let alone that defendants' conduct was motivated by a membership in such a class. See RK Ventures , 307 F.3d at 1056. Accordingly, the court must grant defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's § 1985 claim.

B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

In relevant part, § 1983 provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State..., subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured ...

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