United States District Court, D. Idaho
ADELA AYALA, individually, and as Next Friend of L.O.A., a minor child, Plaintiff,
RICHARD M. ARMSTRONG, in his official capacity as Director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and ELKE SHAWTULLOCH, in her official capacity as Administrator of the Division of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics and Health Statistics, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Court Judge
Court has before it Defendants' Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings (Dkt. 37) and Plaintiffs' Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. 38). The Court heard oral argument on
the motions on April 5, 2018, and now issues this Memorandum
Decision and Order.
2012, Plaintiff Adela Ayala was in a same-sex relationship
with Janina Oquendo. Ayala and Oquendo wanted to get married,
but the State of Idaho prevented them from doing so because
it precluded same-sex marriage. See Ayala Decl. 2,
¶¶ 7 & 35, Dkt. 38-3; Oquendo Decl. at
¶ 3, Dkt. 26-3. Through artificial insemination, Oquendo
conceived and gave birth to L.O.A. on August 25, 2012.
Ayala Decl., ¶¶ 4-23, Dkt. 38-3. Ayala and
L.O.A. have no biological relationship, and Oquendo is listed
as the birth mother on L.O.A.'s birth certificate; no
birth father is listed. Id. ¶ 25. Ayala is not
listed on the birth certificate, but L.O.A retains
Ayala's surname. Id. ¶ 28.
February 2015, Ayala and Oquendo broke up. Id.
¶ 41. LO.A. was primarily in Ayala's care after the
break up. Id. ¶ 42. In the Spring of 2016,
Oquendo agreed to give Ayala custody of L.O.A. for three
years. Id. ¶ 45. On May 13, 2016, Oquendo
executed a power of attorney giving Ayala full parental
authority over the care of L.O.A. and Oquendo's son from
a prior relationship. Id. ¶ 46. On June 9,
2016, Oquendo revoked the power of attorney and took physical
custody of both children. Id. ¶ 47. Oquendo
then took L.O.A. to California to stay with her godmother for
two months and grandmother for three and one-half weeks.
Id. ¶ 48. In July 2016, Oquendo brought L.O.A.
back to Idaho, and L.O.A. stayed with Ayala part-time.
Id. ¶¶ 50-51. After L.O.A. reported abuse
by her brother to Ayala, the Idaho Department of Health and
Welfare (“IDHW”) filed a petition to obtain legal
custody of L.O.A. Id. ¶ 54. Although IDHW did
not recognize Ayala as L.O.A.'s parent, it placed L.O.A.
with Ayala as a foster parent. Id. ¶ 55. Ayala
filed her Complaint in this case on November 17, 2016. On
November 28, 2017 Oquendo voluntarily agreed to terminate her
parental rights of L.O.A. Id. ¶ 65. On January
30, 2018 the State Court entered an order terminating
Oquendo's parental rights, and L.O.A. remains in foster
care with Ayala.
Court issued its decision on the preliminary injunction and
motion to dismiss on August 24, 2017, allowing Plaintiffs to
proceed on the claims related to I.C. §§ 39-255 and
39-5405. On January 30, 2018, Defendants filed their pending
motion for judgment on the pleadings, and Plaintiffs filed
their motion for summary judgment two days later.
Judgment on the Pleadings Legal Standard
seek dismissal for failure to state a claim on which relief
can be granted. When a defendant brings such motion after
answering the complaint, the motion is treated as one for
judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure Rule 12(c), rather than Rule 12(b)(6). Hoeft v.
Tucson Unified School Dist., 967 F.2d 1298, 1301 n. 2
(9th Cir.1992). Motions to dismiss under Rules 12(c) and
12(b)(6) differ only in the time of filing; because they are
functionally identical, the same standard applies to motions
brought under either rule. Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4
Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 n.4 (9th Cir.
2011)(citing Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867
F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir.1989)). “A judgment on the
pleadings is properly granted when, ‘taking all the
allegations in the pleadings as true, the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'”
Gregg v. Hawaii, Dep't of Pub. Safety, 870 F.3d
883, 887 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Nelson v. City of
Irvine, 143 F.3d 1196, 1200 (9th Cir. 1998).
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, n.1 (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).
Summary Judgment Legal Standard
judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to
any claim or defense, “there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Such a motion
is particularly appropriate in a case like this, where there
is no real dispute about the facts of the case. To the extent
there is a factual dispute, the evidence, and all reasonable
inferences from the evidence, must be viewed in the light