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Paddock v. Ballou

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 1, 2018

SHALYNN F. PADDOCK, M.B. and A.P., Plaintiffs,
ANDREW BALLOU; BRIANA DIXON; COUNTY OF CANYON, a public entity; IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE CPA; RAYCHELLE MINDEN, in her individual capacity; MIRANDA SQUIBB, in her individual capacity; JASMINE OLMEDO, in her individual capacity; ARACELI LUNA, in her individual capacity; CALDWELL POLICE DEPARTMENT; OFFICER T. EDWARDS, in his individual capacity; OFFICER DEFUR, in his individual capacity KIDS SERVICES, INC. of Caldwell, Canyon County, Idaho; and JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-50, Defendants.


          David C. Nye, U.S. District Court Judge


         On June 19, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”), recommending that: (1) Defendant KIDS Services Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 10) be granted; (2) Defendant Andrew Ballou's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 40) be granted; (3) Defendant Briana Dixon's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 41) be granted; and (4) Plaintiff Shalynn Paddock be given 30 days to file an Amended Complaint.

         Any party may challenge a magistrate judge's proposed recommendation by filing written objections to the report and recommendation within fourteen days after being served with a copy of the same. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Civil Rule 72.1(b). No objections have been filed in this case and the matter is now ripe for the Court's consideration.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Where the parties object to a report and recommendation, this Court “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report which objection is made.” Id. Where, however, no objections are filed, the district court need not conduct a de novo review.

         The Ninth Circuit has interpreted the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) as follows:

The statute [28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C)] makes it clear that the district judge must review the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not otherwise. . . .to the extent de novo review is required to satisfy Article III concerns, it need not be exercised unless requested by the parties. Neither the Constitution nor the statute requires a district judge to review, de novo, findings and recommendations that the parties themselves accept as correct.

United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Wang v. Masaitis, 416 F.3d 993, 1000 & n.13 (9th Cir. 2005).

         Further, to the extent that no objections are made, arguments to the contrary are waived. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72; 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (objections are waived if they are not filed within fourteen days of service of the report and recommendation). Thus, “[w]hen no timely objection is filed, the Court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note to 1983 amendment (citing Campbell v. United States Dist. Court, 501 F.2d 196, 206 (9th Cir. 1974)).


         The complete procedural background and facts of this case are well articulated in the Report and the Court incorporates the same in this Order. In a prior order (Dkt. 50), the Court outlined the status of each Defendant in this case. Some Defendants were not properly served-nor have they been to this day-and many appear immune from suit. That aside, three Defendants have appeared and respectively filed motions to dismiss. These motions are the substance of Judge Dale's Report.

         This Court has reviewed the entire Report as well as the full record in this matter for clear error and finds none. Moreover, this Court agrees with the Report's recitation of the facts, discussion of the applicable law, analysis, reasoning, and conclusions. For these reasons, the Court will adopt the Report and grant the respective motions to dismiss. The Court will also-in accordance with the Report-allow Paddock to file an amended complaint. If Paddock elects to file an amended complaint, however, it must conform with the “Leave to Amend Complaint” section of the Report. Of the four claims Paddock alleges against KIDS Services, she will only be allowed to amend her Fourteenth Amendment claim to set forth an appropriate factual basis. Paddock will not be allowed to amend her Thirteenth Amendment claim against KIDS Services, nor her Idaho state law claims for invasion of privacy or violations of the Idaho Human Rights Act, as no amendment could save those claims. Likewise, Paddock will only be allowed to amend her invasion of privacy (tort) claims against Ballou and Dixon. She will not be allowed to amend her Sixth Amendment claims or her Idaho state civil rights claims against either Ballou or Dixon as amendments to these claims would also be futile.

         IV. ORDER

         The Court HEREBY ORDERS:

1. The Report and Recommendation entered on June 19, 2018, attached below, (Dkt. 54) is ADOPTED IN ITS ENTIRETY.
2. Defendant KIDS Services, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 10) is GRANTED.
3. Defendant Andrew Ballou's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 40) is GRANTED.
4. Defendant Briana Dixon's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 41) is GRANTED.
5. Plaintiff is GRANTED LEAVE to file an amended complaint to cure deficiencies identified in the Report as outlined. If Plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint, such must be filed within 30 days of this decision. The Court may review the same to ensure compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 and Judge Dale's Report.


          Candy W. Dale, United States Magistrate Judge


         Pending before the Court are three motions to dismiss filed by Defendants KIDS Services, Inc., Andrew Ballou, [1] and Briana Dixon. (Dkt. 10, 40, 41.) The motions to dismiss are ripe for the Court's consideration. Having reviewed the record herein, the Court finds the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the motions will be decided on the record without oral argument. Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1(d).

         The pertinent claims asserted against the moving parties[2] begin with count one, brought under Section 1983, which claims that Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment right to familial association was violated by Defendants KIDS Services and Briana Dixon, Defendant Ballou's girlfriend (or spouse). (Dkt. 1, p. 13.) Next, Plaintiff alleges violations of the Sixth Amendment against Ballou in count two, and the Thirteenth Amendment against Defendant KIDS Services and “CPS Workers” in count three. Id.

         Turning to Plaintiff's state law claims, count five alleges a violation of her state civil rights by all Defendants, but does not state which specific rights were violated. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 74-87.) And second, Plaintiff alleges in count nine that all Defendants committed the tort of invasion of privacy. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 88-94.) After careful consideration of the briefing, the standard of review, and relevant authorities, the Court will recommend that all three motions to dismiss be granted.


         Plaintiff Shalynn Paddock (Plaintiff), who appears pro se in this matter, brings both constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Section 1983) and state law claims. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 1.) Defendants in this case are: Canyon County, Canyon County Sheriff's Department, Caldwell Police Department, Raychelle Minden, Miranda Squibb, Jasmine Olmedo, Araceli Luna, Officer T. Edwards, Officer Defur, Kids In Divorce Support Services, Inc. (KIDS Services), [3] Briana Dixon, and Andrew Ballou. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 4-15.) Defendants Minden, Squibb, Olmedo, and Luna are identified as employees of Child Protective Services (CPS) in Canyon County. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 7-10, 16.) Defendant Officers Edwards and Defur are both employees of the Caldwell Police Department. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 11- 12.) KIDS Services is a private company located in Canyon County. (Dkt. 1, ¶13; (Dkt. 13.) It appears Andrew Ballou is the father of one of Plaintiff's children, M.B., and Briana Dixon is either Ballou's girlfriend or spouse. When reading the caption and complaint together, it is unclear if the government employees named as defendants are being sued in their individual capacities, their official capacities, or both, as the information in the caption does not fully align with the allegations in the complaint.

         Plaintiff asserts that all named Defendants deprived her of various constitutional and state rights during investigations regarding allegations of child abuse, which later resulted in the removal of her minor children from the home. (Dkt. 1.) Plaintiff states the investigation stemmed from allegations that Plaintiff's son, M.B., was not being fed, had bruises on his body from being hit by Plaintiff, had bedbugs present in his bed, and was often locked in his bedroom for long periods of time. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 20; see also Report, Dkt. 1-2 at 4.) Additional allegations in the underlying investigation included that drugs and drug paraphernalia were present in the home, and that Plaintiff was consuming alcohol while breastfeeding. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 20.)

         Plaintiff was subjected to numerous welfare checks performed by both CPS employees and law enforcement officials, where the purpose was to ensure that Plaintiff's children were living in a safe environment. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 20, 22.) On November 17, 2017, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Defur was in possession of a protection order that instructed him to remove M.B. from Plaintiff's home, which he did, based on the continuing allegations of child abuse. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 23.) KIDS Services later facilitated supervised visitations between M.B. and Plaintiff. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 23, 26.)

         KIDS Services charged Plaintiff a sixty-dollar intake fee, as well as fifty dollars per hour to participate in supervised visits with M.B. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 26.) Plaintiff asserts that KIDS Services told her when and how long her visits with M.B. would be - she was not given a choice in the matter. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 26.) After the first visit with M.B., Plaintiff contacted KIDS Services to find out when her next visitation was scheduled, but Plaintiff did not receive a response from KIDS Services. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 35.) Last, Plaintiff alleges that KIDS Services scheduled a visitation appointment, failed to inform Plaintiff about the appointment, and then charged Plaintiff forty dollars for missing the appointment. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 35, 37.)

         Another incident occurred on December 9, 2017. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 30.) According to Plaintiff's complaint, Defendants Olmedo and Officer Edwards arrived at Plaintiff's home with the intent of performing a welfare check. Specifically, they requested to check on Plaintiff's infant daughter, A.P., as they believed the baby had rashes on her body, and had been given soda by way of bottle-feeding. Id. Upon arrival, Defendants allegedly pushed their way into Plaintiff's home. Id. Plaintiff asserts she did not provide Defendants with consent to enter the home and told them to leave. Id. Defendants Olmedo and Officer Edwards allegedly forced Plaintiff to remove her daughter's clothing so she could be inspected for rashes by these Defendants. Id. Plaintiff's home was also searched by these officials, which included a search for bedbugs in the mattresses and a search of Plaintiff's roommate's bedroom. Id. It is unclear from Plaintiff's complaint whether Defendants Olmedo and Officer Edwards had obtained judicial authorization prior to entering and searching the home, and examining A.P. Id.

         On February 6, 2018, KIDS Services filed a motion to dismiss. (Dkt. 10.) Plaintiff was provided an opportunity to respond to the motion, and she received notice regarding how to do so. (Dkt. 11.) Plaintiff filed a document on February 27, 2018, titled “Questions for KIDS Services' Council [sic] Concerning Motion to Dismiss.” (Dkt. 26.) KIDS Services responded to Plaintiff's filing by indicating that Plaintiff did not address the legal issues raised by KIDS Services in its motion to dismiss. (Dkt. 32.) KIDS Services asserts that Plaintiff failed to allege facts to support a cognizable cause of action against it, and requests the Court grant its motion to dismiss. Id.

         Plaintiff later filed an opposition to KIDS Services' motion to dismiss on April 5, 2018. (Dkt. 44.) Plaintiff opposes the motion on the grounds that a conflict of interest exists, because legal counsel for KIDS Services is also a director of the organization. Plaintiff alleges also that KIDS Services “has a close monetary relationship with the courts thus causing a biased relationship in favor of the wishes of the courts, police, prosecutors, and judges.” KIDS Services responded, asserting that the objections Plaintiff raised are insufficient as a matter of law to defeat its motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff failed to identify any substantive issues of law which would affect the motion. (Dkt. 49.)

         On April 3, 2018, Defendants Ballou and Dixon separately filed motions to dismiss with accompanying memoranda, which are nearly identical to each other, and substantially similar to KIDS Services memorandum. (Dkt. 40, 41.) Ballou raises three arguments. First, that this is a custody dispute and the complaint raises frivolous allegations against Ballou that should be resolved in state court. (Dkt. 40, 31.)[4] Second, Ballou contends that, to the extent Plaintiff alleges civil rights violations against him, Plaintiff failed to file a complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission prior to filing suit. And third, Ballou asserts that Plaintiff's claim for invasion of privacy is not viable. Dixon raises the same arguments in her motion to dismiss. (Dkt. 41-1.)

         Additionally, in their answers, both Ballou and Dixon asserted that the complaint failed to state claims against them upon which relief could be granted. (Dkt. 30, 31.)

         In response, Plaintiff argues neither Ballou nor Dixon addressed all of the allegations made against them in her Complaint; discovery has not yet been conducted so she cannot support her claims; the custody matter is a separate matter, and has no relationship to the civil rights claims she brings here; and last, that she is not required to file a complaint with any state agency if she believes “there will be no fair resolution at the state level.” (Dkt. 51, 52.)[5]


         1. Motion to Dismiss

         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” 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. at 555. The principle “that a court must accept a complaint's allegations as true is inapplicable to threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (citing Twombly at 555).

         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.” Twombly 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.

         The United States Supreme Court identified two “working principles” that underlie Twombly in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, the Court need not accept as true legal conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. Id. Rule 8 does not “unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Id. at 678-79. Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must state a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. “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.

         Additionally, a pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). “A pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Id. (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (internal quotation marks omitted). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, the Court must construe her pleadings liberally and afford her the benefit of any doubt. See Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985) (en banc).

         2. ...

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