United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Honorable Edward J. Lodge, U.S. District Judge.
the Court in the above entitled matter is the Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss. (Dkt. 9.) The Motion is ripe for the
Court's consideration. The facts and legal arguments are
adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly,
in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the
Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would
not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Motion is
decided based on the record.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Kaylyn Franks, is a long-time employee of the Farm Services
Agency (FSA), a division of the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) (collectively USDA/FSA). Ms. Franks brings
this action against her employer, naming as Defendants the
agency as well as particular persons in both their official
and individual capacities, alleging gender discrimination,
retaliation, and violation of her First Amendment rights.
(Dkt. 1.) Specifically, Ms. Franks alleges for the past two
to three years she has been subjected to gender
discrimination and been retaliated against for raising
legitimate concerns regarding her gender discrimination in
the workplace. The discrimination and retaliation claims are
made under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-5 et seq., and the First Amendment claim
is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
filed the instant Motion seeking dismissal of the § 1983
claim, the USDA, Defendant Sonny Purdue in his individual
capacity, Defendant Mark Samson, and Paragraph 8 of the
Complaint. (Dkt. 9.) No. response has been filed and the time
for doing so has passed.
motion to dismiss made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a party's
claim for relief. When considering such a motion, the
Court's inquiry is whether the allegations in a pleading
are sufficient under applicable pleading standards. Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) sets forth minimum pleading
rules, requiring only a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
general, a motion to dismiss will only be granted if the
complaint fails to allege “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). “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. 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citations omitted). Although “we must take
all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we
are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as
a factual allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. Therefore, “conclusory allegations of law and
unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim.” Caviness v.
Horizon Comm. Learning Cent., Inc., 590 F.3d 806, 811-12
(9th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
Third Cause of Action: § 1983 Claim
Franks alleges Defendants violated her First Amendment rights
by advising her to refrain from filing a discrimination
complaint against the new leadership for the USDA/FSA offices
in Idaho. The named Defendants are all federal actors; i.e.
the USDA/FSA and employees or former employees of the
1983 provides a cause of action for violations of
constitutional and federal statutory rights. Naffe v.
Frey, 789 F.3d 1030, 1035 (9th Cir. 2015). To state a
claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege (1) the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States and (2) that the violation was committed by
a person acting under color of state law. West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Dismissal of a
§ 1983 claim is proper if the complaint is devoid of
factual allegations that give rise to a plausible inference
of either element.” Naffe, 789 F.3d at 1036.
Frank's § 1983 claim here fails to allege facts
plausibly suggesting any constitutional violation committed
by a person acting “under color of state law.”
Rather, the conduct complained of are actions allegedly taken
by a federal agency and federal actors. Such actions, by
definition, fail to satisfy § 1983's under color of
state law requirement. Section 1983 only provides a cause of
action against persons acting under color of state law,
thereby precluding liability for a federal government actor.
Ibrahim v. Dept. of Homeland Sec., 538 F.3d 1250,
1257 (9th Cir. 2008) (“[S]ection 1983 only provides a
remedy against persons acting under color of state
law.”). The Court therefore grants the Motion to
Dismiss as to the § 1983 claim. For the same reason, the
Court grants the Motion as to Paragraph 8 ...