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Isbelle v. Denney

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 29, 2019

RYAN ISBELLE, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWERENCE DENNEY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DAVID C. NYE, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Lawerence Denney's Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. 2. Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motion without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1)(B). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT the Motion. However, the Court will grant Plaintiff Ryan Isbelle leave to amend his Complaint to cure deficiencies outlined in this decision.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Ryan Isbelle is an Idaho citizen residing in Lewiston, Idaho. Isbelle claims that Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney failed to protect his rights to Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Denney was Secretary of State in 2013 when the Idaho Legislature passed an amendment to Idaho Code section 34-1805. Idaho Code section 34-1805 regulates the number of signers required for ballot initiatives or referendums. The amendment passed in 2013 requires those who wish to have an initiative placed on the ballot to obtain signatures of legal voters equal in number to at least six percent of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election in at least eighteen legislative districts. Isbelle alleges that this requirement damages his right to participate in the initiative process.

         On March 19, 2019, Isbelle brought suit against Denney seeking invalidation of the geographic distribution requirement of Idaho Code section 34-1805. Dkt. 1. On April 9, 2019, Denney filed the instant Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 2.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) challenges the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. A lack of jurisdiction is presumed unless the party asserting jurisdiction establishes that it exists. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Thus, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Sopcak v. Northern Mountain Helicopter Serv., 52 F.3d 817, 818 (9th Cir. 1995). If the court determines that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss the claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim challenges the legal sufficiency of the claims stated in the complaint. Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011). “A complaint generally must satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) to avoid dismissal under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” Id. (citing Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003)). “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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

         To sufficiently state a claim for relief and survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the pleading “does not need detailed factual allegations;” however, the “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. Mere “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. Rather, there must be “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. In other words, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         In light of Twombly and Iqbal, the Ninth Circuit summarized the governing standard as follows: “In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.” Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the pleading under attack. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. A court is not, however, “required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         In cases decided after Iqbal and Twombly, the Ninth Circuit has continued to adhere to the rule that a dismissal of a complaint without leave to amend is inappropriate unless it is beyond doubt that the complaint could not be saved by an amendment. See Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 573 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2009).

         IV. ...


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