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Akmal v. City of Kent

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

April 24, 2014

MARIYAM AKMAL, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF KENT, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT CITY OF KENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the court is Defendant City of Kent's ("City") motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Mot. (Dkt. # 49)) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court has examined the submissions of the parties, the balance of the record, and the governing law. Being fully advised, the court GRANTS Defendant City of Kent's motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

Mariyam Akmal filed the instant case on March 5, 2013, and has since amended her complaint three times. ( See Compl. (Dkt. # 4); Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 27); 2d Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 43); 3d Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 53).) Ms. Akmal's four complaints are similar to one another. In each, she alleges a laundry list of civil rights violations against the City of Kent, the Kent Police Department ("Kent Police"), and other public figures. ( See generally 3d Am. Compl.) Ms. Akmal sues the City directly and under the doctrine of respondeat superior. ( Id. ¶ 7.) The crux of her allegations is that Kent Police and other public officials in the City engaged in a "civil conspiracy" against her. ( See 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 34.) In connection with these allegations, she alleges violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, § 1985, § 1986, § 1988, both the United States and Washington Constitutions, and privacy torts. (3d Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) Ms. Akmal seeks monetary, declaratory and injunctive relief. ( Id. at 23.)

At the heart of Ms. Akmal's conspiracy allegations are claims that the Kent Police discriminated against her on the basis of religion, race, and gender. ( Id. ¶ 18.) Ms. Akmal is an African-American Muslim. ( Id. ) She claims that Kent Police "repeatedly, over a decade, refused to allow her to lodge crime reports, " complaining that she has been "harassed both electronically and in real life, as well as stalked by a networked group of mostly anonymous individuals." ( Id. )

Further, she claims that the City retaliated against her for attempting to lodge those complaints. She alleges that she gave her contact information to the City for investigatory purposes at the City Clerk's request. Subsequently, she claims that her complaints were not investigated and that the City used her personal information to stalk her and invade her private life. ( Id. 33.) This included allegedly "entering her home while in her absence, taking items from her home, going through her personal correspondence, computers, etc. and then using this gleaned knowledge to anonymously stalk, track, and taunt her...." ( Id. ) In addition to these searches, Ms. Akmal claims that she was threatened by agents of the City. ( Id. ) She states, "[t]o date, they continue to send her veiled threats of physical harm-I can hurt you, ' you know what they say about the squeaky wheel, ' references to playing Cowboys & Muslims' but dipping the bullet in pig grease first...." ( Id. ) Further, she claims that the Kent Police had her fired, stole money from her bank account, and painted her in a false light by disseminating a document containing her photograph and personal information to the City. ( Id. ¶¶ 36, 37, 39.) She alleges that the Kent Police justified disseminating her information on the basis that she lawfully owns a firearm, creating issues of officer safety. ( Id. 39.)

On March 13, 2014, the court granted Defendant Michael Alston's motion to dismiss. ( See 3/13/14 Order (Dkt. # 52).) Now the City moves to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Mot. to Dismiss (Dkt. # 49).) Relying solely on case law decided before the Supreme Court's decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), Ms. Akmal argues that she pleads sufficient facts to survive the City's motion. ( See generally Resp. (Dkt. # 54)).

III. ANALYSIS

A. The City's Motion to Dismiss

Ms. Akmal asserts causes of action that can be divided into three groups. The first group of claims are statutory civil rights causes of action, including 42. U.S.C. § 1981, § 1985, § 1986 and § 1988. (3d Am. Compl. ¶ 17.) The second group consists of state law claims, including false light, defamation, and violation of Article I, Section VII of the Washington Constitution. ( Id. ¶ 57.) The third is a § 1983 claim alleging violations of the First, Second, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. ( See id. ¶ 60.) Given that there appears to be a slightly different pleading standard in the Ninth Circuit for § 1983 suits against local governments, the court will address her § 1983 claim separately.

1. Standard for Dismissal Under Rule 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 sets the general requirements for pleadings. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Rule 8 requires that the plaintiff include three things in his or her complaint: (1) a statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction; "(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief;" and (3) a prayer for relief. Id. In Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, and Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, the Supreme Court explained the pleading requirement set forth in Rule 8. In doing so, the Court abrogated the "notice pleading" standard that was based on its decision in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957). See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563. Instead, the Court held that Rule 8 requires a complaint to contain factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above a speculative level." Id. at 555.

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss under Twombly and Iqbal, a complaint must contain factual matter sufficient to support a facially plausible claim to relief. Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 662). A claim for relief is plausible on its face when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 662. Though this standard is not a probability requirement, it requires the plaintiff to do more than present facts tending to show that the defendant might be liable. Id. A complaint crosses the threshold from conceivable to plausible when it contains factual matter alleged with sufficient specificity to raise entitlement to relief above the speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Otherwise stated, "the pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, thedefendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotations and citations omitted). "Apart from factual sufficiency, a complaint is also subject to dismissal [under Rule 12(b)(6)] where it lacks a cognizable legal theory, or where the allegations on their face show that relief is barred for some legal reason." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 ...


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