United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND
GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' LEAVE TO AMEND THE
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Pierce
County's ("County") motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim (Dkt. 6). The Court has considered
the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the
motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the
motion for the reasons stated herein.
September 1, 2016, Plaintiffs Laura and Steve Berry
("Berrys") filed a complaint against the County in
Thurston County Superior Court for the State of Washington.
Dkt. 1, Exh. A ("Comp.").
October 11, 2016, the County removed the matter to this
Court. Dkt. 1.
October 18, 2016, the County filed the motion to dismiss.
Dkt. 6. On November 28, 2016, the Berrys responded. Dkt. 11.
On December 2, 2016, the County replied. Dkt. 12.
Berry is a corrections officer at the County Jail. Comp.,
¶ 3.1. On December 29, 2014, inmate Aaron Leigh filed a
complaint against Mr. Berry alleging that Mr. Berry assaulted
him. Id. The Berrys allege that “Mr. Leigh has
a violent history, including the shooting of a police
officer, numerous drug and firearm related offenses and
numerous threats to kill law enforcement officers and their
families.” Id., ¶ 3.2.
to the dismissal of the suit against Mr. Berry, Mr. Leigh
filed a public records request. Id., ¶ 3.3.
Although Mr. Berry alleges that he was informed of the
request as well as the fact that he would be provided with an
opportunity to review any material before it was produced,
the County produced material to Mr. Leigh without allowing
Mr. Berry any review. Id., ¶¶ 3.9, 3.10.
The Berrys allege further that:
On January 25, 2016, Plaintiff Stephen Berry was provided
with a copy of what had been released to Mr. Leigh. Within a
short time, Plaintiff Stephen Berry discovered that not only
had his private information been released to Mr. Leigh, but
also the private information of his wife, Plaintiff Laura
Berry. Included in the private information were such
disclosures as their private residence address, social
security numbers, Driver's License Numbers, home and work
phone numbers, and places of employment for both. All such
information had been delivered to such address as Mr. Aaron
Leigh had directed.
Id., ¶ 3.11. In producing this information, the
Berrys assert that the County violated state and local
statutes and the Berrys' federal and state constitutional
rights. Id., ¶ 5.1.
to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure may be based on either the lack of a
cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts
alleged under such a theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica
Police Department, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
Material allegations are taken as admitted and the complaint
is construed in the plaintiff's favor. Keniston v.
Roberts, 717 F.2d 1295, 1301 (9th Cir. 1983). To survive
a motion to dismiss, the complaint does not require detailed
factual allegations but must provide the grounds for
entitlement to relief and not merely a “formulaic
recitation” of the elements of a cause of action.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965
(2007). Plaintiffs must allege “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 1974. When deciding a motion to dismiss, the
Court's consideration is limited to the pleadings.
case, the Court agrees with the County that the Berrys'
claims fails to identify sufficient facts to state claims.
Regarding the federal claim, the Berrys assert that the
“release of Plaintiffs' confidential information by
Defendant acting under color of law constitutes a deprivation
of Plaintiffs' right of privacy, in violation of 42 USC
1983.” Comp., ¶ 5.1(h). This claim fails for
numerous reasons, including the fact that the County must act
through an individual employee. See,
e.g., Hanigan v. City of Kent,
C06-176JLR, 2006 WL 3544603, at *6 (W.D. Wash. Dec. 8, 2006).
The Berrys may only recover from the County if their injury
was inflicted pursuant to city policy, regulation, custom, or
usage. See Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Serv. of City of
N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). The Berrys' claim
does not include sufficient allegations to meet ...