United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
B. Leighton United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss [Dkt. #14]. After spending nearly 50 years in prison,
Plaintiff Dawud Malik, formerly known as David Riggins, was
paroled on October 25, 2015. One of his parole conditions was
that he was not to enter or reside in King County,
Washington, without prior permission of his assigned
community corrections officer. On November 2, 2015, Malik
received permission from his parole officer to attend a
funeral in Seattle. During that visit, Malik also had lunch
with his attorney, Felix Luna. Malik reported the lunch to
his parole officer. As a result, his parole was revoked, and
he was incarcerated for 30 days.
sued. He claims that both his parole's
“banishment” provision, and his incarceration for
violating it, were unconstitutional. The State has since
lifted the banishment order, but Malik claims the State still
requires him to obtain prior permission before entering King
County, violating his constitutional right to
“travel.” Malik further alleges similar state
tort claims of negligence, negligent and intentional
infliction of emotional distress, and outrage arising from
his “unlawful banishment” and
“unlawful” arrest and imprisonment.
seek judgment on the pleadings under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). They
argue (1) they are absolutely immune from Malik's claims
because they performed quasi-judicial functions; (2) they are
entitled to qualified immunity because Malik's
constitutional right to reside or work in King County was not
clearly established; (3) Malik's 42 U.S.C § 1983
claims fail because Defendants, acting in their official
capacity, are not “persons;” and (4) Malik fails
to state a damages claim under state law because a
parolee's disagreement with his conditions of release is
not actionable in tort. The parties seem to agree that Malik
could state a viable claim for declaratory or injunctive
extent Malik seeks money damages, however, Defendants are
correct that they enjoy quasi-judicial immunity. To be sure,
the Court is troubled by Malik's 30-day incarceration for
taking a seemingly legitimate “detour” on his way
home from an approved visit to King County, which he told his
parole officer about. Defendants declined the Court's
invitation to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding this
event. While that failure does not deprive the Defendants of
immunity, it is disappointing.
under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on either the lack of a
cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts
alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v.
Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.
1990). A plaintiff's complaint must allege facts to state
a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. See
Aschcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). A claim
has “facial plausibility” when the party seeking
relief “pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Although the
Court must accept as true the Complaint's well-pled
facts, conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted
inferences will not defeat a Rule 12(c) motion. Vazquez
v. L.A. Cty., 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007);
Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988
(9th Cir. 2001). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to
provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(citations and footnotes omitted). This requires a plaintiff
to plead “more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly).
Iqbal establishes the standard for deciding a Rule
12(b)(6) motion, Rule 12(c) is “functionally
identical” to Rule 12(b)(6) and that “the same
standard of review” applies to motions brought under
either rule. Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. General Dynamics C4
Systems, Inc., 647 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2011), citing
Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192
(9th Cir. 1989); see also Gentilello v. Rege, 627
F.3d 540, 544 (5th Cir. 2010) (applying Iqbal to a
Rule 12(c) motion).
12(b)(6) motion, “a district court should grant leave
to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made,
unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be
cured by the allegation of other facts.” Cook,
Perkiss & Liehe v. N. Cal. Collection Serv., 911
F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990). However, where the facts are
not in dispute, and the sole issue is whether there is
liability as a matter of substantive law, the court may deny
leave to amend. Albrecht v. Lund, 845 F.2d 193,
195-96 (9th Cir. 1988).
A. Defendants are entitled to absolute quasi-judicial
Defendant Parole Board, its members, and the community
corrections officers who enforce board-imposed conditions
claim they are entitled to absolute quasi-judicial immunity
because the Board is “closely associated with the
judicial process, ” and acts “in the place of the
court.” Dkt. 14; Dkt. 23. Malik responds that nothing
on the face of his complaint would permit the Court to
determine that the imposition and enforcement of the
provision at issue is closely associated with the judicial
process; thus, Malik claims Defendants are not entitled to
absolute quasi-judicial immunity. Dkt. 21.
an official's role is functionally equivalent to that of
a judge, the official will be granted equivalent
immunity.” Sellars v. Procunier, 641 F.2d
1295, 1303 (9th Cir. 1981). “[P]arole board officials
perform functionally comparable tasks to judges when they
decide to grant, deny, or revoke parole.” Id.
Determining a prisoner's actual term of confinement is a
task historically performed by courts. Taggart v.
State, 822 P.2d 243, 248-49 (Wash. 1992). Thus, the
rationale underlying judicial immunity applies forcefully to
the Board's parole decisions. Id.
“[p]arole officers are entitled to quasi-judicial
immunity only for those functions they perform that are an
integral part of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding . .
. such as enforcing the conditions of parole. But when the
officer takes purely supervisory or administrative actions,
no such protection arises.” Taggart, 822 P.2d
at 252. Nevertheless, “[w]hen an administrative action
resembles judicial action, the rationale behind granting
judges immunity-the need for independent and impartial
decision making-applies with equal force.” Id.
at 247. Quasi-judicial immunity also extends to the
Department of Corrections when it sets, modifies, or enforces
conditions of community custody. Tibbits v. State
Dep't of Corr., 346 P.3d 767, 769 (Wash.Ct.App.
2015); Wash. ...