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Stewart v. City of Oklahoma City

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

July 17, 2018

PATRICK STEWART and LORIE STEWART, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF OKLAHOMA CITY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          VICKI MILES-LAGRANGE, JUDGE

         Before the Court is defendants City of Oklahoma City (“City”) and William J. Citty's (“Citty”) Motion to Dismiss Portions of Plaintiffs' Complaint, filed May 25, 2018. On June 13, 2018, plaintiffs filed their response, and on June 20, 2018, defendants City and Citty filed their reply.

         I. Introduction

         On May 1, 2018, plaintiffs filed the instant action against defendants. In their first cause of action, plaintiffs allege that defendants used and disclosed recordings of oral communications in violation of the Electronic Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2510, et seq. In their second cause of action, plaintiffs allege a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against defendant City and Citty for violation of plaintiffs' rights of privacy under the United States Constitution. Defendants City and Citty now move this Court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss certain portions of plaintiffs' Complaint.

         II. Motion to dismiss standard

         Regarding the standard for determining whether to dismiss a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the United States Supreme Court has held:

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. 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. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Further, “where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Additionally, “[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. at 678 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Finally, “[a] court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint presumes all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991).

         III. Discussion

         A. Defendant Citty in his official capacity

         Defendant Citty moves this Court to dismiss any claims asserted against him in his official capacity. In their response, plaintiffs state that they have not asserted any claims against defendant Citty in his official capacity. Further, having reviewed plaintiffs' Complaint, the Court finds that it is unclear whether any claims are being asserted against defendant Citty in his official capacity; however, in the caption of the Complaint, defendant Citty is only listed in his individual capacity. In light of plaintiffs' statement that they are not asserting any claims against defendant Citty in his official capacity, the Court finds that defendant Citty's motion to dismiss any claims asserted against him in his official capacity is moot.

         B. Plaintiffs' § 1983 constitutional right to privacy claims

         Defendants City and Citty assert that plaintiffs have failed to state a § 1983 claim for violation of their constitutional right to privacy. Specifically, defendants City and Citty contend that plaintiffs are required to specifically allege where in the Constitution the right allegedly violated can be found.[1] However, upon review of the cases cited by defendants City and Citty, the Court finds no specific pleading requirement to specifically allege where in the Constitution the right allegedly violated can be found.

         Further, the Court finds that it is well established that an individual does have a constitutional right of privacy, which includes the individual interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters and the individual interest in independence in making certain kinds of important decisions relating to marriage, family relationships, and child rearing. See Carey v. Population Servs., 431 U.S. 678, 684-85 (1977); Sheets v. Salt Lake Cty, 45 F.3d 1383, 1387 (10th Cir. 1995). In their second cause of action, plaintiffs allege that defendants City and Citty enacted and adopted the interpretation of an overly broad off duty conduct policy that (1) sought to regulate off duty conduct related to marriage, family relationships, and child rearing, (2) authorized an Internal Affairs investigation, and (3) allowed disclosure of private information gathered during the Internal Affairs investigation related to off duty conduct. In their Complaint, plaintiffs allege ...


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