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Diamond v. Hastie

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

March 16, 2018

ANITRA DIAMOND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
KIMBERLY HASTIE, in her individual capacity, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          WILLIAM E. CASSADY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This cause is before the Magistrate Judge for issuance of a report and recommendation, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and S.D. Ala. Gen. L.R. 72(a)(2)(S), on Defendant Nick Matranga's, in his official capacity as the current Mobile County License Commissioner and a Mobile County employee, Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Class Action Complaint (“motion to dismiss”), (Doc. 37), which was filed on September 25, 2017. Upon consideration of the parties' pleadings, (Docs. 37, 38, 40, 47, 49, & 50), and those arguments presented at the hearing in regard to Defendant Matranga's motion to dismiss, (see Docs. 39 & 42), it is RECOMMENDED Defendant Matranga's motion to dismiss, (Doc. 37), be GRANTED.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In August 2013, Defendant Kimberly Hastie, as the Mobile County License Commissioner (the “MCLC”), ordered an employee of the Mobile County License Commission to access motor vehicle records and, then, gather the email addresses of Mobile County residents who resided within the City of Mobile limits. (Doc. 36, ¶¶ 21-22). Defendant Hastie, further, ordered the employee to place those email addresses on an electronic storage device, and the electronic storage device was provided to the campaign of a local political candidate, which information was used by the campaign to promote the local political candidate. (Doc. 36, ¶¶ 21-22).

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This class action was originally filed in this Court on April 14, 2015, by Plaintiffs Anitra Diamond and Lebarron Yates, who brought claims against Defendant Hastie, in her individual and official capacity as the MCLC and a Mobile County; Chad Tucker, in his individual and official capacity as a Strateco, LLC, employee; and Strateco, LLC. (Doc. 1). The plaintiffs' first claim was against all the defendants for violation of the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2721, et seq., (the “DPPA”), and their second claim was against Defendant Hastie for violation 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 12-31).

         On May 8, 2015, the parties filed a joint motion to stay this matter pending a criminal matter that involved Defendant Hastie and included potentially similar issues, (Doc. 7), which the Court granted and stayed this matter until September 1, 2015, (Doc. 9). On August 20, 2015, Defendant Hastie filed a motion to extend the stay for nine (9) additional months based on her conviction for the “Prohibited Release and Use of Personal Information from State Motor Vehicle Records, ” in the criminal case, United States v. Hastie, Case No. 1:14-cr-00291-KD, and her intent to appeal her conviction to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. (Doc. 10, ¶¶ 3-4). The Court granted Defendant Hastie's motion to extend the stay and stayed this matter until June 1, 2016. (Doc. 15, at 3). On May 23, 2016, Defendant Hastie filed another motion to extend the stay for an additional seven (7) months while her appeal of her criminal conviction was pending with the Eleventh Circuit. (Doc. 19, ¶ 5). The Court granted in part and denied in part Defendant Hastie's second motion to extend and stayed this matter until seven (7) days after the Eleventh Circuit's issuance of its mandate in her criminal matter. (Doc. 20). On July 3, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit issued its mandate in Defendant Hastie's criminal case, and this Court lifted the stay in this matter on July 11, 2017, and ordered Defendant Hastie to file her responsive pleading. (Doc. 21).

         On July 28, 2017, Defendant Matranga, who was substituted as a defendant pursuant to Rule 25(d), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (hereinafter “FRCP” followed by the Rule number) because he assumed the office of MCLC on October 1, 2015, filed his Motion to Dismiss pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 23). On July 31, 2017, Defendant Hastie filed her Answer. (Doc. 25). On August 18, 2017, the plaintiffs filed their First Amended Class Action Complaint as a matter of course, pursuant to FRCP 15(a)(1)(B), (Doc. 28), in which they brought claims against Defendant Hastie, in her individual and official capacity as the MCLC and a Mobile County employee, and Defendant Matranga, in his individual and official capacity as the current MCLC and a Mobile County employee, for violations of the DPPA and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (Doc. 28, ¶¶ 32-52). On August 31, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal to dismiss without prejudice their claims against Defendant Matranga in his individual capacity, (Doc. 30), that the Court construed as a motion for leave to amend[1] their complaint, which the Court provisionally granted if the defendants did not file an objection, (Doc. 34).

         The plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Class Action Complaint on September 22, 2017, (Doc. 36), in which they brought claims against Defendant Hastie, in her individual and official capacity as the MCLC and a Mobile County employee, and Defendant Matranga, in his official capacity as the current MCLC and a Mobile County employee, for violations of the DPPA and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (Doc. 36, ¶¶ 32-54). On September 25, 2017, Defendant Matranga filed his Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Class Action Complaint, (Doc. 37), the plaintiffs filed their response in opposition, (Doc. 38), and Defendant Matranga filed his reply, (Doc. 40). The undersigned set Defendant Matranga's motion to dismiss for oral argument on October 12, 2017. (Doc. 39). Defendant Hastie filed her Answer to Plaintiffs' Second Amended Class Action Complaint on October 9, 2017. (Doc. 41).

         Following oral argument in regard to Defendant Matranga's motion to dismiss, (Doc. 42), the undersigned ordered the parties to file supplemental briefing, (Doc. 43), which the parties submitted, (see Docs. 47, 49, & 50). On November 11, 27, 2017, the plaintiffs filed their Motion for Leave to File Limited Surreply Brief to address arguments that were raised for the first time in Defendant Matranga's supplemental reply brief. (Doc. 51).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         FRCP 12(b)(6)

         Pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6) a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint on the basis that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (“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.' [Twombly, 550 U.S.] at 570, 127 S.Ct. [at] 1955. 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. Id. at 556, 127 S.Ct. [at] 1955.”). Since a FRCP 12(b)(6) motion questions the legal sufficiency of a complaint, in assessing the merits of a FRCP 12(b)(6) motion, the court must assume that all the factual allegations set forth in the complaint are true. See, e.g., United States v. Gaubert, 499 U.S. 315, 327, 111 S.Ct. 1267, 1276, 113 L.Ed.2d 335 (1991); Powell v. Lennon, 914 F.2d 1459, 1463 (11th Cir. 1990); but see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (“[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. [Twombly, 550 U.S.] at 555, 127 S.Ct. [at] 1955.”). Moreover, all factual allegations are to be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Brower v. County of Inyo, 489 U.S. 593, 598, 109 S.Ct. 1378, 1382, 103 L.Ed.2d 628 (1989). Obviously, therefore, a district court may not resolve factual disputes when adjudicating a motion to dismiss. Page v. Postmaster Gen. and Chief Exec. Officer of the U.S. Postal Serv., 493 Fed.Appx. 994, 995 (11th Cir. 2012) (citing, among other cases, Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990) (indicating that, under Rule 12(b)(6), the existence of disputed material facts precludes a district court from granting a motion to dismiss)). “‘When considering a motion to dismiss . . . the court limits its consideration to the pleadings and all exhibits attached thereto.'” Thaeter v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 449 F.3d 1342, 1352 (11th Cir. 2006), quoting Grossman v. Nationsbank, N.A., 225 F.3d 1228, 1231 (11th Cir. 2000) (per curiam); see also Reese v. Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams, LLP, 678 F.3d 1211, 1215-16 (11th Cir. 2012) (“Because the Ellis law firm's dunning letter and enclosed documents were attached to the Reeses' complaint as an exhibit, we treat them as part of the complaint for Rule 12(b)(6) purposes.”).

         FRCP ...


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