Young v. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education

Filing 15

ORDER that Defendant's 11 Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate this action and enter judgment accordingly. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 6/21/2013.(LFIG)

Download PDF
1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 Jeanette Young, No. CV-13-08024-PCT-GMS Plaintiff, 10 ORDER 11 v. 12 United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education, 13 Defendant. 14 15 16 17 18 Pending before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss / Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 11.) For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is granted. BACKGROUND 19 Plaintiff, Jeanette Young, was an employee of the United States Department of the 20 Interior, Bureau of Indian Education (“BIE”). (Doc. 12.) She was terminated by the 21 Defendant, BIE, on May 20, 2011. (Id.) On January 29, 2013, Ms. Young filed a 22 complaint with this Court. (Doc. 1.) Ms. Young alleges that BIE violated her freedom of 23 religion in terminating her because of her refusal to be “saved.” (Doc. 1 at ¶ 6.) She 24 claims that her action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. 25 Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (Doc. 1 at 1.) BIE and Ms. Young are unable to 26 agree that Ms. Young’s pleading is curable by an amendment. (Doc. 12 at ¶ 9.) On April 27 22, 2013, BIE filed a Motion to Dismiss/ Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 11). The 28 1 deadline for a response by Ms. Young was on May 9, 2013 and no response was ever 2 filed. 3 DISCUSSION 4 5 I. Legal Standard 6 To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil 7 Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than “labels and conclusions” or a 8 “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action”; it must contain factual 9 allegations sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. 10 Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While “a complaint need not contain 11 detailed factual allegations . . . it must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is 12 plausible on its face.’” Clemens v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 534 F.3d 1017, 1022 (9th Cir. 13 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the 14 plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that 15 the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 16 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard “asks for more than a 17 sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. When a complaint does not 18 “permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has 19 alleged—but it has not shown—that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal 20 quotation omitted). 21 When analyzing a complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), “[a]ll 22 allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to 23 the nonmoving party.” Smith v. Jackson, 84 F.3d 1213, 1217 (9th Cir. 1996). However, 24 legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not given a presumption of 25 truthfulness, and “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are not 26 sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.” Pareto v. FDIC, 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 27 1998). 28 /// -2- 1 II. Analysis 2 A. Young Fails to State a Claim Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 3 Ms. Young contends that this action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1 at 1.) 4 The sole defendant in this action is BIE. (Id.) The BIE, as a federal agency, is part of the 5 United States and is not a state actor. “[T]he United States itself is not a state actor and 6 therefore does not come within the provisions of sections 1983 or 1985.” Psket v. U.S., 7 Dep't of Justice-Organized Crime Strike Force, 41 F.3d 1513 (9th Cir. 1994); see also 8 Dry v. United States, 235 F.3d 1249, 1255 (10th Cir. 2000) (holding that § 1983 is 9 “applicable only to actions by state and local entities, not by the federal government”). 10 Thus, § 1983 is not applicable to the BIE and Ms. Young has failed to state a valid claim 11 under § 1983. 12 Ms. Young also requests attorneys’ fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b). (Doc. 1 13 at 3.) Section 1988 gives discretion to the Court to allow a prevailing party in a claim 14 brought under § 1983 a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1988 15 (West). Ms. Young’s claim for attorneys’ fees based on § 1988 requires her to be a 16 prevailing party under her § 1983 claim. But, as discussed above, Ms. Young has failed 17 to state a valid claim under § 1983. Thus, there is no possible basis in Ms. Young’s 18 complaint for an award of attorney’s fees. 19 B. Young Fails to State a Claim Under Bivens 20 In Bivens, the Supreme Court recognized that a plaintiff may recover damages that 21 resulted from federal agents’ violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Bivens, 403 U.S. 22 at 397. “[T]he Supreme Court has held that no Bivens remedy is available against a 23 federal agency.” W. Radio Servs. Co. v. U.S. Forest Serv., 578 F.3d 1116, 1119 (9th Cir. 24 2009) (citing FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 484 (1994)). Ms. Young contends that this 25 action also arises under Bivens. (Doc. 1 at 1.) Ms. Young, however, does not explain how 26 or why Bivens applies and has not filed a response to BIE’s Motion to Dismiss. 27 In the present case, BIE, a federal agency, is the sole defendant. Thus, Ms. Young 28 has failed to state a claim under Bivens because no Bivens remedy is available against a -3- 1 federal agency. 2 C. 3 BIE contends that Ms. Young’s exclusive remedy for religious discrimination 4 is under Title VII and that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear a Title 5 VII claim because Ms. Young failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. (Doc. 11 6 at 5.) BIE cites to external evidence, (Doc. 12), in support of this argument. Absent 7 specific exceptions, however, the Court will not consider evidence or documents 8 beyond the complaint in the context of a 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss. See Hal Roach 9 Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir.1990) 10 (amended decision). When a party files affidavits and other evidence in support of a 11 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, the Court may convert the motion to a Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 12 motion for summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12. Here, because Ms. Young has not 13 brought any claims under Title VII, the Court need not consider the external evidence 14 to determine whether she exhausted her administrative remedies. Because it is 15 unnecessary to convert the Motion and because Ms. Young has not alleged any Title 16 VII claim, this Court will not address BIE’s contention about lack of subject matter 17 jurisdiction. Subject Matter Jurisdiction CONCLUSION 18 19 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11), 20 is GRANTED. 21 judgment accordingly. 22 The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate this action and enter Dated this 21st day of June, 2013. 23 24 25 26 27 28 -4-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?