Young v. City of Kansas City, Missouri et al
ORDER granting 19 Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. Signed on 11/29/11 by District Judge Greg Kays. (Francis, Alexandra) Modified on 11/29/2011 - mailed to pltf (Francis, Alexandra).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
WILLIAM C. YOUNG,
CITY OF KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI,
Case No. 4:11-CV-00095-W-DGK
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION
FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
This case arises from a traffic citation issued to Plaintiff William C. Young based on
traffic camera footage of Plaintiff running a red light at the intersection of North Oak Trafficway
and Vivion Road. Plaintiff alleges that the process of issuing tickets based on traffic cameras
violates his due process right to be confronted by his accusers and his 5th and 14th Amendment
right to privacy (Doc 8-1). As redress, Plaintiff’s pro se Amended Complaint, filed without
leave of the Court, requests that for every camera installed at traffic intersections, the city install
a camera in a dangerous Kansas City neighborhood with a high crime rate.
Now pending before the Court is Defendants City of Kansas City, Missouri and Mayor
Sly James’s1 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) (Doc. 19).
The Court has reviewed this Motion in conjunction with Plaintiff’s Response (Docs 19, 21). For
the reasons discussed below, Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED.
When this action was filed, Plaintiff listed Mayor Mark Funkhouser as a Defendant. Although Plaintiff did not
specify, the Court assumes Mayor Funkhouser was sued in his official capacity. As Funkhouser is no longer Mayor
of Kansas City, Mayor Sly James has been substituted as a Defendant pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
“A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is subject to the same standard
as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488
(8th Cir. 1990). In order to survive a 12(b)(6) motion, “a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). A
complaint is plausible if its “factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1940. The court
must accept well-pleaded facts as true, however, the court need not accept unsupported legal
conclusions or “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action.” Id.at 1949. “A
grant of judgment on the pleadings is appropriate ‘where no material issue of fact remains to be
resolved and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” Poehl v. Countrywide
Home Loans, Inc., 528 F.3d 1093, 1096 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting Faibisch v. Univ. of Minn., 304
F.3d 797, 803 (8th Cir. 2002)).
A court must construe complaints from pro se plaintiffs liberally. Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976). However, pro se litigants must still “allege sufficient facts to support the
claims advanced.” Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). Courts should not supply
additional facts or construct legal theories based on facts that the plaintiff has not pled. Id.
(quoting Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989)). Pro se complaints, “however
inartfully pleaded,” can be dismissed only if it appears “beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove
no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519 (1972) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)).
A. Plaintiff lacks standing to pursue his claims.
Defendant asserts that Plaintiff lacks standing to pursue a claim because Plaintiff makes
no allegations regarding alleged damages. To establish standing, the party invoking federal
jurisdiction must establish: (1) that it suffered injury to a legally protected concrete and
particularized interest; (2) that there is a “casual connection between the injury and the conduct
complained of;” and (3) that it is “likely . . . that the injury will be redressed by a favorable
decision.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992) (quoting Simon v. E. Ky.
Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 41-42, 38, 43 (1976)).
Here, Plaintiff has made no showing that he suffered any injury. The only injury the
Court can conceive—Plaintiff’s traffic citation—was dismissed by the City after Plaintiff filed an
appeal of the municipal court violation (Doc. 19-1 at 4). In addition, the Court fails to see how
the remedy that Plaintiff seeks—traffic camera installation in dangerous neighborhoods—would
redress this injury. Thus, plaintiff fails to allege facts establishing the he has suffered injury or
that the injury would be redressed by a favorable decision, and the complaint must be dismissed.
B. Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
In addition to lacking standing, Plaintiff fails to allege facts sufficient to sustain a claim.
Plaintiff argues that red light cameras violate his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to
privacy. Plaintiff also argues that under due process of the law, “plaintiff has a right to be
confronted by accusers, and a photo camera is not a person no[r] an accuser” (Doc. 8 at 1).
Plaintiff seeks a Court order that Defendants install surveillance cameras in “dangerous areas of
the city.” These generalized conclusions, however, fail to assert any factual allegations against
Defendants James or the City suggesting Defendants violated Plaintiff’s rights. Nor do they
provide Defendants any clear basis upon which to respond. In addition, it is unclear to the Court
how Plaintiff’s request for relief has any relation to Plaintiff’s red light traffic violation.
Although Plaintiff alleges that traffic “citation by a spy camera is a violation and
infringement” upon his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to privacy, Plaintiff alleges no
facts to support this contention. Even if Plaintiff had alleged facts sufficient to show that
Defendants violated his right to privacy, there is no legal basis to support his claim. While the
Supreme Court has read the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of liberty as creating broad
rights to privacy in many areas including child rearing, procreation, and termination of medical
treatment, it has never held that driving is a protected area. See Cruzan v. Mo. Dept. of Health,
497 U.S. 261 (1990); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262
U.S. 390 (1923).
In addition, while courts have found that government surveillance may give rise to a
violation under the Fourth Amendment, they have consistently found that individuals have a
“diminished expectation of privacy in an automobile.” United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276,
281-82 (1983). As the Court noted in Cardwell v. Lewis, “One has a lesser expectation of
privacy in a motor vehicle because its function is transportation and it seldom serves as one’s
residence or as the repository of personal effects. A car has little capacity for escaping public
scrutiny. It travels public thoroughfares where both its occupants and its contents are in plain
view.” 417 U.S. 583, 590 (1974). Accordingly, there is no legal basis for Plaintiff’s assertion
that red light traffic cameras violate his Fourth, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendment rights to
privacy, and Plaintiff’s claim must be dismissed.
The Court also considers Plaintiff’s challenge to the constitutionality of the City’s
implementation and use of camera-enforced traffic regulations on due process grounds. Like his
privacy claims, Plaintiff fails to allege facts showing that Defendants violated his due process
rights. In addition, courts have consistently held that camera-enforced traffic control devices are
not violative of due process. See Agomo v. Fenty, 916 A.2d 181 (D.C. 2007); McNeill v. Town of
Paradise Valley, 44 Fed. Appx. 871, 871 (9th Cir. 2002) (holding that Plaintiff’s challenge of the
traffic citation in municipal court gave him “all the process he was due”). In Missouri, courts
have held that the city’s reasonable regulation of traffic is a valid exercise of the state’s police
power. City of St. Louis v. Cook, 221 S.W.2d 468, 469 (Mo. 1949). Therefore, as Plaintiff has
failed to allege facts sufficient to state a claim or a legal basis for liability, Plaintiff’s claims must
Finally, Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the doctrines of absolute
immunity, qualified immunity, and official immunity. Because the Court has already determined
that Plaintiff’s claims must be dismissed for lack of standing and failure to state a claim, it need
not reach these issues.
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Accordingly, Defendants are entitled to a judgment on the pleadings. Defendants’ Motion is
GRANTED. Plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
IT IS SO ORDERED
Dated: November 29, 2011
/s/ Greg Kays
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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