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Reale v. Shea

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 25, 2014

DEBRA REALE individually; NICHOLAS REALE; and ALAINA REALE, a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
TIMOTHY SHEA, in his official and individual capacities; KARL BEAVERS, in his official and individual capacities; CLARK COUNTY DEPUTY MARSHALS ASSOCIATION; LAS VEGAS JUSTICE COURT; DIANA SULLIVAN in her official and individual capacities; STEPHANIE WESTBAY, in her official and individual capacities; and CLARK COUNTY, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS (DKT. ##16, 19, 29, 32)

ANDREW P. GORDON, District Judge.

Judicial Deputy Marshal Louis "Ziggy" Reale committed suicide on March 21, 2014. (Dkt. #6 at 4.) His widow and children filed this lawsuit alleging violations of the National Labor Relations Act, state law causes of action, and claims based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs cannot properly assert their federal labor law claims against these Defendants; thus, those claims must be dismissed. Moreover, Plaintiffs have not properly grounded their § 1983 claims in violations of constitutional rights. Therefore, those claims, too, must be dismissed.

BACKGROUND[1]

Ziggy began working at the Clark County Regional Justice Center ("RJC") as a Deputy Administrative Marshal in 2007. (Dkt. #22 at 8.) In 2008, he became Judicial Deputy Marshal to Judge Diana Sullivan in the Las Vegas Justice Court. ( Id. ) On September 26, 2011, the Eighth Judicial District Court and the Clark County Deputy Marshals Association ("CCDMA") entered into a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") under which the parties agreed to work out a system defining employment conditions and orderly disposition of worker grievances. ( Id. at 5.) However, the judges in the Eighth Judicial District Court and the Las Vegas Justice Court refused to enter into the MOU, relying on exemptions under NRS § 3.310 and NRS § 3.353. ( Id. at 6.) Both statutes provide that a judge may appoint a Judicial Deputy Marshal, and that marshal will serve at the pleasure of the appointing judge. CCDMA filed a petition for a writ of quo warranto in an attempt to circumvent the judges' reliance on the statutory exemptions, which the Nevada Supreme Court ultimately denied. State of Nevada v. Grierson, et al., Case No. 62225 (Mar. 21, 2014).

Defendants Karl Beavers and Timothy Shea were Supervising Marshals. ( Id. at 8.) During the period of negotiations leading to the MOU and until March of 2014, Beavers and Shea allegedly abused their authority in an effort to coerce Ziggy and other Judicial Deputy Marshals into engaging in workplace practices aimed at encouraging the judges to adopt the MOU. ( Id. at 6.) Some of those coercive efforts included threatening the Judicial Deputy Marshals with job termination and criminal sanctions. ( Id. ) Plaintiffs contend that Beavers' and Shea's coercive tactics created a hostile work environment causing Ziggy to experience panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. ( Id. at 9.)

On February 28, 2014, Ziggy took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act because the anxiety he was feeling at work had become too much for him. ( Id. ) Rather than return to work, Ziggy committed suicide on March 21, 2014. ( Id. ) Plaintiffs assert claims for wrongful death, violations of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), several state law causes of action, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. #6.) Defendants moved to dismiss, asserting that these claims are not properly pleaded. (Dkt. ##16, 19.)

LEGAL STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL UNDER FED R. CIV. P 12(b)(6)

A complaint must provide "[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands "more than labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (internal citation omitted).

In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering a motion to dismiss. First, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 1950. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 1949. Second, the Court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950. A claim is facially plausible when the complaint alleges facts that allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the Defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 1949. Where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has "alleged-but not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). When the claims in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, the complaint must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

"Generally, a district court may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.... However, material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint may be considered on a motion to dismiss." Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n. 19 (9th Cir.1990) (citations omitted). Similarly, "documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss" without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir.1994).

Moreover, Rule 15 requires district courts to "freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 15(a)(2); Sonoma County Association of Retired Employees v. Sonoma County, 708 F.3d 1109, 1117 (9th Cir. 2013). The Ninth Circuit has long recognized that this policy is "to be applied with extreme liberality." Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted). In the seminal leave-to-amend case of Forman v. Davis, the United States Supreme Court explained that "[i]f the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, [the Plaintiff] ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits." 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). A district court abuses its discretion by dismissing a complaint without previously granting leave to amend or determining that the allegations, if adequately pleaded, could survive a motion to dismiss. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000); Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d 494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995).

Still, amendment is not automatic. The court has discretion to deny amendment. See Forman, 371 U.S. at 182. Courts consider five factors when determining whether to grant leave: (1) bad faith, (2) undue delay, (3) prejudice to the opposing party, (4) futility of amendment, and (5) whether the plaintiff has previously amended the complaint. Johnson v. Buckley, 356 F.3d 1067, 1077 (9th Cir. 2004). Any of the first four factors can serve as a basis for denying leave to amend. Chudacoff v. University Medical Center of So. Nev., 649 F.3d 1143, 1152 (9th Cir. 2011).

DISCUSSION

I. The National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. §§ 401-531 ...


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