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Greisen v. Hanken

United States District Court, D. Oregon

January 5, 2015

DOUG GREISEN, an individual, Plaintiff,
JON HANKEN, an individual, JOHN DOES 1-5, and CITY OF SCAPPOOSE, an Oregon municipality, Defendants.

John D. Ostrander and William A. Drew, ELLIOTT, OSTRANDER & PRESTON, P.C., Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

Karen M. Vickers and Blake H. Fry, MERSEREAU SHANNON L.L.P., Of Attorneys for Defendants.


MICHAEL H. SIMON, District Judge.

Doug Greisen ("Mr. Greisen") brings this suit against Jon Hanken, the former city manager for the City of Scappoose ("Mr. Hanken"); John Does 1-5, individuals alleged to have acted in concert with Mr. Hanken, in their official and personal capacities ("Doe Defendants"); and the City of Scappoose (the "City"), an Oregon municipality that is Mr. Greisen's former employer (collectively, "Defendants"). The complaint alleges seven statutory and common-law claims. The first five claims are asserted against all Defendants, the sixth is alleged only against the City, and the seventh is raised only against Mr. Hanken. Defendants move to dismiss the first through fifth claims as to Mr. Hanken only and the seventh claim entirely, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ("Rule 12(b)(6)").


A. Motion to Dismiss, Failure to State a Claim

In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court's review is limited to the contents of the complaint. Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754 (9th Cir. 1994). A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim may be granted only when there is no cognizable legal theory to support the claim or when the complaint lacks sufficient factual allegations to state a facially plausible claim for relief. Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded material facts alleged in the complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Wilson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 668 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2012); Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010).

To be entitled to a presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint "may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively." Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). All reasonable inferences from the factual allegations must be drawn in favor of the plaintiff. Newcal Indus. v. Ikon Office Solution, 513 F.3d 1038, 1043 n.2 (9th Cir. 2008). The court need not, however, credit the plaintiff's legal conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

A complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to "plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation." Starr, 652 F.3d at 1216. "A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

"A complaint should not be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Clegg, 18 F.3d at 754. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is generally without prejudice, and dismissal without leave to amend is proper only in "extraordinary" cases. Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir. 2003).

B. Federal Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may exercise only that power authorized by the Constitution and federal statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The burden of establishing jurisdiction rests upon the party asserting it. Id . See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) ("A pleading... must contain: (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction").

Federal courts are obliged to inquire sua sponte "whenever a doubt arises as to the existence of federal jurisdiction." Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 278 (1977). See also Bernhardt v. Cnty. of L.A., 279 F.3d 862, 868 (9th Cir. 2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) ("If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action."). A court may raise the question of subject-matter jurisdiction at any time during the pendency of the action. Snell v. Cleveland, Inc., 316 F.3d 822, 826 (9th Cir. 2002). A court may inquire about subject-matter jurisdiction, whether the parties raise the issue or not. United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell ...

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