United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
A. KIMBALL United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on Defendants Salt Lake City
Corporation, Salt Lake City Department of Airports, and Salt
Lake City Airport Police's Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. A hearing on the
matter was held on February 8, 2017. At the hearing,
Plaintiff was represented by Kent Morgan. Defendants were
represented by S. Spencer Brown. Before the hearing, the
court carefully considered the memoranda and other materials
submitted by the parties. Since taking the matter under
advisement, the court has further considered the law and
facts relating to the matter. Now being fully advised, the
court renders the following Memorandum Decision and Order.
Laura Moore alleges that Salt Lake City Airport Police
officers, who are employees of Defendants Salt Lake City
Corporation, Salt Lake City Department of Airports, and Salt
Lake City Airport Police (collectively “SLCC”),
violated her civil rights by refusing to let her travel with
her two children.
Moore divorced Tyler Moore on November 4, 2009. On December
2, 2010, the court in the divorce proceeding, upon a motion
from Mr. Moore, entered an Order for Enforcement of Divorce
Decree and Amended Divorce Decree, which allowed for peace
officer enforcement of the decrees. On May 31, 2013, the
court in the divorce proceeding granted another petition to
modify the divorce decree. The May 31, 2013, modification
granted sole physical and legal custody of Tyler Moore and
Ms. Moore's two minor children to Tyler Moore. The order
allowed for parent time for Ms. Moore as set forth in Utah
Code Ann. § 30-3-35 and provided for peace officer
enforcement of the decree. The order also required Ms. Moore
to complete parenting classes or programs and allowed Tyler
and Ms. Moore to agree to parent-time arrangements after Ms.
Moore completed the training, which they did through a
Stipulation on November 10, 2014.
December 29, 2014, Ms. Moore attempted to travel with her
minor children from the Salt Lake City International Airport
to Hawaii. On that day, Tyler Moore appeared at the airport
with the most recent divorce decree and the stipulated
agreement and stated that Ms. Moore was attempting to travel
out of state with his minor children in violation of the
court's order. Tyler Moore asked a Salt Lake City Airport
Police officer to enforce the court's order. The officer
reviewed the order and the applicable statutes alone and
reviewed them again with his sergeant, who arrived shortly
thereafter. Tyler Moore and the officers apparently
interpreted the order and applicable statutes as requiring
Ms. Moore to receive permission from Tyler Moore before
taking the children on extended vacations. The two officers
contacted Ms. Moore at a departure gate and informed her that
she would not be allowed to fly with her children. She was
compliant and left the secure area of the airport. Ms. Moore
was not arrested during this incident.
the incident, David Maddox, Ms. Moore's attorney in her
divorce case, contacted the Salt Lake City Airport Police to
explain to them that Ms. Moore's ex-husband was notified
well in advance of Ms. Moore's visitation dates and of
her plans to take the children to Hawaii. The officer who
took the call explained to Mr. Maddox that he would not
discuss the case over the phone and that Mr. Maddox could
obtain a copy of the report through the proper channels.
March 31, 2016, Ms. Moore filed a Complaint in this court
against SLCC alleging a violation of her constitutional right
to interstate travel; a failure to supervise or train the
Salt Lake City Airport Police officers; and a violation of
the due process clause of the Utah Constitution. On August
20, 2016, SLCC filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment asking the court to
dismiss all of Ms. Moore's claims for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.
Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment, SLCC argues that Ms. Moore fails to allege facts to
establish any violation of her civil rights or to provide
plausible grounds for government entity liability against
SLCC. Ms. Moore argues that the Salt Lake City Airport Police
officers prevented Ms. Moore from boarding an airplane in
violation of her constitutional right to interstate travel
without any justification and that they made many
unreasonable and unjustified errors, which manifests a
fundamental lack of training of the officers by SLCC. The
court will address each of these arguments.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to
dismiss an action for “failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must
“contain enough factual allegations ‘to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Smith v. Millett, No. 2:07-CV-723-TS, 2009 WL
3181996, at *6 (D. Utah Sept. 28, 2009) (quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The
Tenth Circuit has interpreted Twombly to mean that
“[t]he complaint must plead sufficient facts, taken as
true, to provide ‘plausible grounds' that discovery
will reveal evidence to support the plaintiff's
allegations.” Shero v. City of Grove, 510 F.3d
1196, 1200 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). Moreover, “[f]actual allegations in a
complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level, ” and “the complaint must give
the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a
reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for his
claim.” Smith, 2009 WL 3181996, at *6
(internal quotations and citations omitted). “The
requirement of plausibility serves not only to weed out
claims that do not (in the absence of additional allegations)
have a reasonable prospect of success, but also to inform the
defendants of the actual grounds of the claim against
them.” Id. (internal quotations and citations
omitted). “[T]hreadbare recitals of a cause of
action's elements, supported by mere conclusory
statements, ” are therefore insufficient to withstand a
motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). Generally, a dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim is generally with prejudice.
Smith, 2009 WL 3181996, at *6 (citing Sheldon v.
Vermonty, 269 F.3d 1202, 1207 (10th Cir. 2001)).
also requires the court to treat a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6) as a motion for summary judgment “[i]f .
. . matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not
excluded by the court.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). To the
extent the court construes the motion as a motion for summary
judgment, summary judgment “should be rendered if the
pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file,
and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issues as to
any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). When the
non-moving party bears the burden of proof, summary judgment
is warranted by demonstration of an absence of facts to
support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When qualified
immunity is involved, “a defendant asserts a qualified
immunity defense” then “the burden shifts to the
plaintiff, who must meet a ‘heavy two-part
burden.'” Chavez v. Poleate, No.
2:04-CV-1104-TC, 2007 WL 1795763, at *3 (D. Utah June 20,
2007) (quoting Medina v. Cram, 252 F.3d 1124, 1128
(10th Cir. 2001)). The plaintiff first must establish that
“the officer's conduct violated a constitutional
right, ” and then the plaintiff must show that
“the right was clearly established.” Id.
(quoting Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001)).
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