United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [DOC.
7] AND MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
THOMAS J. WHELAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), and a motion for
sanction under Rule 11 filed by Defendants Michelle
O'Connor-Ratcliff, and T.J. Zane. Plaintiffs Christopher
Garnier and Kimberly Garnier oppose both motions.
Court decides the matters on the papers submitted and without
oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). For the reasons that
follow, the Court DENIES Defendants'
motions [Docs. 7, 12].
Michelle O'Connor-Ratcliff, and T.J. Zane are members of
the Poway Unified School District's (“PUSD”)
governing board. (Compl. [Doc. 1] ¶ 4.)
Plaintiffs allege that both Defendants use their Facebook
accounts, and O'Connor-Ratcliff also uses her Twitter
account, to disseminate information in their official
capacities about PUSD matters and to allow members of the
public to post comments. (Id. ¶ 10.)
Plaintiff Christopher Garnier posted comments criticizing
Defendants concerning PUSD matters, he was blocked by
Defendants from posting further comments on their Facebook
accounts, and from O'Connor-Ratcliff's Twitter
account. (Compl. ¶ 10.) Similarly, Plaintiff
Kimberly Garnier was blocked from posting comments on
O'Connor-Ratcliff's Facebook account after she posted
comments criticizing O'Connor-Ratcliff. (Id.)
October 30, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against
Defendants in their individual capacities, alleging they
violated Plaintiffs' federal and state constitutional
rights by blocking them from exercising their free-speech
and/or government-petitioning rights in a public forum.
(Compl. ¶ 10.) Defendants now seek to dismiss
the lawsuit arguing that Plaintiffs' claims are (1) time
barred, and (2) the Court lacks jurisdiction because
Defendants cannot be sued in their individual capacities for
violating Plaintiffs' free-speech/petitioning rights.
Defendants also seek sanctions against Plaintiffs'
MOTION TO DISMISS
Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(1)
12(b)(1) provides a procedural mechanism for a defendant to
challenge subject-matter jurisdiction. “A
jurisdictional challenge under Rule 12(b)(1) may be made
either on the face of the pleadings or by presenting
extrinsic evidence. Where jurisdiction is intertwined with
the merits, we must assume the truth of the allegations in a
complaint unless controverted by undisputed facts in the
record.” Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide,
Inc., 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal
quotation marks, brackets, ellipsis and citations omitted).
facial attack challenges the complaint on its face. Safe
Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
2004). But when the moving party raises a factual challenge
to jurisdiction, the court may look beyond the complaint and
consider extrinsic evidence, and “need not presume the
truthfulness of the plaintiff's allegations.”
See Id. Once the defendant has presented a factual
challenge under Rule 12(b)(1), the burden of proof shifts to
the plaintiff to “furnish affidavits or other evidence
necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing subject
matter jurisdiction.” Id.
Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)
Court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
legal sufficiency of the complaint. See Parks Sch. of
Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir.
1995). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law either
for lack of a cognizable legal theory or for insufficient
facts under a cognizable theory. Balisteri v. Pacifica
Police Dep't., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In
ruling on the motion, a court must “accept all material
allegations of ...