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Cooper v. Hutcheson

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

October 4, 2016

WILLIAM T. COOPER, JAY R. HOLCOMB, JEFFERY D. JOHNSON, JEREMY S. STOELTING, and JAMES D. PATTON, Plaintiffs,
v.
SHERIFF CORY HUTCHESON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ABBIE CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This action is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. 6.)

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs William T. Cooper, Jay R. Holcomb, Jeffery D. Johnson, Jeremy St. Stoelting, and James D. Patton are all members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant Cory Hutcheson, Sheriff of Mississippi County, Missouri, submitted false paperwork to Securus, a company that provides communication services to law enforcement agencies, in order to unlawfully spy on the individual Plaintiffs.

         In Count I of the Complaint, Plaintiffs allege claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for unreasonable search and seizure. In Count II, Plaintiffs claim that Defendant's actions violated the Stored Communications Act, 28 U.S.C. §' 2701 et seq. (“SCA”). Lastly, in Count III, Plaintiffs allege an invasion of privacy claim under Missouri state law.

         Defendant moved to dismiss Count II for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted, on the basis that it is barred by the two-year statute of limitations set forth in the SCA, 18 U.S.C. § 2707(f). Plaintiffs have filed a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count II, in which they argue that the Motion should be denied because the statute of limitations does not begin to run under the SCA until a plaintiff first discovers or has reason to discover a violation.

         II. Legal Standard

         The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint so as to eliminate those actions “which are fatally flawed in their legal premises and deigned to fail, thereby sparing litigants the burden of unnecessary pretrial and trial activity.” Young City of St. Charles, 244 F.3d 623, 627 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27 (1989)). A complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it does not plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 560 (2007). A petitioner need not provide specific facts to support his allegations, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam), but “must include sufficient factual information to provide the grounds on which the claim rests, and to raise a right to relief above a speculative level.” Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 222 (2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56 & n. 3).

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must view the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the petitioner. Kottschade v. City of Rochester, 319 F.3d 1038, 1040 (8th Cir. 2003). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a claim must be facially plausible, meaning that the factual content. . .allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the respondent is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Cole v. Homier Dist. Co., Inc., 599 F.3d 856, 861 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). When determining the facial plausibility of a claim, the Court must “accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.” Id. (quoting Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005)).

         III. Discussion

         The SCA allows a private cause of action where “any person” injured by a violation of the SCA can show that the person violating the Act acted with a “knowing or intentional state of mind[.]” 18 U.S.C. § 2707(a). The SCA provides any such civil action “may not be commenced later than two years after the date upon which the claimant first discovered or had a reasonable opportunity to discover the violation.” 18 U.S.C. § 2707(f).

         In the Complaint, Plaintiffs allege the following dates relevant to Count II:

20. On July 22, 2014 Defendant submitted false paperwork to Securus in order to “ping” the cell phone of Plaintiff Jay R. Holcomb.
21. On August 4, 2014, Defendant submitted false paperwork to Securus in order to “ping” the cell phone of former ...

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