United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division
ORDER AND OPINION DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Defendants Northwest Missouri State University
(“NWMSU”), Clarence Green, and Anthony
Williams’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
Claim. Doc. #18. For the following reasons, Defendants’
motion is denied.
2016, Plaintiffs T.S.H. and H.R.J., who were juveniles at the
time, participated in a high school football camp held on
NWMSU’s campus. Doc. #12, ¶¶ 9-10. Plaintiffs
paid a fee to NWMSU to participate in the camp. Id.
¶ 11. NWMSU’s football coaching staff conducted
the camp and provided instruction to participants.
Id. ¶ 12. NWMSU furnished housing for
participants in one of its dormitories. Id. ¶
same time the high school football camp was held, NWMSU
hosted a high school cheerleading camp. Id. ¶
14. NWMSU provided housing to the cheerleading camp
participants in another dormitory. Id. ¶ 15. On
June 19, 2016, a twenty-five-year-old female cheerleading
coach (“complainant”), who was not an NWMSU
employee or student, reported an incident that occurred the
previous evening to NWMSU’s residence assistants.
Id. ¶¶ 16-17. Because her dormitory room
did not have window coverings, the complainant changed her
clothes near the wall between the windows where she thought
no one could see her. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. While
undressing, the complainant saw several individuals looking
at her from windows in another dormitory. Id.
¶¶ 21-23. She thought she saw a phone, but it is
unclear if she saw anyone take a photo. Id. ¶
NWMSU residence assistants provided the information to
Defendant Anthony Williams, an NWMSU police officer, who, in
turn, gave the information to Defendant Clarence Green, NWMSU
police chief. Id. ¶¶ 5, 29-30. Williams
met with the complainant, who said she did not want to
prosecute. Id. ¶ 31. Williams filled out an
Offense Report, indicating the incident was a “juvenile
offense” and a “possible Title IX
incident.” Id. ¶¶ 35-36. Green and
Williams began an investigation into the incident.
Id. ¶ 38. Williams theorized the alleged
offenders occupied two possible dormitory rooms, and he
and/or Green obtained the names of the seven juveniles
assigned to the rooms. Id. ¶¶ 43, 44.
to Plaintiffs, Williams directed the juveniles’ high
school football coach to gather the players in one room and
question them until someone confessed to photographing the
complainant. Id. ¶¶ 44-45, 52-53. The
coach assembled the players, including Plaintiffs, in one
room and told them that they were being investigated by NWMSU
police for the commission of an alleged crime. Id.
¶¶ 54-56. Plaintiffs and the other juveniles were
asked to reveal photographs stored on their cell phones; they
complied. Id. ¶¶ 57-58. The juveniles were
questioned for hours, and were told if someone confessed, the
teammates could remain at the camp. Id. ¶¶
56, 59, 61. No. one confessed, and the juveniles were
expelled from the camp. Id. ¶ 63. In the
Offense Report, Williams indicated that, based on the
investigation, no one was facing criminal charges.
Id. ¶ 64. The Offense Report listed the
juveniles’ names and was made publicly available.
Id. ¶ 65.
March 2019, Plaintiffs T.S.H. and M.J., as next friend of
minor H.R.J., filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Nodaway
County against NWMSU, Green, and Williams. Doc. #1-1, at
3-13. In May 2019, Defendants removed the matter
to this Court. Doc. #1. Defendants moved to dismiss the
complaint, and Plaintiffs amended their complaint. Docs. #3,
12. Plaintiffs allege claims against Green and Williams in
their individual capacities for violating 42 U.S.C. §
1983 (Count I), claims against Green and Williams for civil
rights conspiracy (Count II), a claim against NWMSU for
violating 42 U.S.C. §1983 (Count III), and a breach of
contract claim against NWMSU (Count IV). Defendants move to
dismiss all claims.
move to dismiss Counts I, II, and IV pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing
Plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require "a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief." Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "Specific facts are not
necessary; the statement need only 'give the defendant
fair notice of what the… claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests.'" Id. (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Court
"must accept as true…the complaint's factual
allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the
Plaintiff.” Stodghill v. Wellston Sch.
Dist., 512 F.3d 472, 476 (8th Cir. 2008).
To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The
plausibility standard is not akin to a probability
requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility
that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint
pleads facts that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin
by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than
conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.
While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a
complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.
When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court
should assume their veracity and then determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible if it
allows a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the alleged conduct. See Horras v. Am. Capital
Strategies, Ltd., 729 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2013).
Count III, Defendants argue NWMSU is entitled to immunity
from suit. Doc. #19, at 10-11. Sovereign immunity is a
jurisdictional, threshold matter properly addressed under
Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See Lors v. Dean, 746 F.3d 857, 861 (8th Cir. 2014);
Whitmire v. Kan. City, Mo. Bd. of Police
Comm’rs, No. 16-1020-FJG, 2018 WL 4134696, at *2
(W.D. Mo. Aug. 29, 2018) (citations omitted). When
considering a facial challenge to jurisdiction, the Court
“restricts itself to the face of the pleadings, and the
non-moving party receives the same protections as it would
defending against a motion brought under Rule
12(b)(6).” Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc., 833 F.3d
903, 908 (8th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). A complaint
should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter