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Ybarra-Johnson v. State

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 12, 2014

Sara Ybarra-Johnson; Karla Johnson, Plaintiffs,
State of Arizona, et al., Defendants.


G. MURRAY SNOW, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendants Arizona Department of Economic Security ("AZDES"), Arizona Division of Children, Youth and Families ("DCYF"), Child Protective Services ("CPS") and the individual AZDES, DCYF, and CPS employees' Motion to Dismiss Non-Jural Entities and Individual State Defendants. (Doc. 84.) For the following reasons, the Motion is granted. Because all Defendants to this case have been dismissed, Plaintiffs' Demand for Production of Discovery and Documents Denied Since 2009 (Doc. 89) is denied as moot.


As the Court has detailed in previous orders ( see Doc. 82), this case arises from the termination of Plaintiff Sara Ybarra-Johnson's parental rights to three of her minor children. On May 16, 2011, the Superior Court of Maricopa County granted AZDES' Motion to terminate Ybarra-Johnson's parental rights as to I.E.J, born March 2008, and W.P, born October 2009. (Doc. 1 at 38-48.) On August 30, 2012, the Superior Court of Maricopa County granted ADES's Motion to terminate Ybarra-Johnson's parental rights as to J.J., born June 2011. ( Id. at 55.) Officials seized Plaintiffs' fourth and youngest child in February 2014.

Ybarra-Johnson and her mother, Plaintiff Karla Johnson, filed the present action on January 29, 2014. (Doc. 1.) Their Complaint seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for violations of their First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights, violations of the False Claims Act, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), the Intentional Interference with Parental Rights, and various federal criminal statutes. Plaintiffs seek damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and the referral of Defendants for criminal prosecution. Plaintiffs bring these claims against a variety of Defendants including the State of Arizona, AZDES, DCYF, CPS, various employees of those entities, the Phoenix Police Department, and various Phoenix Police Department Officers. ( Id. at 10-16.)

On July 29, 2014, the Court granted the State of Arizona, Phoenix Police Department, and individually named Phoenix Police Department Officers' Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 82.) Now AZDES, DCYF, CPS, and the individually named employees of those agencies (the "individual state defendants") move to dismiss. (Doc. 84.)


I. Legal Standard

Rule 12(b)(6) is designed to "test the legal sufficiency of a claim." Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action"; it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While "a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations... it must plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Clemens v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 534 F.3d 1017, 1022 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Plausibility requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Accordingly, a plaintiff must do more than employ "labels, " "conclusions, " or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id.

When analyzing a complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), "[a]ll allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Smith v. Jackson, 84 F.3d 1213, 1217 (9th Cir. 1996). However, legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not given a presumption of truthfulness, and "conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are not sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss." Pareto v. FDIC, 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998).

II. Analysis

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)

A complaint filed in federal court is to contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must set forth a set of facts that serves to put the defendants on notice as to the nature and basis of the claims. Failure to set forth claims in such a manner does not provide fair notice to the defendants as to the plaintiff's claims and the grounds upon which they rest. Leatherman v. Tarrant Cnty. Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993).

Here, Plaintiffs' Complaint includes some conclusory allegations, and the commingling of facts and claims has placed the onus on the Court to decipher which, if any, facts support which claims, as well as to determine whether Plaintiffs have sufficiently stated a right to any of the relief sought. However, a document filed pro se is "to be liberally construed" and "a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal citations omitted). As such, the Court declines to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety for Plaintiffs' failure to strictly adhere to the federal pleading requirements. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544. Nevertheless, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' occasional references in ...

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