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Boxum-Debolt v. Office of The District Attorney

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 17, 2014

KRYSTAL L. BOXUM-DEBOLT, et al., Plaintiffs,


KATHRYN H. VRATIL, District Judge.

Krystal L. Boxum-Debolt and Lisa Anne Moore bring suit against the Office of the District Attorney, 3rd Judicial District of Kansas ("DA's Office"); Chadwick J. Taylor, District Attorney for the 3rd Judicial District of the State of Kansas, in his official and individual capacities; Shawnee County, Kansas; and County Commissioners Ted Ensley, Mary M. Thomas and Shelly Buhler in their official and individual capacities. See Complaint (Doc. #1) filed October 1, 2012. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., plaintiffs assert claims for gender discrimination (Count I), associational discrimination (Count II) and retaliation (Count III). Under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, plaintiffs claim that defendants violated their constitutional rights to substantive and procedural due process, freedom of speech and equal protection (Count IV) and conspired to violate those rights (Count V). Under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., plaintiffs claim that defendants willfully denied overtime wages (Count VI).

On September 30, 2013, the Court sustained in part defendants' motions to dismiss. See Memorandum And Order (Doc. #24). Specifically, the Court dismissed (1) all claims against the DA's Office; (2) claims under Section 1983, Section 1985 and the FLSA against Taylor in his official capacity; (3) claims under Section 1983 against Taylor in his individual capacity; and

(4) claims under Title VII, Section 1983 and Section 1985 against Shawnee County and the commissioners in their official and individual capacities.[1] After the Court's rulings, the following claims remained in the case: (1) Title VII claims against Taylor in his official capacity (Counts I-III);

(2) FLSA claims against Taylor in his individual capacity (Count VI); and (3) FLSA claims against Shawnee County and the commissioners in their official and individual capacities (Count VI). This matter comes before the Court on the Motion Of Defendant Taylor To Reconsider ("Motion To Reconsider") (Doc. #25) filed October 3, 2013. Defendant asserts that the Court should have dismissed the FLSA claim against him in his individual capacity based on qualified immunity. For reasons stated below, the Court overrules defendant's motion.

I. Legal Standards

A. Motion To Reconsider

A motion to reconsider must be based on (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) newly available evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice. See Coffeyville Res. Ref. & Mktg., LLC v. Liberty, 748 F.Supp.2d 1261, 1264 & n.2 (D. Kan. 2010); see also D. Kan. R. 7.3(b); Comeau v. Rupp, 810 F.Supp. 1172, 1174-75 (D. Kan. 1992). It is not appropriate to revisit issues already addressed or to advance argument that a party could have raised in prior briefing. See, e.g., Servants of Paraclete v. Does, 204 F.3d 1005, 1012 (10th Cir. 2000) (addressing motion brought under Rule 59(b)). A motion to reconsider is not a second opportunity for the losing party to make his strongest case, to rehash arguments or to dress up arguments that previously failed. Brown v. Presbyterian Healthcare Servs., 101 F.3d 1324, 1332 (10th Cir. 1996); Resolution Trust Corp. v. Greif, 906 F.Supp. 1446, 1456 (D. Kan. 1995); Voelkel v. Gen. Motors Corp., 846 F.Supp. 1482, 1483 (D. Kan. 1994). A party's failure to present his strongest case in the first instance does not entitle him to a second chance through a motion to reconsider. Cline v. S. Star Cent. Gas Pipeline, Inc., 370 F.Supp.2d 1130, 1132 (D. Kan. 2005). The court has discretion whether to grant a motion to reconsider.

B. Qualified Immunity

Qualified immunity shields government officials from liability for discretionary functions "if their conduct does not violate clearly established rights of which a reasonable government official would have known." Perez v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte Cnty./Kan. City, Kan., 432 F.3d 1163, 1165 (10th Cir. 2005). Although summary judgment provides the typical vehicle for asserting qualified immunity, defendant may also raise the defense in a motion to dismiss. See Peterson v. Jensen, 371 F.3d 1199, 1201 (10th Cir. 2004). Asserting the defense in this fashion, however, subjects defendant to a more challenging standard of review than would apply on summary judgment. See id. (citing Lone Star Indus., Inc. v. Horman Family Trust, 960 F.2d 917, 920 (10th Cir. 1992) (Rule 12(b)(6) motion viewed with disfavor and rarely granted)).

In evaluating qualified immunity in the context of a motion to dismiss, the Court determines whether plaintiffs have alleged that defendant deprived them of constitutional rights and whether those rights were clearly established at that time. See id. at 1202 (citing Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001)). Plaintiffs bear the burden to allege facts sufficient to allow the Court to make these determinations. See id. at 1202-03; see also Perez, 432 F.3d at 1165. If plaintiffs sufficiently allege the deprivation of a clearly established right, qualified immunity will not protect defendant. A valid qualified immunity defense relieves defendant of individual liability. See Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). II. Factual Background

In his motion to dismiss, defendant argued as follows:[2] "The Complaint fails to articulate any potential theory of liability against District Attorney Taylor in either his official capacity or his personal capacity, [and dismissal] is appropriate for any or all of the following reasons.... Qualified Immunity protects Chadwick Taylor from personal liability." Motion Of Defendants Taylor And DA's Office To Dismiss ("Motion To Dismiss") (Doc. #11) filed on November 13, 2012 at 2. The motion also includes the following heading: "Qualified Immunity Protects Chadwick Taylor From Personal Liability, " and the following text:

Plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing that the allegations qualify as a violation of clearly established federal rights, absent proof of which there can be no recovery of money damages from an individual defendant. See Rozek v. Topolnicki, 865 F.2d 1154 (10th Cir. 1989). None of the rights asserted by these plaintiffs qualifies as a clearly established statutory or constitutional right that has been infringed by the District Attorney. He has no personal liability for novel claims that have never previously been recognized. Qualified immunity should apply in this case as it did in Allen v. Kline, 507 F.Supp.2d 1150, 1163 (D. Kan. 2007). No published decisions more recent than the Allen v. Kline case have established the wrongfulness of the conduct described in the complaint. State actors are personally liable for violation of constitutional rights only where they are on constructive notice that their actions are unlawful. For a government official's conduct to violate clearly established law, so that the official is not entitled to qualified immunity from ...

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