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Dahlquist v. City of Wichita

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 12, 2019

CITY OF WICHITA, et al., Defendants.


          Daniel D. Crabtree United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Tiffany Dahlquist brings this employment discrimination action against the City of Wichita, City Manager Robert Layton, Chief of Police for the Wichita Police Department (“WPD”) Gordon Ramsey, and WPD Detective Lance Oldridge. In her First Amended Complaint (Doc. 13), plaintiff asserts sex discrimination and harassment claims under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17, against the City of Wichita, and various claims under Kansas state law against all defendants.

         This matter is before the court on defendants' Motions to Dismiss (Docs. 16 & 18) and plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 47). On February 1, 2019, plaintiff filed a two-page motion seeking leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. Doc. 47. Plaintiff's motion provides no substantive argument for why the court should grant her leave to file her proposed pleading. On February 14 and 15, 2019, defendants timely filed Responses opposing plaintiff's Motion for Leave. Docs. 48 & 49. Plaintiff never has filed a Reply. And her time for doing so has expired. See D. Kan. Rule 6.1(d)(1) (requiring parties to file and serve Replies within 14 days of Response).

         For reasons explained below, the court denies plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 47). The court concludes that plaintiffs proposed Second Amended Complaint fails to state plausible Title VII claims. The court thus finds that plaintiffs proposed amendments-at least as they would affect her federal claims-are futile. So, for reasons explained below, the court denies plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint to the extent it seeks to amend her federal Title VII claims. The court declines to decide the portion of plaintiff s Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint seeking to amend her state law claims. And the court denies this portion of plaintiff s motion without prejudice.

         Also, the court concludes that plaintiffs First Amended Complaint-the operative Complaint, currently-fails to state viable Title VII claims. Thus, the court reaches the following decisions:

• The court grants City of Wichita, Robert Layton, and Gordon Ramsey's Motion to Dismiss Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 18) in part and denies it in part. The court dismisses plaintiffs federal Title VII claims against defendant City of Wichita under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because they fail to state a plausible claim for relief. The court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs remaining state law claims, and thus dismisses the state law claims asserted against defendants City of Wichita, Robert Layton, and Gordon Ramsey without prejudice.
• The court denies defendant Lance Oldridge's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16) without prejudice. Plaintiff asserts only state law claims against defendant Oldridge, and the court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those claims. The court thus dismisses plaintiffs state law claims against defendant Oldridge without prejudice.

         The court explains how it reaches these rulings, below.

         I. Background

         The following facts come from plaintiff's First Amended Complaint-the operative Complaint in the case. Doc. 13. Plaintiff asserts these same factual allegations in her proposed Second Amended Complaint. Doc. 47-1.

         From January 18, 2011, to February 13, 2017, plaintiff worked for the WPD as a Police Officer for Patrol. The majority of the WPD's law enforcement officers are male.

         On September 11, 2016, the WPD received a traffic report from a driver who alleged that plaintiff had struck the other driver's vehicle while plaintiff was driving her personal vehicle and had failed to stop. The driver reported plaintiff's license plate number to WPD officers as the license assigned to the vehicle that struck her. A WPD officer contacted plaintiff (who was off-duty), and asked her to come to the police station. Plaintiff complied with the request. When plaintiff arrived at the police station, the WPD officer told plaintiff that a driver had identified her vehicle as one that had struck the driver's vehicle earlier in the day. Plaintiff denied striking another vehicle, and told the officer she would have stopped if she had hit another vehicle.

         Plaintiff allowed the WPD officer to inspect her vehicle. Plaintiff's vehicle had no damage suggesting it had struck another vehicle. Nevertheless, the WPD officer asked plaintiff to complete a Motor Vehicle Accident Report (“MVAR”). Plaintiff refused to fill out the MVAR because, she believed, she had not had an accident. Later, the Fraternal Order of Police (“FOP”) advised plaintiff that she should fill out the MVAR. Plaintiff reluctantly filled out the MVAR, reporting that she was informed she hit another vehicle but neither vehicle had any damage.

         On September 12, 2016, the WPD assigned the matter to Detective Mike Amy for criminal investigation. Also, plaintiff learned that the WPD had initiated an internal investigation into the matter. Plaintiff asserts that Detective Amy conducted an aggressive criminal investigation. Among other things, Detective Amy interviewed employees of a restaurant that plaintiff patronized on September 11, 2016, and asked them about plaintiff's alcohol consumption at the restaurant. He interviewed the driver who made the traffic report, inspected her car, and showed her a photo lineup. He subjected plaintiff's vehicle to more inspection. And, Detective Amy and Detective Oldridge secured surveillance video and a copy of a receipt from a liquor store showing that plaintiff had purchased alcohol.

         On September 15, 2016, Detective Oldridge called plaintiff and asked her to meet with him. When she arrived at the meeting, Detective Oldridge gave plaintiff a document titled Official Notification of Administrative Internal Investigation and informed her of her Garrity rights.[1] Plaintiff asked a FOP representative to attend the meeting with her. The FOP representative told Detective Oldridge that it was highly unusual to commence an internal investigation before a criminal investigation's conclusion. Detective Oldridge responded that he needed to initiate the internal investigation that day because plaintiff was scheduled to leave town the next weekend.

         On September 28, 2016, plaintiff learned that Detective Amy had presented the results of the criminal investigation to the district attorney. The district attorney declined to prosecute plaintiff because there wasn't sufficient evidence.

         On October 12, 2016, Detective Oldridge sent an email to plaintiff asking to interview her again. Plaintiff's FOP representative told plaintiff that the interview was scheduled for October 25, 2016, but later the FOP representative told plaintiff the interview was cancelled. On October 25, 2016, Detective Oldridge called plaintiff and asked why she wasn't at the interview. When plaintiff explained that her FOP representative had told her that the interview was cancelled, Detective Oldridge became angry and combative. He told plaintiff that the Professional Standards Board controls internal investigations, not the FOP.

         On November 4, 2016, two WPD officers interviewed plaintiff as part of an investigation into Detective Oldridge's conduct. During the interview, plaintiff complained that Detective Oldridge had violated her constitutional rights in the criminal matter by commencing an aggressive internal investigation during a criminal investigation. Also, plaintiff complained, Detective Oldridge had spoken with her in an unprofessional manner.

         On January 3, 2017, plaintiff learned from her FOP representative that, based on the results of its internal investigation, the Professional Standards Board was planning to serve her with an F Penalty-discipline that is punishable by termination. The FOP representative also told plaintiff that the WPD would give her a due process hearing before termination. Plaintiff met with the FOP on January 10, 2017, to review some of the evidence collected in the internal investigation. During the review, plaintiff found several errors in a WPD officer's report about his investigation.

         On January 11, 2017, plaintiff attended a due process hearing. No. disciplinary action was taken at the hearing. Instead, the WPD decided to postpone disciplinary action until it could clarify information contained in a WPD officer's report.

         On February 13, 2017, plaintiff received a letter from the WPD informing her that it was terminating her employment effective February 13, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. The letter recited that: “[o]n September 11, 2016, you were reported to be involved in a hit and run accident. During the subsequent investigation it was determined that you departed from the truth.” Doc. 13 at 10 (Am. Compl. ¶ 71). On February 16, 2017, plaintiff met with WPD Human Resources. And, on February 17, 2017, plaintiff's FOP representative told plaintiff that WPD Human Resources had overturned her termination and reinstated her employment with the WPD.

         When plaintiff returned to work, she was the subject of false rumors and harassment. Specifically, plaintiff contends, WPD officials released false information to news outlets. And, the Wichita Eagle newspaper allegedly ran stories that falsely accused her of drinking and driving and being involved in a hit-and-run accident. Plaintiff contends that the hostile circumstances she ...

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