Arakawa v. Sakata, No. CV00-761 DAE-KSC.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
Writing for the CourtDavid Alan Ezra
Citation133 F.Supp.2d 1223
PartiesClyde ARAKAWA, Plaintiff, v. Ronald SAKATA, Chief Adjudicator of the Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office, in his individual capacity, Defendant.
Docket NumberNo. CV00-761 DAE-KSC.
Decision Date06 March 2001
133 F.Supp.2d 1223
Clyde ARAKAWA, Plaintiff,
v.
Ronald SAKATA, Chief Adjudicator of the Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office, in his individual capacity, Defendant.
No. CV00-761 DAE-KSC.
United States District Court, D. Hawaii.
March 6, 2001.

Page 1224

Michael G.M. Ostendorp, Honolulu, HI, for Clyde Arakawa, plaintiff.

Earl I. Anzai, John P. Dellera, Office of the Attorney General-Hawaii, Russell A. Suzuki, Department of the Attorney General, Education Division, Honolulu, HI, for Ronald Sakata, Chief Adjudicator of the Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office, in his individual capacity, defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

DAVID ALAN EZRA, Chief Judge.


The court heard Defendant's Motion on March 5, 2001. John P. Dellera, Deputy Attorney General, appeared on the briefs or at the hearing on behalf of Defendant; Shawn Luiz, Esq., appeared on the briefs or at the hearing on behalf of Plaintiff. After reviewing the motion and the supporting and opposing memoranda, the court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Complaint.

BACKGROUND1

On October 7, 2000, Plaintiff was involved in a two-car collision in Honolulu which resulted in the death of the driver of the other car. He refused to take a breath or blood test, and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor and Negligent Homicide. Accordingly, his driver's license was administratively revoked in proceedings before the Hawaii Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office ("ADLRO").

Page 1225

Plaintiff alleges that in the aftermath of the accident, ADLRO released private information about him, including his address, birth date, social security number, and police reports relating to the accident. News outlets picked up this information and widely disseminated it.2 On November 14, 2000, Plaintiff filed suit against Ronald Sakata ("Defendant"), Chief Adjudicator of ADLRO in his individual capacity. The Complaint alleges violations of: (1) Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 92F (right to maintenance of records), (2) the right to privacy under the constitution of the State of Hawaii, (3) the right to privacy under federal statutes and the federal constitution (though not specifying to which federal statutes he refers), and (4) 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343 for the federal claims, and supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 for the state law claims.

On December 18, 2000, Defendant (represented by the State Attorney General's Office) filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. In it, he makes the following arguments: (1) there is no federal question jurisdiction because the acts complained of, even if true, do not amount to a Constitutional violation; without a federal claim, this court lacks jurisdiction, (2) Plaintiff fails to assert a cognizable claim under state law, and (3) even if Plaintiff has asserted a federal or state claim, Defendant is entitled to immunity, either absolute quasi-judicial immunity, statutory immunity, or qualified immunity. On February 14, 2001, Plaintiff filed his Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, and on February 22, 2001, Defendant filed his Reply.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss will be granted where the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the purposes of a 12(b)(6) motion, "[r]eview is limited to the contents of the complaint." Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 755 (9th Cir.1994).

A complaint should not be dismissed "unless it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [his] claim which would entitle [him] to relief." Buckey v. County of Los Angeles, 968 F.2d 791, 794 (9th Cir.1992) (quoting Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir.1989)) (further citations omitted). All allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id.

To the extent, however, that "matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b); Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd. v. Monterey, 920 F.2d 1496, 1507 (9th Cir.1990).

DISCUSSION

A. Federal Claim

The court first addresses Defendant's argument that Plaintiff has failed to state a federal cause of action. Plaintiff's federal claim is that he was deprived of his Constitutional right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment. Chapter 42 Section 1983 of the United States Code is the proper method by which plaintiffs may complain of alleged constitutional violations by state officers. See Azul-Pacifico, Inc. v. Los Angeles, 973 F.2d 704, 705 (9th Cir.1992) ("a litigant complaining of a violation of a constitutional right must utilize 42 U.S.C. § 1983.") (citations omitted); see also Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 146, 99 S.Ct. 2689, 61 L.Ed.2d 433 (noting that § 1983 only imposes liability for federal constitutional violations, not for violations of state tort law). To make out a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must show that: (1) the action occurred under color of state law, and (2) the action resulted in a deprivation of a constitutional right or a federal

Page 1226

statutory right. See McDade v. West, 223 F.3d 1135 (9th Cir.2000). If Plaintiff has failed to state a federal claim, the Complaint in this court must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Chicago v. International College of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 164, 118 S.Ct. 523, 139 L.Ed.2d 525 (1997); 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

At issue in the instant case is the second prong of the § 1983 test, and the question for the court thus becomes: do Plaintiff's allegations give rise to a constitutional violation? In other words, assuming that Defendant did release Plaintiff's personal information (such as birth date, address and social security number) to the media, does this amount to a deprivation of constitutionally protected privacy rights?3 Any discussion of constitutionally protected privacy rights in records such as those at issue here must begin with Whalen v. Roe, 429 U.S. 589, 97 S.Ct. 869, 51 L.Ed.2d 64 (1977).

In Whalen, the Supreme Court considered the validity of a state statutory scheme which required that certain information about medical patients (such as their names, addresses, ages, physicians and prescription information) be filed with the state department of health. Doctors and patients argued that this system violated the constitutionally protected "zone of privacy" inherent in the doctor-patient relationship. Id. at 598-99, 97 S.Ct. 869. The Court explained that there are two types of privacy interests that may be constitutionally protected. "One is the individual interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters, and another is the interest in independence in making certain kinds of important decisions." Id. at 599-600, 97 S.Ct. 869; see also Nixon v. Administrator of Gen. Servs., 433 U.S. 425, 457, 97 S.Ct. 2777, 53 L.Ed.2d 867 (1977); In re Crawford, 194 F.3d 954, 958 (9th Cir.1999). The Court did not elaborate, however, on the extent of the constitutional privacy protection, because it held that the state statutory scheme evidenced "a proper concern with, and protection of, the individual's interest in privacy." See id. at 605-06, 97 S.Ct. 869 ("We therefore need not, and do not, decide any question which might be presented by the unwarranted disclosure of accumulated private data ...").

In the years since Whalen, courts have struggled to define the limits of a constitutional right to privacy, especially with respect to disclosure of personal matters. See, e.g., Crawford, 194 F.3d at 958 ("the Supreme Court has expressed uncertainty regarding the precise bounds of the constitutional `zone of privacy'"); Kallstrom v. Columbus, 136 F.3d 1055, 1060 (6th Cir. 1998) ("the boundaries of the right to privacy have not been clearly delineated"); American Federation of Govt. Employees v. Dept. of Housing and Urban Dev't, 118 F.3d 786, 793 (D.C.Cir.1997) ("numerous uncertainties attend this issue"); Eagle v. Morgan, 88 F.3d 620, 625 (8th Cir.1996) ("the exact boundaries of this right are, to say the least, unclear"); James v. Douglas, 941 F.2d 1539, 1543 (11th Cir.1991) ("the constitutional right to privacy has vague contours and has been in a state of flux in recent years"); Woods v. White, 689 F.Supp. 874, 875 (W.D.Wis.1988) ("the Supreme Court has given little specific guidance in defining privacy rights") aff'd 899 F.2d 17 (7th Cir.1990). Several courts have found that there exists a violation of a constitutional privacy right in the public disclosure of private medical information, but beyond this, there is no real consensus. See, e.g., Doe v. Attorney General, 941 F.2d 780 (9th Cir.1991) (collecting cases); Doe v. New York, 15 F.3d 264 (2nd Cir. 1994); United States v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 638 F.2d 570 (3d Cir.1980); Woods, 689 F.Supp. 874.

One recent Ninth Circuit case to explore constitutional informational privacy rights is Crawford, 194 F.3d 954. In that case, a non-attorney bankruptcy petition preparer

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("BPP") objected to the federal statute (11 U.S.C. § 110(c)) requiring BPPs to provide their social security numbers ("SSN") on documents they submit to the court. Id. at 956. He claimed that forcing him to release his social security number on public court documents violated his right to privacy in his SSN, and subjected him to the possibility of credit card fraud. See id. The court stated that "the indiscriminate public disclosure of SSNs, especially when accompanied by names and addresses, may implicate the constitutional right to informational privacy." Id. at 958. It went on to note that a SSN is a unique and private identifier, not generally disclosed to the public, and that "disclosure of SSNs can raise serious privacy concerns."...

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  • Varo v. L. A. Cnty. Dist. Attorney's Office, Case No. CV 18-9025-DMG (KSx)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • August 14, 2019
    ...the particular item of information, that will dictate the tipping of the scales." Id.Although the County cites Arakawa v. Sakata , 133 F. Supp. 2d 1223, 1228 (D. Haw. 2001), to support its argument, it is far more helpful to Plaintiffs. Arakawa echoed Crawford and held that "there is a cons......
  • Mallak v. Aitkin Cnty., Civil No. 13–2119 (DWF/LIB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • March 31, 2014
    ...Some courts have held that disclosure of SSNs without permission violates the constitutional right of privacy. See Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1229 (D.Hawai'i 2001) (considering “the voluminous and largely ambiguous case law on the subject” of privacy rights in confidential infor......
  • Titus v. City of Prairie City, No. CV–08–1330–SU.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Oregon)
    • July 14, 2011
    ...is “murky at best.” O'Phelan v. Loy, CV–09–00236 SOM/KSC, 2011 WL 719053, at *11 (D.Haw. Feb. 18, 2011); See also Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1226–29 (D.Haw.2001) (discussing cases). The court cannot necessarily conclude that the constitutional right to privacy completely bars an......
  • Mallak v. Aitkin Cnty., Civil No. 13–2119 DWF/LIB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • March 31, 2014
    ...Some courts have held that disclosure of SSNs without permission violates the constitutional right of privacy. See Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1229 (D.Hawai'i 2001) (considering “the voluminous and largely ambiguous case law on the subject” of privacy rights in confidential infor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Varo v. L. A. Cnty. Dist. Attorney's Office, Case No. CV 18-9025-DMG (KSx)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • August 14, 2019
    ...the particular item of information, that will dictate the tipping of the scales." Id.Although the County cites Arakawa v. Sakata , 133 F. Supp. 2d 1223, 1228 (D. Haw. 2001), to support its argument, it is far more helpful to Plaintiffs. Arakawa echoed Crawford and held that "there is a cons......
  • Mallak v. Aitkin Cnty., Civil No. 13–2119 (DWF/LIB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • March 31, 2014
    ...Some courts have held that disclosure of SSNs without permission violates the constitutional right of privacy. See Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1229 (D.Hawai'i 2001) (considering “the voluminous and largely ambiguous case law on the subject” of privacy rights in confidential infor......
  • Titus v. City of Prairie City, No. CV–08–1330–SU.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Oregon)
    • July 14, 2011
    ...is “murky at best.” O'Phelan v. Loy, CV–09–00236 SOM/KSC, 2011 WL 719053, at *11 (D.Haw. Feb. 18, 2011); See also Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1226–29 (D.Haw.2001) (discussing cases). The court cannot necessarily conclude that the constitutional right to privacy completely bars an......
  • Mallak v. Aitkin Cnty., Civil No. 13–2119 DWF/LIB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • March 31, 2014
    ...Some courts have held that disclosure of SSNs without permission violates the constitutional right of privacy. See Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1229 (D.Hawai'i 2001) (considering “the voluminous and largely ambiguous case law on the subject” of privacy rights in confidential infor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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