BJRL v. State of Utah, Civ. No. C86-324G.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Utah
Writing for the CourtJ. THOMAS GREENE
Citation655 F. Supp. 692
PartiesB.J.R.L., et al., Plaintiffs, v. The STATE OF UTAH, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date28 January 1987
Docket NumberCiv. No. C86-324G.

655 F. Supp. 692

B.J.R.L., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
The STATE OF UTAH, et al., Defendants.

Civ. No. C86-324G.

United States District Court, D. Utah, C.D.

January 28, 1987.


655 F. Supp. 693

Brian M. Barnard, Salt Lake City, Utah, for plaintiffs.

Michael D. Smith, Logan, Utah, for defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

J. THOMAS GREENE, District Judge.

This matter came on regularly for hearing on December 18, 1986, on defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiffs were represented by Brian M. Barnard and defendants were represented by Michael D. Smith. Plaintiffs and defendants submitted memorandums of law and the court heard oral argument, after which the matter was taken under advisement. The court now being fully advised, sets forth its Memorandum Decision and Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are suing personally and as representatives for a class of Utah residents who have minor children born out of wedlock,1 and who have received or will seek public assistance from the State of Utah under federally assisted programs such as the Aid to Families with Dependent Children ("AFDC"). Plaintiffs have named as defendants the State of Utah; the Utah State Department of Social Services; the Utah State Office of Recovery Services; David L. Wilkinson, Attorney General of the State of Utah ("Wilkinson"); Sandy Mooy, Assistant Attorney General of the State of Utah ("Mooy"); David Tibbs, Assistant Attorney General of the State of Utah ("Tibbs"); John Does I and II, Employees of the Utah State Office of Recovery Services ("collectively" "Does"); James N. Kidder, Director, Support Enforcement Office of the Office of Recovery Services ("Kidder"); John P. Abbott, Director, Office of Recovery Services ("Abbott"); and Andy Haag, Director, Assistance Payments Office ("Haag").

Plaintiff B.J.R.L. alleges that prior to August 1985, she sought approval from the Utah Assistance Payments Office to receive public assistance under the AFDC program. In August of 1985, B.J.R.L. gave birth to her son, J.J.L. At the time of the birth, B.J.R.L. was not married to J.J. L.'s father. At that time B.J.R.L. began receiving monthly payments from the State

655 F. Supp. 694
of Utah under the AFDC program to benefit B.J.R.L. and J.J.L. As a condition to receiving those AFDC benefits, B.J.R.L. was required to sign an agreement to cooperate with the State of Utah in seeking support from J.J.L.'s father and to assign to the Department of Social Services and the Office of Recovery Services all money which might be recovered as support from J.J.L.'s father. Utah Code Ann. § 78-45b-3 (1977). Thereafter a paternity action was instituted in Utah state court in the name of the State of Utah, by and through the Utah State Department of Social Services. In that action the State of Utah sought to establish paternity regarding J.J.L. and to obtain an Order for past and future child support obligations for the child. As a consequence of filing of that action it became public record that B.J.R.L. and J.J.L. had been receiving public assistance, that B.J.R.L. had given birth to a child out of wedlock, and that J.J.L. was that child. B.J.R.L. and J.J.L. are not parties to the pending paternity action and are not represented by the State of Utah in that action. Further, B.J.R.L. and J.J.L. are without resources to obtain their own legal representation. B.J.R.L. has requested that the Utah State Attorney General represent the interests of B.J.R.L. and J.J.L. in the paternity action, but that request has been denied. B.J.R.L. asserts that the putative father of J.J.L. has a history of violence

The allegations of plaintiff D.J.R. and her minor son, C.D.R., are essentially the same as those of B.J.R.L. and J.J.L. In addition, however, D.J.R. has alleged that Assistant Attorney Generals Mooy and Tibbs have insisted that D.J.R. participate in the compromise and resolution of her future rights to support against the putative father even though neither D.J.R. and C.D.R. are represented parties in the paternity suit. Further, D.J.R. is no longer receiving public assistance.

LEGAL ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs allege violation of their constitutional rights to privacy and due process of law under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, and violation of 5 U.S.C. § 552a of the Privacy Act of 1974. Plaintiffs also assert pendent state law claims based upon the common law right to privacy and several provisions of Utah statutory law which deal with public disclosure of private information. Plaintiffs seek only declaratory and injunctive relief and not money damages under their asserted legal theories. Before this court can deal with the possible merits of plaintiffs' claims, fundamental issues of sovereign immunity, absolute immunity and qualified immunity must be resolved.

I. SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY

The United States Supreme Court frequently has reiterated that with one limited exception of prospective injunctive relief the Eleventh Amendment prevents a state from being sued in federal court by anyone other than the federal government or another state. Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 149, 28 S.Ct. 441, 449, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908); Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64, 106 S.Ct. 423, 425, 88 L.Ed.2d 371 (1985). However, the Supreme Court has acknowledged that immunity is not present if a state unequivocally has consented to suit, or if Congress, pursuant to a valid exercise of power, unequivocally has expressed its intent to abrogate immunity. Green, 106 S.Ct. at 425-26. Here, plaintiffs argue that because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 grants a remedy to "every person who is ... deprived of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution ...," Congress necessarily has abrogated immunity from such suits. In support of that position plaintiffs rely on Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445, 456, 96 S.Ct. 2666, 2671, 49 L.Ed.2d 614 (1976) wherein the Supreme Court stated that pursuant to Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, "Congress may, in determining what is `appropriate legislation' for the purpose of enforcing the provision of the Fourteenth Amendment, provide for private suits against states or state officials which are constitutionally impermissible under the Eleventh Amendment in other contexts." Based upon Fitzpatrick there can be no question but that Congress could unequivocally

655 F. Supp. 695
abrogate immunity from civil rights suits brought pursuant to legislation enforcing Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, Congress has declined to do so. In Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 1145, 59 L.Ed.2d 358 (1979) the Supreme Court expressly rejected the argument that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or its accompanying legislative history demonstrates a Congressional intent to abrogate sovereign immunity. See also Lee v. McManus, 589 F.Supp. 633, 638 (D.Kan.1984). Therefore, for plaintiffs to be able to proceed their suit must come within the prospective injunctive relief exception created by the Supreme Court to the principle of sovereign immunity

In Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 155-59, 28 S.Ct. 441, 452, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908) the Supreme Court held that a state officer could be sued in federal court to prevent enforcement of an unconstitutional state law. The result of that holding is that suit may be brought in federal court against state officials so long as only prospective injunctive relief is sought as relating to an alleged constitutional violation. See Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64, 106 S.Ct. 423, 426, 88 L.Ed.2d 371 (1985); Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 102, 104 S.Ct. 900, 909, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 337, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 1143, 59 L.Ed.2d 358 (1979); see also Navajo Nation v. District Court for Utah County, 624 F.Supp. 130, 137 (D.Utah 1985). In Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 666-67, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 1357, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974) the Supreme Court extended the restrictive parameters of the Ex Parte Young exception to suits against state officials when prospective relief is sought to prevent violation of federal law. Here plaintiffs seek prospective relief to prevent the State of Utah from initiating or prosecuting paternity suits which affect the rights of plaintiffs without joining plaintiffs as parties and without providing legal representation for them. Plaintiffs also seek prospective relief to require that the names of the mothers and children be obscured in the paternity suits brought by the state and that all personal information given in connection with those actions be protected.

Based upon the foregoing analysis of sovereign immunity we hold that plaintiffs' claims for prospective relief from alleged constitutional violations and violations of federal law should be allowed to proceed against all named state officials. The claims against the State of Utah; the Utah Department of Social Services and the Utah Office of Recovery Services must be dismissed,2 without prejudice to being brought in a proper forum. In addition, defendants Doe I and Doe II are also dismissed because there is no allegation that either are officials of the State of Utah, but rather that both are alleged employees of the state.3

The final issue regarding sovereign immunity deals with plaintiffs' pendent state law claims. In Pennhurst State

655 F. Supp. 696
School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 104 S.Ct. 900, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984) the issue before the Supreme Court was whether the exceptions of Ex Parte Young and Edelman would be extended so that a state official could be sued in federal court to prevent prospective violations of state law. In Pennhurst the court held
A federal court's grant of relief against state officials on the basis of state law, whether prospective or retroactive, does not vindicate the supreme authority of federal law. On the contrary, it is difficult to think of a greater intrusion on state sovereignty.... We conclude that Young and Edelman are inapplicable in a suit against state
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5 practice notes
  • WINFRED D v. MICHELIN North America INC., No. B195416.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 22, 2008
    ...about their relationship with Winfred, subjecting them to unnecessary embarrassment. (See B.J.R.L. v. State of Utah (D.Utah 1987) 655 F.Supp. 692, 693-694, 697-699; S.M. v. J.K. (9th Cir.2001) 262 F.3d 914, 919, amended (9th Cir.2003) 315 F.3d 1058.) Perhaps more disturbing was Michelin's d......
  • Scheetz v. Morning Call, Inc., Civ. A. No. 89-6755.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • October 1, 1990
    ...(Wisdom, J.) (financial information); Woods v. White, 689 F.Supp. 874, 875-76 (W.D.Wis.1988) (health information); B.J. R.L. v. Utah, 655 F.Supp. 692, 699 (D.Utah 747 F. Supp. 1522 1987) (paternity information); Natwig v. Webster, 562 F.Supp. 225, 226-27 & n. 1 (D.R.I.1983) (arrest records ......
  • Cooper v. State of Utah, Civ. No. 87-C-606G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Utah
    • December 21, 1987
    ...67 (1984); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 337, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 1143, 59 L.Ed. 2d 358 (1979); see also B.J.R.L. v. State of Utah, et al., 655 F.Supp. 692, 694-95 (D.Utah 1987) and Navajo Nation v. District Court for Utah County, 624 F.Supp. 130, 137 (D.Utah 1985). In Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.......
  • Winfred D. v. Michelin North America, Inc., No. B195416.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 7, 2008
    ...about their relationship with Winfred, subjecting them to unnecessary embarrassment. (See B.J.R.L. v. State of Utah (D.Utah 1987) 655 F.Supp. 692, 693-694, 697-699; S.M. v. J.K. (9th Cir. 2001) 262 F.3d 914, 919, amended (9th Cir. 2003) 315 F.3d 1058.) Perhaps more disturbing was Michelin's......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Cooper v. State of Utah, Civ. No. 87-C-606G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Utah
    • December 21, 1987
    ...67 (1984); Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 337, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 1143, 59 L.Ed. 2d 358 (1979); see also B.J.R.L. v. State of Utah, et al., 655 F.Supp. 692, 694-95 (D.Utah 1987) and Navajo Nation v. District Court for Utah County, 624 F.Supp. 130, 137 (D.Utah 1985). In Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.......
  • Scheetz v. Morning Call, Inc., Civ. A. No. 89-6755.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • October 1, 1990
    ...(Wisdom, J.) (financial information); Woods v. White, 689 F.Supp. 874, 875-76 (W.D.Wis.1988) (health information); B.J. R.L. v. Utah, 655 F.Supp. 692, 699 (D.Utah 747 F. Supp. 1522 1987) (paternity information); Natwig v. Webster, 562 F.Supp. 225, 226-27 & n. 1 (D.R.I.1983) (arrest reco......
  • WINFRED D v. MICHELIN North America INC., No. B195416.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 22, 2008
    ...about their relationship with Winfred, subjecting them to unnecessary embarrassment. (See B.J.R.L. v. State of Utah (D.Utah 1987) 655 F.Supp. 692, 693-694, 697-699; S.M. v. J.K. (9th Cir.2001) 262 F.3d 914, 919, amended (9th Cir.2003) 315 F.3d 1058.) Perhaps more disturbing was Michelin's d......
  • Winfred D. v. Michelin North America, Inc., No. B195416.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 7, 2008
    ...about their relationship with Winfred, subjecting them to unnecessary embarrassment. (See B.J.R.L. v. State of Utah (D.Utah 1987) 655 F.Supp. 692, 693-694, 697-699; S.M. v. J.K. (9th Cir. 2001) 262 F.3d 914, 919, amended (9th Cir. 2003) 315 F.3d 1058.) Perhaps more disturbing was Michelin's......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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