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Creek Red Nation, LLC v. Jeffco Midget Football Association, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 30, 2016

CREEK RED NATION, LLC, and HIGHLANDS RANCH YOUTH FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION, a non-profit corporation, Plaintiffs,
v.
JEFFCO MIDGET FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION, INC., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. # 18)

CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Defendant Jeffco Midget Football Association, Inc.'s ("JMFA") Motion to Dismiss, which was filed on June 2, 2015. (Doc. # 18.) Plaintiffs Creek Red Nation, LLC ("CRN") and Highlands Ranch Youth Football Association ("HRYFA") responded to JMFA's motion on June 4, 2015. (Doc. # 19.) JMFA did not reply to Plaintiffs' response. For the following reasons, JMFA's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

CRN is "a group of six youth football teams primarily made up of minority children." (Doc. # 1 at 1 ¶ 2.) CRN alleges that, after four years of participation as a member association, JMFA wrongfully expelled CRN. (Doc. # 1 at 2 ¶ 2.) To "save the children of CRN from the expulsion, " HRYFA-another participating member of JMFA- "immediately took in the CRN teams so that the CRN teams could play in JMFA under the HRYFA banner." (Doc. # 1 at 2 ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs allege that JMFA "then expelled all 24 HRYFA teams, in order to keep out the CRN teams." (Doc. # 1 at 2 ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs allege that JMFA's actions were based on racial animus. (Doc. # 1 at 6 ¶¶ 32-38.)

In their complaint, Plaintiffs allege violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (claim one), 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (claim two), 42 U.S.C. § 2000a (claim three), and Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-601 (claim four), as well as claims for breach of contract (claim five) and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing (claim six). (Doc. # 1 at 9-12 ¶¶ 58-80.)

II. ANLAYSIS

JMFA moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 12(b)(1) provides that a complaint may be dismissed for "lack of subject-matter jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) is not a judgment on the merits of the plaintiff's claim. Instead, it is a determination that the court lacks authority to adjudicate the matter. See Castaneda v. INS, 23 F.3d 1576, 1580 (10th Cir. 1994) (recognizing that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may only exercise jurisdiction when specifically authorized to do so). The burden of establishing subject-matter jurisdiction is on the party asserting jurisdiction. Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co., 495 F.2d 906, 909 (10th Cir. 1974).

Rule 12(b)(6) provides that a complaint may be dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the plaintiff must set forth "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true the factual allegations contained in the complaint, but it may not rely on mere conclusions. Id. at 555.

A. Whether Plaintiffs have standing to bring claims for the alleged violations

JMFA contends that Plaintiffs lack standing to bring claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1985, and 2000a because "they do not allege any immediate or threatened injury to their members, who are the holders of those claimed civil rights." (Doc. # 18 at 4.) Instead, according to JMFA, "Plaintiffs allege only injury to the organizations themselves as a result of their expulsion from [JMFA]." (Doc. # 18 at 4.)

A challenge to a plaintiff's standing to bring a particular claim is properly raised in a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court construes JMFA's motion as a facial challenge to Plaintiffs' complaint. "In addressing a facial attack, the district court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true." United States v. Rodriguez-Aguirre, 264 F.3d 1195, 1203 (10th Cir. 2001).

"[T]he term standing' subsumes a blend of constitutional requirements and prudential considerations." Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471 (1982). To establish standing under Article III of the United States Constitution, a plaintiff must show: (1) that he or she has personally suffered an injury in fact; (2) that the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) that it is likely, not merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). Beyond these constitutional requirements, a plaintiff must also satisfy the following prudential principles: (1) the plaintiff generally must assert his or her own legal rights; (2) the court must refrain from adjudicating "generalized grievances"; and (3) the plaintiff's complaint must fall within the zone of interest to be protected or regulated by the statute or constitutional right in question. Mount Evans Co. v. Madigan, 14 F.3d 1444, 1450-51 (10th Cir. 1994).

An organization may, in some situations, have standing to bring claims on behalf of its members. In order to have "organizational standing, " the organization must demonstrate (1) that its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (2) that the interests the organization seeks to protect are germane to the organization's purpose; and (3) that neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation in the lawsuit of the individual members. Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Adver. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 342-43 (1977).

JMFA argues that Plaintiffs lack "organizational standing" because they "do not allege that their expulsion from JMFA has caused their members any immediate or threatened injury as a result of JMFA's actions, but rather that JMFA's actions have caused the organizations themselves immediate or threatened injury because CRN teams will be forced to break up." (Doc. # 18 at 7 (emphasis in original).) JMFA further argues that the individual members would lack standing ...


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