United States District Court, D. Colorado
DR. DAVID KUNTZ, Plaintiff,
DELTA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, C. DOUGLAS ATCHLEY, Delta County Commissioner, in his official capacity, C. BRUCE HOVDE, Delta County Commissioner, in his official capacity, and MARK ROEBER, Delta County Commissioner, in his official capacity, Defendants.
ORDER ADOPTING RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES
Christine M. Arguello Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). (Doc. # 24.) On June 2, 2016, this Court referred
the Motion to United States Magistrate Judge Gordon P.
Gallagher pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Fed.R.Civ.P.
72. Upon review, Magistrate Judge Gallagher recommended that
this Court grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. #
38.) For the following reasons, the Court adopts that
Recommendation and dismisses the case.
Dr. David Kuntz, wanted to add a new chicken barn and
egg-laying operation to his existing cattle ranch and wheat
farm in unincorporated Delta County. (Doc. # 1 at 3).
Pursuant to the Delta County Regulation for Specific
Developments (DCR), Defendants, Delta County Board of
Commissioners et al., required Plaintiff to undergo
an application and approval process before adding the
egg-laying operation. (Doc. # 1 at 4-5.) Defendants first
denied Plaintiff's multiple requests for approval but
ultimately granted his application in October 2015. (Doc. # 1
at 5.) Defendants reserved the right to revoke the approval
for violation of any conditions imposed therein. (Doc. # 1 at
March 2016, Plaintiff initiated this suit against Defendants,
raising one substantive claim for relief: a perceived equal
protection violation under the Fourteenth Amendment, 42
U.S.C. §1983, and the Colorado Constitution, Article II,
Section 25.(Doc. # 1 at 9.) Plaintiff argues that,
through their enforcement of the DCR, Defendants treat
individuals engaged in egg-laying operations differently from
similarly-situated individuals engaged in chicken-raising
operations. (Doc. # 1 at 7.) More specifically, he
alleges that a farmer, like himself, who wants to add an
egg-laying operation to his repertoire is required to undergo
review under the DCR while a farmer who wants to add the
rearing of live chickens to his repertoire is not.
2016, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss,
requesting that the Court dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint
for failing to adequately plead an essential element of his
equal protection claim-that the DCR treats similarly-situated
individuals differently. (Doc. # 24 at 7.) Defendants contend
that the DCR plainly requires any new operation to undergo
review, regardless of whether the operation is created to
sell eggs or rear live chickens. (Id.)
Judge Gallagher agreed with Defendants' interpretation of
the DCR and recommended that this Court dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint as not cognizable under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. # 38 at 8-9.) Plaintiff objects
to the Recommendation in its entirety. (Doc. # 41.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
magistrate judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive
motion, Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3) requires that the district
judge conduct a de novo review of any part of the
recommendation that has been properly objected to. In
conducting the review, a “district judge may accept,
reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive
further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate
judge with instructions.” Id. Any arguments
raised for the first time in objections are deemed waivable
and need not be considered by the district court.
Marshall v. Chater, 75 F.3d 1421, 1426 (10th Cir.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court may dismiss a complaint for
failure to state a claim if it appears beyond a doubt that
the plaintiff can plead no set of facts in support of his
claim that would entitle him to relief. Golan v.
Ashcroft, 310 F.Supp.2d 1215, 1217 (D. Colo. 2004).
Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may also be based on the lack
of a cognizable legal theory. Golan, 310 F.Supp.2d
at 1217. In reviewing a motion to dismiss, courts take all
well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as
true and construe the allegations in the light most favorable
to plaintiff. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Khalik v. United Air Lines,
671 F.3d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 2012).
as here, a court's review of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
hinges on interpreting a statute or county enactment,
ordinary rules of statutory construction apply. See
Treece, Alfrey, Musat & Bosworth, PC v. Dep't of
Fin., 298 P.3d 993, 996 (Colo.App. 2011). When
interpreting a statute, a court's “primary task . .
. is to give effect to the intent of the drafters, which [the
court does] by looking to the plain language.”
Id. The court reads “statutes and municipal
enactments in such a way as to give effect to every word,
” considering “the language used in the context
of the statute or code as a whole” and
“construing each [provision] consistently and in
harmony with the overall statutory design.”
Id. Courts “should reject interpretations that
will render words or phrases superfluous and must avoid
interpretations that produce illogical or absurd
results.” Id.; see also Lagae v.
Lackner, 996 P.2d 1281, 1284 (Colo. 2000).