United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LINDSAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is The City's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, filed June 30, 2017
(Doc. 10). Having considered the pleadings, motion, response,
reply, and applicable law, the court, sua sponte,
holds that Plaintiff's federal law claim
must be dismissed because it is not ripe, and the court
declines to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's pendent state law claims.
Accordingly, the court denies as moot The
City's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended
Complaint (Doc. 10) and dismisses without
prejudice this action.
Katrina Ahrens (“Plaintiff” or “Mrs.
Ahrens”) is a detective in the Crimes Against Persons
Division of the Dallas Police Department (“DPD”).
She is also the widow of Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens
(“Sr. Cpl. Ahrens”), also of the DPD. On July 7,
2016, after over fourteen years of service with the DPD, Sr.
Cpl. Ahrens was shot in the line of duty during an ambush on
protesters in downtown Dallas, Texas. He passed away the
following morning, leaving behind his wife (Plaintiff) and
their two minor children.
alleges that the City possesses extensive records related to
the July 7th attack and its aftermath, including
“videos, audio recordings, statements, notes, and other
records, depicting or otherwise documenting the shooting of
Sr. Cpl. Ahrens and his injuries and suffering leading to his
death (hereinafter ‘Sensitive Death
Records').” Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 9
(“Complaint”). Plaintiff further alleges that,
pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act, the media have
made numerous requests for information that include the
Sensitive Death Records. Plaintiff alleges she asked the City
not to release the Sensitive Death Records, but the City
refused her request. Plaintiff attaches to her Complaint a
letter dated May 2, 2017, from Assistant City Attorney James
B. Pinson to Casey Griffith, Esq., Plaintiff's counsel,
To our knowledge, the City has released no crime scene photos
or other information related to the criminal investigation
regarding the sniper attack on July 7, 2016. The
investigation is still pending. After the investigation is
closed, any crime scene photos that are responsive to an open
records request will be reviewed and redacted in accordance
with the [Public Information Act]. The City will not
disclose any sensitive crime scene images to nonenumerated
persons without seeking an attorney general ruling on whether
they are confidential under Government Code section 552.1085.
Nor will the City disclose any confidential information in
the personnel file without seeking an attorney general
Ex. A (emphasis added).
on these alleged fact, Plaintiff brings federal and state law
claims against the City. With respect to her federal law
claim, Plaintiff alleges the City threatens to violate her
substantive due process right to privacy under the Fourteenth
Amendment by publicly disclosing “Sensitive Death
Records or other material relating to Sr. Cpl.
Ahrens[.]” Compl. 5. She seeks a declaratory judgment,
pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §
2201, that she has privacy rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment in the Sensitive Death Records that prohibit the
City's disclosure of the records in its possession.
Plaintiff also asserts as pendent state law claims that the
same threat of disclosure violates her right to privacy under
Texas Constitution article 1, her common-law right to
privacy, and her right to prohibit disclosure of confidential
information under Texas Government Code section 552.101. In
addition to her request for a declaratory judgment, Plaintiff
seeks injunctive relief against disclosure and “[a]ll
relief to which [she] is entitled under Tex. Govt Code §
552.001 et seq.” Compl. 8.
respect to her request for a declaratory judgment and
injunctive relief, Plaintiff invokes the court's subject
matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
1343. See Compl. § 3. She also alleges subject
matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2201, the
Declaratory Judgment Act. Id. Notably, “the
Declaratory Judgment Act is not an independent source of
federal jurisdiction[, ] [and] the availability of such
relief presupposes the existence of a judicially remediable
right[.]” Schilling v. Rogers, 363 U.S. 666,
677 (1960) (internal citation omitted). As to her state law
claims, Plaintiff invokes the court's supplemental
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. See
Compl. § 3.
City has filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that dismissal is
required because, among other things:
The Complaint fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim
against the City because it fails to plead facts sufficient
to support an inference that (1) the Dallas City Council
promulgated or ratified (2) a specific official policy or
custom having the force of official policy (3) that is the
moving force behind the threatened violation of a
City's Mot. to Dismiss 7. The City further argues that
once the court dismisses Plaintiff's federal claim, it
should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her
remaining pendent state law claims and dismiss them without
response to the City's motion to dismiss, Plaintiff
clarifies that she is not seeking to state a claim against
the City for section 1983 violations. Instead, she states:
Mrs. Ahrens seeks a declaratory judgment recognizing her
Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy in the Sensitive Death
Records. This is made clear in her First Amended Complaint.
She does not, at this time, contend her rights have been
violated or seek damages under § 1983, or otherwise. The
City, however, incorrectly contends Mrs. Ahrens seeks
“redress for violations” of her
Fourteenth Amendment rights. And its entire Motion is based
on this false understanding of Mrs. Ahrens' lawsuit. She
did not mistakenly fail to include reference to § 1983
in her First Amended Complaint. It was intentionally avoided
because, again, Mrs. Ahrens asks the Court for a declaratory
judgment before disclosure of Sensitive Death
Records occur. No plaintiff ...