Legal Memorandum: Dismissal of a Civil Rights Complaint in HI

Issue: Under Hawaii law, when must a complaint in a civil rights action alleging improper disclosure of personal information be dismissed for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Civil rights complaint; Dismissal; Failure to state a claim
Jurisdiction: Hawaii
Cited Cases: 355 U.S. 41; 397 U.S. 728; 927 P.2d 386; 844 F.2d 628; 429 U.S. 589; 746 P.2d 79; 510 U.S. 487; 706 P.2d 814; 489 U.S. 749; 69 Haw. 449; 68 Haw. 140; 18 F.3d 752
Cited Statutes: Rule 12(b)(6); Haw. Const. art. I, § 6;Restatement (Second) of Torts §§ 652D, 383; Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-14; Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-2
Date: 04/01/2001

          A complaint should not be dismissed unless “it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.”  Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 101-02 (1957).  The court’s review “is limited to the contents of the complaint,” Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 755 (9th Cir. 1994), and all allegations of material fact must be taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, id. at 755.  Civil rights complaints are to be liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff.  Id.

Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in conjunction with Rule 8(a), which requires “a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”  5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990).  Thus, a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper only if there is a “lack of a cognizable legal theory” or “the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.”  Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the following elements: (1) a person acting under color of state law engaged in the conduct at issue; and (2) the conduct deprived the plaintiff of some right, privilege, or immunity protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.  Leer […]

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