United States District Court, D. Minnesota
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by
defendant Rashida Harbi Tlaib. Based on a review of the file,
record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the motion is granted and the case is dismissed with
leave to file certain claims in state court.
dispute arises out of an interaction between pro
seplaintiff Laura Loomer and
now-Congresswoman Tlaib in August 2018. Loomer is an
investigative journalist who focuses on “issues, news,
and events of concern to Jewish-Americans, terrorism, and
other matters of extreme public importance.” Compl.
¶ 9. At the time of the incident, Tlaib was a candidate
for the United States House of Representatives in
Michigan's 13th Congressional District. Id.
¶ 32. On August 11, 2018, then-candidate Tlaib attended
a campaign event with fellow congressional candidate Ilhan
Omar in Minneapolis. Id. ¶ 18. The incident was
captured on video.
shown in the video, Tlaib held Loomer's hands while they
greeted each other. Loomer then pointedly questioned Tlaib
about her position on certain foreign policy issues.
Id. ¶¶ 24-30. Loomer alleges that during
her questioning, Tlaib “violently grabbed”
Loomer's cell phone. Id. ¶ 21. Referencing
the video of the incident, Loomer also alleges that Tlaib
“physically hit and batter[ed]” her, id.
¶ 67, “physically attacked” her,
id. ¶ 75, and “reached out with her hand
and struck” her, id. ¶ 76.
court has reviewed the video and finds that there were two
points of physical contact between the parties. One occurred
when Tlaib held Loomer's hand and the other when Tlaib
took Loomer's cell phone. Because Loomer does not allege
any contact beyond what took place in the video, the court
understands Loomer's allegations to be characterizations
of those two points of contact.
August 22, 2019, Loomer filed this action alleging assault,
battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and
violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. She
claims that she suffered unspecified physical injuries and
emotional distress as a result of Tlaib's actions and
that she feared “imminent serious bodily injury or
death.” Id. ¶¶ 69, 71. She seeks
$500, 000 in actual and compensatory damages and $2 million
in punitive damages. Loomer alleges diversity and federal
question jurisdiction. Id. ¶¶ 2-3.
Standard of Review
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
“‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Braden v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
[has pleaded] factual content that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
556 (2007)). Although a complaint need not contain detailed
factual allegations, it must raise a right to relief above
the speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
“[L]abels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action” are not enough to
state a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
court liberally construes pro se complaints and will dismiss
an action only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff
“can allege no set of facts which would support an
exercise of jurisdiction.” Sanders v. United
States, 760 F.2d 869, 871 (8th Cir. 1985).
court does not consider matters outside the pleadings under
Rule 12(b)(6). Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). The court may, however,
consider matters of public record and materials that are
“necessarily embraced by the pleadings.”
Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077,
1079 (8th Cir. 1999) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). Here, the court considers the video of the incident
in question, which Loomer incorporates by reference into the
complaint and references throughout the complaint. See
Bogie v. Rosenberg, 705 F.3d 603, 608-09 (7th Cir. 2013)
(upholding the district court's decision on a motion to
dismiss to consider a video incorporated into and attached to
the complaint and to “weigh its contents against the
complaint's allegations”); see also Zean v.
Fairview Health Servs., 858 F.3d 520, 526 (8th Cir.
2017) (“In general, materials embraced by the complaint
include ‘documents whose contents are alleged in a
complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but
which are not physically attached to the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
alleges that then-candidate Tlaib violated her rights under
the RFRA by “violently attacking” her in an
attempt to “shut down her attempts to gather news and
inform the public of Rashida ...