United States District Court, D. Delaware
Michele D. Allen, ALLEN & ASSOCIATES, Wilmington,
Delaware Counsel for P plaintiff.
K. Durstein, III, Wilson B. Davis, STATE OF DELAWARE
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Wilmington, Delaware Counsel for
CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert Metzgar III has sued five defendants for alleged
violations of his right to due process under the Fourteenth
Amendment of the United States Constitution: the State of
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental
Control ("DNREC"); Shawn M. Garvin, the Secretary
of DNREC; Garvin's predecessor, David Small; Drew T.
Aydelotte, the Chief of DNREC's Division of Fish &
Wildlife Natural Resources Police Department ("the
FWPD"); and Brian Pollock, a Captain with the FWPD.
Pending before me is Defendants' motion to dismiss all
four counts of the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See D.I. 4. For the
reasons discussed below, I will grant the motion.
began his employment with DNREC as an FWPD probationary
officer in February 2016. D.I. l-l¶ll. On an unspecified
date around 10:00 a.m., while Plaintiff was off-duty, he
received a text message from FWPD Corporal Shea Lindale
regarding his work schedule. Id. ¶¶ 22-23.
Plaintiff "did not respond to the text message because
he was off and was sleeping." Id. ¶ 23.
Plaintiff contacted Corporal Lindale "when he woke
up." Id. ¶ 24. Because he "was
embarrassed he was still asleep at such a late hour[, ]
[w]hen asked [by Corporal Lindale] if he was sleeping[, ]
[Plaintiff] said no, he was standing in his deer stand."
December 2016, Captain Pollock, who served as Plaintiffs
Field Training Officer, questioned Plaintiff "regarding
his conversation with [Corporal] Lindale during [Plaintiffs]
day off and whether or not he was truly in his deer stand
that morning or if he was just asleep." Id.
¶¶ 25, 27. Captain Pollock did not provide
Plaintiff with notice that he was conducting an investigation
prior to his questioning of Plaintiff; nor did he advise
Plaintiff of his right to be represented by counsel during
this questioning. Id. ¶ 26. Pollack later
called Plaintiff while Plaintiff was off-duty and told him
that their conversation would be "completely off the
record." Id. ¶ 28. Pollock again asked
Plaintiff if he had truly been in his deer stand, or if he
had been sleeping. Id. "Plaintiff admitted to
[Pollock] that he had been sleeping on his day off."
thereafter, Captain Pollock and Chief Aydelotte met with
Plaintiff and told him he was being terminated from his
probationary employment. Id. ¶ 33. Aydelotte
"handed [Plaintiff] a letter stating the reasons for his
termination were related to truthfulness." Id.
The questioning conducted by Pollock and the answers provided
by Plaintiff directly led to his dismissal. Id.
¶ 34. Plaintiff was not provided a hearing concerning
the termination of his probationary employment. Id.
11, 2018, Plaintiff filed his complaint against Defendants in
the Superior Court of Delaware. See D.I. 1 at 1. On
August 24, 2018, Defendants removed the case to this Court.
See Id. at 2.
complaint has four counts. Count I, brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against all five Defendants, alleges that
Plaintiffs termination without a hearing and other
protections to which he was entitled under the Delaware Law
Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (DELEBOR), 11 Del. C.
§ 9200 et seq., deprived him of a property
interest without due process in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Count II, also brought against all five
Defendants, alleges that Plaintiffs termination without a
"name-clearing hearing" deprived him of the liberty
interest in his reputation without due process in violation
of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although Plaintiff did not cite
a statutory or common law basis for Count II, Defendants have
treated Count II as a § 1983 claim, and therefore, the
Court will do the same. Count III, brought pursuant to §
1983 against DNREC only, alleges that DNREC's custom and
policy of not providing its probationary officers a
pre-termination hearing required by the DELEBOR violated
Plaintiffs Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. Count IV,
brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201 and Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 57, seeks a declaratory judgment that
Defendants violated Plaintiffs Fourteenth Amendment rights
and injunctive relief in the form of Plaintiff s
reinstatement as a probationary officer and the removal of
"any statements made by Plaintiff [that] were obtained
in violation of [the DELEBOR]." D.L 1-1
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint
must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." FED. R.
Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not
required, but the complaint must set forth sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is facially
plausible when the factual content allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged. Ashcrofi v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, the court must accept as true all factual
allegations in the complaint and view them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Umland, 542 F.3d at 64.
Further, "[i]n deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court
must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the
complaint, matters of public record, as well as undisputedly
authentic documents if the complaint's claims are based
upon these documents." Mayer v. Belichick, 605
F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010); see also Krauter v. Siemens
Corp., 725 Fed.Appx. 102, 109 (3d Cir. 2018)
("Although we draw reasonable inferences in [plaintiffs]
favor, we do not interpolate allegations that are not in the
Plaintiffs Property-Interest Fourteenth ...