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State v. Ingalls

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

March 17, 2016

STATE OF MAINE Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN INGALLS, Defendant

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          LANCE E. WALKER, JUSTICE

         This matter comes before the court on Defendant Brian Ingalls' motion to dismiss pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's motion to dismiss is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The State brings this action against Mr. Ingalls pursuant to the Maine Civil Rights Act, 5 M.R.S. §§ 4681 and 4684-B (2)(D) (hereafter the "Act"). The State alleges that on or about October 23, 2015, Mr. Ingalls yelled toward the second floor of the building located at 443 Congress Street in Portland, in which Planned Parenthood of Northern New England operates a health care facility. The State avers that Mr. Ingalls' yelled with the intent and did in fact cause the disruption of the safe and effective delivery of health services inside the facility in violation of the Act. The State requests that the court grant relief as follows: (1) enjoin Mr. Ingalls from knowingly coming within 50 feet of Planned Parenthood's facilities; (2) enjoin Mr. Ingalls from further violating section 4684(2)(D); (3) declare that Mr. Ingalls violated the Maine Civil Rights Act; (4) order Mr. Ingalls to pay a civil penalty of up to $5, 000 for each violation; and (5) order Mr. Ingalls to pay the State's reasonable attorney's fees.

         II. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and will be granted only if the complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); State v. Weinschenk, 2005 ME 28, ¶ 10, 868 A.2d 200. The sufficiency of a complaint is a question of law. Bean v. Cummings, 2008 ME 18, ¶ 7, 939 A.2d 676. On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the facts are not adjudicated. Marshall v. Town of Dexter, 2015 ME 135, ¶ 2, 125 A.3d 1141. The court reviews the material allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff to determine whether the plaintiff would be entitled to relief pursuant to some legal theory. Bean, 2008 ME 18, ¶ 7, 939 A.2d 676. Dismissal is warranted only when it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff is not entitled to relief under any set of facts that the plaintiff might prove in support of his or her claim. Id.

         Defendant's motion to dismiss is bottomed on three main arguments; to wit:

1. The State has failed to make allegations that would support a claim under the Maine Civil Rights Act;
2. The relief sought by the State would constitute an impermissible restriction on Mr. Ingalls's speech rights that are afforded to him by the First Amendment; and
3. The salient provision of the Maine Civil Rights Act is unconstitutionally vague on its face.

         III. Analysis

         A. The Complaint sets forth allegations for which relief may be granted under 5 M.R.S. §§ 4681 and 4684-B.

         The Maine Civil Rights Act empowers the Attorney General to bring an injunction action against a person who violates section 4684-B, entitled "Additional Protections." The relevant section of the "Additional Protections" section of the Act that the State presses, provides as follows:

2. Violation. It is a violation of this section for any person, whether or not acting under color of law, to intentionally interfere or attempt to intentionally interfere with the exercise or enjoyment by any other person of rights secured by the Untied States Constitution or the laws of the United States or of rights secured ...

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