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Kline v. Cleveland County

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

November 5, 2019

LESLIE E. KLINE, on her own behalf and on behalf of B.A.W. and J.T.W., minors under the age of eighteen, and JEFFERY A. KLINE, on his own behalf, Plaintiffs,
v.
CLEVELAND COUNTY, a local government entity; KAREN PRITCHARD, former director of Cleveland County Department of Social Services, in her official and individual capacities; KATIE SWANSON, director of Cleveland County Department of Social Services, in her official capacity; TAMARA HARDIN, Cleveland County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services social worker supervisor, in her official and individual capacities; PAM BRIGHT, former Cleveland County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services social worker supervisor, in her official and individual capacities; NICHOLE ALLEN, Cleveland County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services Social Worker, in her official and individual capacities; DEBI REECE, Cleveland County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services social worker, in her official and individual capacities; CHRISTOPHER LEE, Cleveland County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services social worker, in his official and individual capacities; and JOHNNY ANDERSON WHITE, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

          ORDER

          W. Carleton Metcalf United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on various procedural motions, described below. The Court held a hearing on these motions, as well as a general status conference in this matter, on October 30, 2019. Appearing at the hearing were attorneys Rebecca McNerney (on behalf of Plaintiffs), Martha Thompson (on behalf of Defendants Cleveland County, Prichard, Swanson, Hardin, Bright, Allen, Reese, and Lee[1]), and Mark Kurdys (on behalf of Defendant White).

         1. Motion to Seal Documents (Doc. 35)

         On October 1, 2019, the Individual Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 34) and a Motion to Seal Documents (Doc. 35) (“Motion to Seal”). The Motion to Seal requests the sealing of certain documents submitted in support of the Motion to Dismiss. Those exhibits have been filed under seal and appear on the docket at entry 36.

         The Court has considered the Motion to Seal, the public's interest in access to the subject filings, and alternatives to sealing. For the reasons stated in the Motion to Seal and on the record during the hearing, the Court determines that sealing is necessary, and that less restrictive means of handling the information are not sufficient. Accordingly, and without objection from Plaintiffs or Defendant White, the Individual Defendants' Motion to Seal Documents (Doc. 35) is GRANTED, and the documents appearing at docket entry 36 shall remain sealed until further order of the Court.

         2. Cleveland County's Motion to Amend the Rule 12 and 17 Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 42)

         The record indicates that Cleveland County was served with Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint on September 16, 2019, making an answer or other response due on or before October 7, 2019.

         On September 30, 2019, Cleveland County filed a motion seeking an extension of its answer deadline. (Doc. 32).

         Plaintiffs responded in opposition on October 1, 2019. (Doc. 33). Later that day, the Individual Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 34), a supporting memorandum (Doc. 37), a Motion to Seal Documents (Doc. 35), and the documents referenced by the Motion to Seal (Doc. 36). The Individual Defendants and Cleveland County also filed a separate Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 38) and a supporting memorandum (Doc. 39).

         On October 4, 2019, in light of the filing of the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 38) by the Individual Defendants and Cleveland County, the Court denied Cleveland County's pending motion for extension of time as moot.

         On October 8, 2019, Cleveland County filed the instant Motion to Amend the Rule 12 and 17 Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 42) and a supporting memorandum (Doc. 43).

         That same day, Cleveland County filed another Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 44), a supporting memorandum (Doc. 45), and an Answer (Doc. 46).

         Counsel for Cleveland County advises that Cleveland County was inadvertently shown as a movant with respect to the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Individual Defendants on October 1, 2019 (Doc. 38). Cleveland County now seeks, through its Motion to Amend, to be removed as a movant with respect to that Motion to Dismiss and to proceed with its stand-alone Motion to Dismiss filed on October 8, 2019 (Doc. 44).

         Defendant White takes no position with respect to the Motion to Amend, though counsel for Defendant White advises that his discussions with counsel for Cleveland County support her representation that the inclusion of ...


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