they have assembled a motley assortment of arguments, all nominally united under an Eleventh Amendment banner. With some effort, the Court has been able to divide defendants' troops into two more jurisprudentially recognizable camps.
The scope of § 1983 and the scope of the Eleventh Amendment are separate issues. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66, 105 L. Ed. 2d 45, 109 S. Ct. 2304 (1989). With respect to the former, it is now well-settled that a state is not a "person" within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and thus may not properly be named as a defendant in a § 1983 action. Id. at 64. This principle also-extends to state agencies, and to state officers named in their official capacities. Id. at 71. There is, however, one significant exception to the general rule: thanks to the legal fiction established by the Supreme Court in Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60, 28 S. Ct. 441, 52 L. Ed. 714 (1908), a state official is a "person" within the meaning of § 1983 if she is sued for injunctive relief in her official capacity. Will, 491 U.S. at 71 n.10.
The Eleventh Amendment, on the other hand, embodies a more general principle, one that extends well beyond the boundaries of § 1983. As a general rule, the Eleventh Amendment bars all suits brought in federal court against states and their agencies in the absence of consent by the state or express abrogation by Congress within its authority. See Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 116 S. Ct. 1114, 1122-23, 134 L. Ed. 2d 252 (1996). Neither party suggests that California has consented to the instant suit, and it is well-settled that § 1983 itself did not abrogate the Eleventh Amendment immunity of the states. See Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341, 59 L. Ed. 2d 358, 99 S. Ct. 1139 (1979). Despite the lack of state consent and congressional abrogation, however, the Ex parte Young doctrine lifts the Eleventh Amendment's jurisdictional bar for federal suits seeking prospective relief against state officials acting in their official capacities. See Idaho v. Coeur d' Alene Tribe of Idaho, 138 L. Ed. 2d 438, 117 S. Ct. 2028, 2046 (1997) (O'Connor, J., concurring);
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 101-03, 79 L. Ed. 2d 67, 104 S. Ct. 900 (1984). The Ex parte Young exception applies only where the state officials are allegedly violating federal law;
it does not reach suits seeking relief against state officials for violations of state law. Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 106.
With these general principles in mind, the Court now tests the specific claims brought by plaintiffs against the State Defendants.
b. IDEA, ADA, and Section 504 claims
First, the Court evaluates plaintiffs' claims under the IDEA, the ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Each of these statutes includes an express, unequivocal abrogation of Eleventh Amendment immunity. See 20 U.S.C. § 1403 (IDEA); 42 U.S.C. § 12202 (ADA); 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-7(a)(1) (Section 504). At one time, this express statutory language would have ended the inquiry. After the Supreme Court opinion in Seminole Tribe, however, a court must go on to ask "whether Congress has acted pursuant to a valid exercise of power." Seminole Tribe, 116 S. Ct. at 1123. With respect to this question, the Court concludes that these abrogations were enacted pursuant to Congress' powers under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and thus were enacted pursuant to a valid exercise of power. See Seminole Tribe, 116 S. Ct. at 1125 (§ 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment empowers Congress to abrogate state immunity); Clark v. California, 123 F.3d 1267, 1997 WL 525518, at *2 (9th Cir. 1997) (abrogation under ADA and Section 504 is valid pursuant to § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment); Peter v. Johnson, 958 F. Supp. 1383, 1394 (D. Minn. 1997) (abrogation under IDEA is valid pursuant to § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment). Accordingly, plaintiffs' claims under the IDEA, the ADA, and Section 504 may be maintained against the State Defendants without running afoul of the Eleventh Amendment.
c. § 1983 claims
Plaintiffs are also proceeding against each of the State Defendants under § 1983, alleging violations of the Constitution, the IDEA, the ADA, and Section 504.
The § 1983 cause of action, however, must be dismissed in its entirety against the CDE, as it is a state agency and thus cloaked by Eleventh Amendment immunity. See Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 146, 121 L. Ed. 2d 605, 113 S. Ct. 684 (1993) (Ex parte Young doctrine "has no application in suits against the States and their agencies"). With respect to plaintiffs' § 1983 claim against the remaining State Defendants, all state officials, the Court holds that, insofar as plaintiffs' § 1983 claim seeks retrospective relief, it must be dismissed because state officials in their official capacities are not "persons" within the meaning of § 1983. See Will, 491 U.S. at 71. Section 1983, however, permits plaintiffs to maintain their claim against the named state officials in their official capacity insofar as it seeks prospective injunctive relief. Id. at 71 n.10 (a state official acting in her official capacity is a "person" under § 1983). The Eleventh Amendment, moreover, does not bar this aspect of plaintiffs' § 1983 claim. See Coeur d' Alene, 117 S. Ct. at 2045-47 (the Ex parte Young exception is available where a plaintiff alleges an ongoing violation of federal law and seeks only prospective relief). Plaintiffs, furthermore, may proceed with their § 1983 claim against the named state officials in their individual capacities for both retrospective and prospective relief. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 31, 116 L. Ed. 2d 301, 112 S. Ct. 358 (1991) ("State officials, sued in their individual capacities, are 'persons' within the meaning of § 1983. The Eleventh Amendment does not bar such suits...."); Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 472-73 (9th Cir. 1992).
d. Pendant state law claims
"A state law claim pendant to a federal law claim that survives eleventh amendment analysis must itself be subjected to eleventh amendment scrutiny." Id. at 473. Here, plaintiffs have asserted a number of state law claims against the State Defendants, as set forth in their Fourth and Fifth Causes of Action.
As against the CDE and the state officials named in their official capacities, these claims cannot survive Eleventh Amendment scrutiny. See Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 106. The Eleventh Amendment, however, has no application where state officials are sued in their individual capacities. See Pena, 976 F.2d at 473. Thus, to the extent the named state officials are being sued in their individual capacities, the Eleventh Amendment does not bar plaintiffs' pendant state law claims.
In summary, plaintiffs' Fourth and Fifth Causes of Action are HEREBY DISMISSED as against the CDE and as against the named state officials in their official capacities.
4. Adequacy of ADA and Section 504 claims
In support of their ADA and Section 504 claims, plaintiffs allege that the State Defendants have failed to monitor Ravenswood's compliance with state and federal laws that mandate the provision of a FAPE to all children with disabilities, have failed to adequately investigate complaints regarding Ravenswood, and have failed to enforce the directives generated by CDE investigations. Responding to these allegations in a cryptic one-page passage in their moving papers, the State Defendants argue that plaintiffs' Section 504 and ADA claims must be dismissed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), because the complaint is lacking in "allegations of discrimination."
This argument, totally unsupported by case or statutory authority, leaves the Court a bit perplexed.
While Section 504 and the ADA certainly may be loosely referred to as "anti-discrimination" statutes, it is the regulations enacted pursuant to the acts that define the prohibited conduct. According to those regulations, a recipient of federal aid "discriminates" on the basis of disability when it aids or perpetuates discrimination by providing significant assistance to another entity that in turn discriminates. 34 C.F.R. § 104.4(b)(1)(v) (Section 504); 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(1)(v) (ADA). A recipient of federal funds also discriminates when it utilizes a method of administration that has the effect of subjecting those with disabilities to discrimination. 34 C.F.R. § 104.4(b)(4) (Section 504); 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(3) (ADA). Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that Ravenswood violates Section 504 and the ADA in a variety of ways, and that the conduct of the State Defendants has perpetuated this discrimination. These allegations of "discrimination," as that term is defined by the Section 504 and ADA regulations, satisfy the liberal federal pleading requirements. Accordingly, the State Defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' ADA and Section 504 claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is HEREBY DENIED.
In summary, for the reasons set forth above, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:
(1) Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are HEREBY DISMISSED in their entirety as against the California Department of Education.
(2) Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are HEREBY DISMISSED, insofar as they seek retrospective monetary relief, as against Delaine Eastin, Joseph Carrabino, Marion McDowell, Katheryn Dronenburg, Dorathy Lee, S. William Malkasian, Kenneth Peters, David Romero, Joseph Stein, Gerty Thomas, and Paras Mehta in their official capacities.
(3) Plaintiffs' Fourth and Fifth Causes of Action are HEREBY DISMISSED in their entirety as against the California Department of Education.
(4) Plaintiffs' Fourth and Fifth Causes of Action are HEREBY DISMISSED in their entirety as against Delaine Eastin, Joseph Carrabino, Marion McDowell, Katheryn Dronenburg, Dorathy Lee, S. William Malkasian, Kenneth Peters, David Romero, Joseph Stein, Gerty Thomas, and Paras Mehta in their official capacities.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
THELTON E. HENDERSON, CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT