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Alexander v. San Diego Unified School District

June 15, 2010

CHERIE ALEXANDER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT; JIM SOLO; COLLEEN CONAWAY; AND CHRIS MARA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge

ORDER: GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. Nos. 76, 87, & 85s)

Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. (Doc. No. 76.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED and this action is DISMISSED. Further, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the Order denying Plaintiff's motion to stay and her Motion to consolidate this matter with 08cv1818 are DENIED AS MOOT. (Doc. Nos. 85 & 87.)

BACKGROUND

In this Court's Order granting Defendants' prior motion to dismiss, it addressed the background facts of this case in detail. (Doc. No. 63 at 1--2.) The Court incorporates by reference that summary here.

On October 3, 2008, Plaintiff filed her Complaint, (Doc. No. 1) and amended that Complaint on June 19, 2009. (Doc. No. 45.) On July 6, 2009 Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which this Court granted on October 13, 2009. (Doc. Nos. 49 & 63 (Prior Order).) Plaintiff filed her Second Amended Complaint (SAC) on December 1, 2009. (Doc. No. 64.) Defendants filed the present motion to dismiss on March 9, 2010. (Doc. No. 76.) Plaintiff responded on March 26, 2010 and Defendants replied on April 5, 2010. (Doc. Nos. 80 & 83.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by motion the defense that the complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," generally referred to as a motion to dismiss. The Court evaluates whether a complaint states a cognizable legal theory and sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although Rule 8 "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' . . . it [does] demand[] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, -- US - , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In other words, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A claim is facially plausible when the facts pled "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). That is not to say that the claim must be probable, but there must be "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Facts "'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability" fall short of a plausible entitlement to relief. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, the Court need not accept as true "legal conclusions" contained in the complaint. Id. This review requires context-specific analysis involving the Court's "judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950 (citation omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id.

ANALYSIS

In reviewing Defendants' motion and the SAC, the Court must conclude that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim sufficient to defeat Defendants' motion to dismiss.

I. CLAIM PRECLUSION

Defendants' first argument, and the one to which they commit the most pages, is that Plaintiff's state law claims are barred by principles of claim preclusion. (Memo. ISO Motion at 1--8.) From Defendants' evidence, it appears that Plaintiff has filed six state law claims against various Defendants related to the underlying factual allegations in this lawsuit. (See id. at 2--3.) Based on this evidence, some of Plaintiff's state law claims are plainly precluded.

However, Defendants have not adequately briefed the issue to allow the Court to rule on this issue. Preclusion applies only to issues decided on their merits in previous litigation. See Blonder-Tongue Labs., Inc. v. Univ. of Ill. Found., 402 U.S. 313, 323--24 (1971). "'[A] former judgment is not a collateral estoppel on issues which might have been raised but were not; just as clearly it is a collateral estoppel on issues which were raised, even though some factual matters or legal arguments which could have been presented were not.'" Border Bus. Park, Inc. v. City of San Diego, 49 Cal. Rptr. 3d 259, 281 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006) (quoting Bleeck v. State Bd. of Optometry, 18 Cal. Rptr. 860, 869 (Cal. Ct. App. 1971)) (emphasis added). In light of this well established legal standard, Defendants' cursory argument that all of Plaintiff's claims are precluded is wrong. (Memo. ISO Motion at 6.)

In order to decide the preclusion issue here, Defendants would have to show the factual and legal claims made in the prior litigation and against which particular Defendants those claims were asserted. The short case synopses contained in Defendants' motion fails to do any of this. Defendants also neglect to show that the same factual and legal claims are being raised by Plaintiff against the same Defendants in the SAC. And the Court will not do Defendants' work for them by which claims are precluded and which are not.

II. TITLE VII, THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, AND THE REHABILITATION ACT

As she did in her first complaint, Plaintiff alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. (See SAC at 15--17.*fn1 ) Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination by, inter alia, an employer. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111(2), 12111(5), 12112. There are seven enumerated types of discrimination for purposes of the statute. 42 U.S.C. § 12112. As potentially relevant to Plaintiff's allegations, discrimination includes (1) limiting an employee in a way that adversely affects her opportunities because of her disability, (2) utilizing standards, criteria, or methods of administration that have the effect of discrimination on the basis of disability, (3) not making reasonable accommodations to known physical or mental limitations, (4) denying employment based on the ...


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