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McCue v. South Fork Union Elementary School

October 8, 2010

MCCUE ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SOUTH FORK UNION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. 25).

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs proceed with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various Defendants. Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint ("SAC") on June 21, 2010. (Doc. 22). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the SAC on July 21, 2010. (Doc. 25). Plaintiffs filed opposition to the motion to dismiss on September 13, 2010. (Doc. 31). Defendants filed a reply on September 20, 2010. (Doc. 32).

II. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff P.M. was a student at South Fork Elementary School ("the School") at all times relevant to this action. Plaintiffs Lawrence and Darlene McCue are P.M.'s parents. Moving Defendants Shannon Damron, Sabine Mixion, Robin Shive, and Karen Zurin were teachers and administrators at the School all times relevant to this action.

P.M. is allergic to nuts. Beginning in December, 2006, Darlene and Lawrence began requesting accommodations for P.M.'s nut allergy from the School. Specifically, the McCues requested that the school consider not serving all food containing any nut products. Ultimately, the only accommodation offered by the School for P.M.'s second-grade year was that P.M. could eat his lunch in the school office.

On February 28, 2008, the School held an event where all of the schools students were present on the play ground at one time. During this event, P.M. was served a cookie containing peanut butter. P.M. had an allergic reaction to the cookie and required medical treatment. Plaintiffs subsequently contacted the State Board of Education to report the February 28, 2008 incident. The State Board of Education reprimanded Defendants Shive, Damron, Zurin, Mixion, and the School District.

According to the complaint, Shive and Zurin retaliated against Plaintiffs by making knowingly false statements to doctors at Mattel Children's Hospital to encourage filing of a report with Child Protective Services.*fn1 P.M. was subsequently removed from the McCue's custody. The morning after P.M. was removed from the McCue's custody, Shive called Plaintiff an intimated that she had caused P.M.'s removal in order to retaliate against the McCue's for reporting the cookie incident to the State Board of Education.

On March 10, 2008, Damron, P.M.s teacher, told her entire class that P.M. had been taken by Child Protective Services, would not be returning to school, and was safe. Later that afternoon, the McCue's began receiving phone calls from the parents of P.M.'s classmates to inquire about P.M.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate where the complaint lacks sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.1990). To sufficiently state a claim to relief and survive a 12(b) (6) motion, the pleading "does not need detailed factual allegations" but the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Mere "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. Rather, there must be "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. In other words, the "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).

The Ninth Circuit has summarized the governing standard, in light of Twombly and Iqbal, as follows: "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir.2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Apart from factual insufficiency, a complaint is also subject to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) where it lacks a cognizable legal theory, Balistreri, 901 F.2d at 699, or where the allegations on their face "show that relief is barred" for some legal reason, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215, 127 S.Ct. 910, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007).

In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all "well-pleaded factual allegations" in the pleading under attack. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. A court is not, however, "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.2001). "When ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, if a district court considers evidence outside the pleadings, it must normally convert the 12(b)(6) motion into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment, and it must give the nonmoving party an opportunity to respond." United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 907 (9th Cir. 2003). "A court may, however, consider certain materials-documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice-without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment." Id. at 908.

IV. DISCUSSION.

A. Plaintiff's Seventh Cause ...


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