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Emory Boyd, Jr., Quinton Hancock, and Nicholos Page v. Feather River Community College District

October 20, 2011

EMORY BOYD, JR., QUINTON HANCOCK, AND NICHOLOS PAGE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
FEATHER RIVER COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT, MERLE TRUEBLOOD, JOSH WHITE, AND JAMES JOHNSON, DEFENDANTS.



ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS‟ MOTION TO DISMISS

This matter is before the Court on Defendants‟ Feather River Community College District ("FRC"), James Johnson ("Johnson"), Merle Trueblood ("Trueblood") and Joshua White ("White") (collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #12) Plaintiffs‟ Emory Boyd, J.R. ("Boyd"), Quinton Hancock ("Hancock") and Nicholos Page ("Page") (collectively "Plaintiffs") First Amended Complaint ("FAC") (Doc. #7). Defendants seek to dismiss the FAC for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Plaintiffs oppose the motion (Doc. #15). For the reasons set 2 forth below, Defendants‟ motion is DENIED.*fn1

I. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

This action arises from allegations of racial 6 discrimination against African American football players at FRC. 7

Plaintiffs are African American, and allege that they were 8 recruited to play football on the FRC football team, paid out-9 of-state tuition, and did all that was required of them to participate in FRC‟s athletic program as members of the football team. Am. Compl., ¶¶ 10-13.

The FAC alleges that Plaintiffs knew that many players previously on the team received athletic scholarships to four year colleges, and Plaintiffs understood that upon successful completions of the FRC program (both academically and on the football field) they would receive the best efforts of the football coaching staff to place them at four year colleges with scholarships. Am. Compl., ¶ 17. However, the FAC alleges that Plaintiffs suffered racially discriminatory treatment from White (the Assistant Coach), including being unfairly criticized, personally insulted, verbally abused, and taunted. Am. Compl., ¶ 20. Plaintiffs allege that Johnson (the Head Coach) and White favored less committed and less skilled white players over their African American counterparts, gave white players more playing time and more opportunities on the field, and treated them in a more favorable and less hostile manner. Am. Compl., ¶ 19. The FAC alleges that White‟s racist behavior went so far as to 2 include physical attacks on African American students, Am. 3 Compl., ¶ 22, calling African American students derogatory 4 names, Am. Compl., ¶ 25, and attempting to provoke fights with 5 them. Id. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that Trueblood (the 6 FRC Athletic Director) and Johnson were made aware of White‟s 7 racially hostile conduct, but failed to take corrective action.

Am. Compl., ¶ 21. Instead, between 2009-2010, Defendants 9 changed FRC‟s football team from predominantly black to predominantly white, Am. Compl., ¶¶ 44-50, and in the course of doing so unfairly cut Plaintiffs from the football team in order to replace them with white players. Am. Compl., ¶ 48. Plaintiffs allege that they were eligible both academically and athletically to return to play football for FRC in the 2010-2011 season. Am. Compl., ¶ 38. Plaintiffs bring claims for violation of Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief, compensatory, economic, and punitive damages, and attorneys‟ fees. Defendants move to dismiss all of Plaintiffs‟ claims in the FAC, for failure to plead sufficient facts to support the claims.

II. OPINION

A. Legal Standard

A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), 2 overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 3 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). Assertions that 4 are mere "legal conclusions," however, are not entitled to the 5 assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 6 (2009), (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 7 555 (2007)). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff needs 8 to plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is 9 plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Dismissal is appropriate where the plaintiff fails to state a claim supportable by a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Department, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

Upon granting a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court has discretion to allow leave to amend the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). "Dismissal with prejudice and without leave to amend is not appropriate unless it is clear . . . that the complaint could not be saved by amendment." Eminence Capital, L.L.C. v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003).

B. Claims for Relief

1. Violation of Title VI- Racially Hostile Educational Environment

The first claim for relief, brought against FRC, asserts that Plaintiffs were subjected to a racially hostile educational environment, in violation of Title VI, and that FRC did not take steps to end the harassment. Defendants argue that the claim should be dismissed because Plaintiffs failed to plead facts showing that they were harassed because of their race. Further Defendants contend that the allegations of the FAC do not show 2 severe or pervasive harassment, rather, the decision to drop 3 certain players from the team, or give certain players more time 4 on the field, are personnel management decisions, not instances 5 of discrimination. Lastly, Defendants argue that there are no 6 ...


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