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D.C., By and Through His Parent and Guardian v. Oakdale Joint Unified School District

November 17, 2011

D.C., BY AND THROUGH HIS PARENT AND GUARDIAN AD LITEM, T.C. AND T.C. INDIVIDUALLY,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
OAKDALE JOINT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

[Doc. #11]

INTRODUCTION

On July 1, 2011, Plaintiff D.C., a minor, by and through his parent, T.C. and T.C. individually (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed a Complaint against the Oakdale Joint Unified School District ("the District") and several of its employees. In their Complaint, Plaintiffs bring claims under (1) the Individuals with Disabilities Education and Improvement Act ("IDEA"); (2) the Americans with Disabilities Act; (3) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and (4) 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On August 17, 2011, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

In their motion, Defendants seek to dismiss Plaintiffs' second and third causes of action, arguing that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as required by IDEA. The Ninth Circuit has recently clarified that IDEA's exhaustion requirement is not jurisdictional, but is an affirmative defense that can be raised in an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss. Payne v. Peninsula Sch. Dist., 653 F.3d 863, 881 (9th Cir. 2011). The Court will therefore address the substance of Defendants' motion as if it were pled as an affirmative defense pursuant to an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss. In addition, in their supplemental brief, Defendants seek to dismiss Plaintiffs' second cause of action based on mootness. The Court will address this argument as if it were pled pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion will be granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

A. Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss

Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. "It is a fundamental precept that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. The limits upon federal jurisdiction, whether imposed by the Constitution or by Congress, must not be disregarded nor evaded." Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978). A challenge to jurisdiction "can be either facial, confining the inquiry to allegations in the complaint, or factual, permitting the court to look beyond the complaint." Savage v. Glendale Union High Sch., Dist. No. 205, Maricopa Cnty., 343 F.3d 1036, 1039 n.2 (9th Cir. 2003). Thus, the Court is not restricted to the face of the pleadings and "may review any evidence, such as affidavits and testimony, to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of jurisdiction." McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). Furthermore, when subject matter jurisdiction is challenged under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction in order to survive the motion. Stock West, Inc. v. Confederated Tribes, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir. 1989).

B. Unenumerated Rule 12(b) Motion to Dismiss

Exhaustion under IDEA can be raised as an affirmative defense in an unenumerated Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss. Payne, 653 F.3d at 881. "Generally, in entertaining an unenumerated motion to dismiss, 'the court may look beyond the pleadings and decide disputed issues of fact.'" Id. (citation omitted). The Court may therefore decide disputed issues of fact to the extent they are necessary in deciding whether a plaintiff has adequately exhausted available administrative remedies. Id. "Unlike a judgment on the merits, a plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies should result in a dismissal without prejudice." Id. (citation omitted).

DISCUSSION

1. Plaintiffs' second cause of action is moot.

In their second cause of action, Plaintiffs bring a claim pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Plaintiffs allege that D.C. has a qualified disability under the ADA and was discriminated against by the District and its employees when Defendants used unnecessary and harmful restraint techniques against D.C. Complaint at ¶ 55. Plaintiffs clarify in their supplemental brief that the sole relief Plaintiffs are seeking in their second cause of action is an injunction to stop the continued use of unnecessary and harmful restraint techniques. Plaintiffs' supplemental brief at 2, Doc. 29 at 2. Plaintiffs also state in their supplemental brief that D.C. no longer resides within the boundaries of the District. Id. at 4, Doc. 29 at 4.

Defendants argue in their supplemental brief that Plaintiffs' second cause of action is moot. Defendants' supplemental brief at 5, Doc. 30 at 5. Defendants contend that since Plaintiffs admit that they no longer live within the boundaries of the District, the second cause of action is moot because there is no longer a live case or controversy. Id.

"A federal court's Article III power to hear disputes extends only to live cases or controversies. A request for injunctive relief remains live only so long as there is some present harm left to enjoin." C.F. v. Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist., 647 F. Supp. 2d 1187, 1195 (C.D. Cal. 2009) (citations omitted). "Past exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself show a present case or controversy regarding injunctive relief . . . if unaccompanied by any continuing, present adverse effects." Renne v. Geary, 501 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1991). ...


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