The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable David O. Carter, Judge
Julie Barrera Not Present Courtroom Clerk Court Reporter
ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR PLAINTIFFS: ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR DEFENDANTS:
NONE PRESENT NONE PRESENT
PROCEEDING (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO STRIKE
Before the Court is Defendant Capistrano Unified School District's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss the First, Second, and Third Causes of Action and Motion to Strike Certain Prayers for Relief. (Dkt. 5). The Court finds this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15. After considering the moving, opposing and replying papers, and for the reasons stated below, the Court hereby GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Motion.
Plaintiff, C.W., a minor, brought this action against Defendant, by and through her mother, K.S., appealing the Decision of the California Office of Administrative Hearings Special Education Division ("OAH"), and also alleging violations of the Intimidation Clause of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12203(b), the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Plaintiff is a child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. (Compl. ¶ 11.) Specifically, Plaintiff has cerebral palsy and a ventriculoperitoneal shunt, resulting in the need for special education and related services. (Id.)
In January 2011, Defendant conducted an occupational therapy assessment of Plaintiff. ¶ 12.) Following this assessment, Plaintiff concluded that the assessment was inappropriate and not in compliance with the law. (Id.) Plaintiff then demanded an independent educational evaluation ("IEE") for occupational therapy, under 34 C.F.R. § 300.502(b). (Id.) In response, Defendant chose not to provide the IEE, but instead exercised its right to file a Request for Due Process Hearing with the OAH wherein Defendant sought to establish that its assessment of Plaintiff was appropriate. (Id. ¶ 13.)
On May 10, 2011, the OAH issued its decision, concluding that Defendant's assessment was appropriate. (Id. ¶ 15.) After reviewing the decision, Plaintiff decided to appeal. Before filing the instant suit, Plaintiff contacted Defendant, through counsel, as an attempt to exhaust any possibility of
Id. ¶ 16.) In response, Defendant sent a letter indicating that if Plaintiff chose to appeal, Defendant would seek sanctions against Plaintiff and counsel for filing the frivolous appeal. (Id. ¶ 16.) Defendant concluded that the appeal would be frivolous because Plaintiff did not introduce any evidence before the OAH regarding the need for occupational therapy. However, Plaintiff points out that Defendant had the burden of proof at the OAH hearing. (Id. ¶ 17.)
On August 3, 2011, Plaintiff filed the instant suit, appealing the OAH decision and alleging three new claims based on the letter from Defendant's counsel wherein counsel reserved the right to seek sanctions against Plaintiff for filing a frivolous appeal. Plaintiff's ADA claim is based on Defendant's alleged interference, in the form of threats and intimidation, with the right to make a charge, participate in legal proceedings, or otherwise seek legal redress. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff's § 1983 claim is based on retaliation in violation of the Petition clause of the First Amendment. (Id. ¶ 26.) Plaintiff's § 504 claim is based on Defendant's interference with the protected activity of advocating for the services and assessments to which Plaintiff is entitled. (Id. ¶ 32.)
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed when a plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal for failure to state a claim does not require the appearance, beyond a doubt, that the plaintiff can prove "no set of facts" in support of its claim that would entitle it to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1968 (2007) (abrogating Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). In order for a complaint to survive a 12(b)(6) motion, it must state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009). A claim for relief is facially plausible when the plaintiff pleads enough facts that, when taken as true, allow a court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged conduct. Id. at 1949. If the facts only allow a court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is possibly liable, then the complaint must be dismissed. Id. Mere legal conclusions need not be accepted as true and do not establish a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task requiring the court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id.