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Richard D. Davis v. Folsom Cordova Unified School District

February 21, 2012

RICHARD D. DAVIS, III, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FOLSOM CORDOVA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

This matter came before the court on August 26, 2011, for hearing of defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff Richard Davis, who is proceeding pro se in this action, appeared on his own behalf. Attorney Lynn Garcia appeared on behalf of defendants. Oral argument was heard, and defendants' motion was taken under submission.

Upon consideration of the briefing on file, the parties' arguments at the hearing, and the entire file, the court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss. However, in light of the plaintiff's pro se status and for the reasons set forth below, the court will also grant plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to attempt to state a cognizable claim.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff commenced this action on May 9, 2011, by paying the required filing fee and filing his original complaint. (Doc. No. 1.) On June 3, 2011, before a responsive pleading had been filed, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 8.)) Therein, plaintiff alleges that defendant Folsom Cordova Unified School District, ("District"), and twelve individuals employed by the District, who are also named as defendants, discriminated and retaliated against plaintiff and his daughter with respect to his daughter's participation as a cheerleader at Vista del Lago High School.*fn1 The amended complaint alleges causes of action for retaliation under Title IX, violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and a First Amendment retaliation claim. (Id. at 1-2.*fn2

On June 27, 2011, counsel for defendants filed the motion to dismiss now pending before the court. (MTD (Doc. No. 18.)) Plaintiff filed his opposition on July 19, 2011, (Pl.'s Opp.'n (Doc. No. 20)), and defendants filed a reply on August 19, 2011. (Reply (Doc. No. 25.))

LEGAL STANDARDS APPLICABLE TO DEFENDANT'S MOTION

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. North Star Int'l v. Arizona Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). Dismissal of the complaint, or any claim within it, "can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). See also Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984). Thus, the court may dismiss a complaint or any claim within it as frivolous where the claim is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). The critical inquiry is whether a claim, even if inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227 (9th Cir. 1984). As the Supreme Court has explained, in order to state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the court accepts as true the material allegations in the complaint and construes those allegations, as well as the reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court also resolves doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the court may disregard allegations in the complaint that are contradicted by facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint. Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987). In addition, the court need not accept as true conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981).

ANALYSIS

I. Rule 8

The minimum requirements for a civil complaint in federal court are as follows: A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief . . . shall contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends . . . , (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief the pleader seeks.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).

Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claims and must allege facts that state the elements of each claim plainly and succinctly. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertions' devoid of 'further factual enhancements.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ---, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). A plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which the defendants engaged in that support the plaintiff's ...


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