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Chadam v. Palo Alto Unified School District

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 29, 2014

JAMES CHADAM and JENNIFER CHADAM, individually and on behalf of their minor children A.C. and C.C., Plaintiffs,
v.
PALO ALTO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, a governmental entity created and existing under the laws of the State of California, Defendants,

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS (DOCKET NO. 18)

CLAUDIA WILKEN, District Judge.

Defendant Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' first amended complaint (1AC). Plaintiffs James Chadam and Jennifer Chadam, individually and on behalf of their minor children A.C. and C.C., oppose the motion. Having considered the papers submitted, the Court GRANTS PAUSD's motion to dismiss, but permits Plaintiffs to amend their complaint.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are alleged in the complaint and taken as true for the purposes of this motion.

James and Jennifer Chadam reside in Palo Alto, California with A.C. and C.C., their minor children. 1AC ¶ 1. On July 22, 2012, Jennifer Chadam enrolled her sons A.C. and C.C. in a middle school owned and operated by PAUSD. Id . ¶ 6. She completed forms for enrollment, including a "Report of Health Examination for School Entry" regarding C.C. Id . ¶ 7. This form included "private, personal and privileged medical information." Id . PAUSD assigned both children to attend the middle school closest to their home. Id . ¶ 8. Between August 2, 2012, and August 16, 2012, the Chadams provided additional medical information regarding C.C. Id . ¶ 9. On August 16, 2012, A.C. and C.C. began attending their assigned middle school. Id . ¶ 10.

On or about September 11, 2012, during a parent-teacher conference, one of C.C.'s teachers disclosed C.C.'s private medical information to parents of another student attending the middle school (Mr. and Mrs. X). Id . ¶ 11. The teacher did so with no prior permission or notice from the Chadams. Id.

On September 11, 2012, PAUSD arranged for the Chadams to attend a meeting with Gregory Barnes, the middle school's principal, along with the PAUSD District Nurse and Grant Althouse, the Vice Principal and Administrator of sixth grade. Id . ¶ 12. At the meeting, the Chadams were told that the children of Mr. and Mrs. X had an active disease and that Mr. and Mrs. X had "discovered C.C.'s condition.'" Id.

On September 17, 2012, the Chadams received a call from Mr. Barnes informing them that, based on Mr. and Mrs. X's demands, and based on C.C.'s private medical information, PAUSD intended to prohibit C.C. from attending the middle school he was enrolled at and to transfer him to another PAUSD middle school. Id . ¶ 13. On October 1, 2012, the Chadams received a letter from Charles Young, PAUSD Assistant Superintendent, ordering the transfer of C.C. to another middle school. Id . ¶ 14.

On October 12, 2012, the Chadams brought suit in California state court seeking to enjoin PAUSD from transferring C.C. to another middle school. Id . ¶ 16. The parties settled the case, with PAUSD agreeing to permit C.C. to stay at the same middle school. Id.

On September 6, 2013, Plaintiffs brought the present suit in federal court, alleging (1) violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., (the ADA), through 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1972, 29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq., through 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (3) violation of the federal right to privacy conferred by the First Amendment.

LEGAL STANDARDS

A complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The plaintiff must proffer "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, the court will take all material allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Metzler Inv. GMBH v. Corinthian Colls., Inc. , 540 F.3d 1049, 1061 (9th Cir. 2008). The court's review is limited to the face of the complaint, materials incorporated into the complaint by reference, and facts of which the court may take judicial notice. Id. at 1061. However, the court need not accept legal conclusions, including "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555).

When granting a motion to dismiss, the court is generally required to grant the plaintiff leave to amend, even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless amendment would be futile. Cook, Perkiss & Liehe, Inc. v. N. Cal. Collection Serv. Inc. , 911 F.2d 242, 246-47 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether amendment would be futile, the court examines whether the complaint could be amended to cure the defect requiring dismissal "without contradicting ...


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