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J.F. v. New Haven Unified School District

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 22, 2014

J.F., a minor, by her Guardian ad litem CHERISE ABEL-IRBY, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW HAVEN UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.

ORDER RE MOTION TO DISMISS

SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge

Now before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's first amended complaint. This matter is scheduled for hearing on April 25, 2014. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court determines that this matter is appropriate for resolution without oral argument and VACATES the hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the defendants' motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

This case stems from problems between plaintiff, minor student J.F., and the defendants, her high school and several of its staff members. In 2012, plaintiff was a student at James Logan High School in the New Haven Unified School District. First Amended Complaint ("FAC") ¶ 13. Plaintiff suffers from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD"), for which she takes daily medication. Id. ¶ 2.

Plaintiff's FAC makes the following allegations regarding incidents at her school. First, that defendant Higgerson, one of plaintiff's teachers, permitted other students in plaintiff's class to sit apart from plaintiff if manifestations of her ADHD bothered them. Id. ¶ 16. Second, that on October 19, 2012, defendant Pando, another of plaintiff's teachers, blocked plaintiff from entering his classroom. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff alleges that Pando physically pushed her away from the door, causing her to fall to the ground. Id. A school security officer came to collect plaintiff and took her to the school office, causing her to miss class that day. Id. Third, that on October 26, 2012, plaintiff, along with two other students, was involved in a fight on school grounds. ¶ 5. Defendant Brar, the school principal, broke up the fight by approaching plaintiff from behind and grabbing her arm. Id. ¶ 28.[1] Plaintiff responded by striking out and hitting Brar. Id. Brar placed plaintiff in a "full body bear hold" to restrain her. Id. Defendant Perry, a campus security technician, arrived and assisted Brar. Id. Plaintiff was suspended from school for hitting Brar, and was subsequently expelled. See id. ¶ 19.

In February, 2013, the school district determined that the October 26, 2012 incident was not a manifestation of plaintiff's ADHD. Id. Ex. A at 9. Plaintiff appealed this determination. On May 20, 2013, an ALJ affirmed the school district's determination. Id. at 22. On August 16, 2013, plaintiff filed her original complaint in this Court. On January 22, 2014, the Court granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. On February 24, 2014, plaintiff filed her FAC, in which she alleges eight causes of action: (1) an appeal of her administrative due process hearing against the District; (2) a claim for attorney's fees; (3) claims for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress against all individual defendants; (4) a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of her Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights against all individual defendants; (5) a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") against all defendants; (6) a claim under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 against all defendants; (7) a claim under the Unruh Civil Rights Act against all defendants; and (8) a claim for assault and battery against defendants Brar, Pando, and Perry.

The defendants now move to dismiss portions of Counts Three through Eight of plaintiff's FAC.

LEGAL STANDARD

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This "facial plausibility" standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up to "more than a sheer possibility that a Defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While courts do not require "heightened fact pleading of specifics, " a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544, 555. "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id.

In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See al -Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009), reversed and remanded on other grounds sub nom. Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 131 S.Ct. 2074 (2011). However, a district court is not required to accept as true "allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). As a general rule, the Court may not consider any materials beyond the pleadings when ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001). However, pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201, the Court may take judicial notice of "matters of public record, " such as prior court proceedings, without thereby transforming the motion into a motion for summary judgment. Id. If the Court dismisses a complaint, it must decide whether to grant leave to amend. The Ninth Circuit has "repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

DISCUSSION

The defendants move to dismiss portions of Counts Three through Eight of plaintiff's FAC for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Additionally, the defendants contend that plaintiff improperly amended her complaint by inserting entirely new claims for which she failed to seek leave, and therefore these new claims should be dismissed. The Court will discuss the issue of improper amendment first, and then address each cause of action.

1. Improper Amendment.

The Court's prior Order granted plaintiff leave to amend her § 1983 causes of action to include claims brought under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the ADA. See Dkt. No. 40 at 8 n.4. Instead, plaintiff added entirely new causes of action based on alleged violations of these statutes. Plaintiff further added a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a § 1983 claim against Higgerson, and an Unruh Civil Rights claim against the District. In her opposition to the instant motion, plaintiff apologizes for improperly amending her complaint, seeks leave to add these claims, and asks the Court to consider these claims despite their nonconformity with the Court's prior Order. Given the Ninth Circuit's liberal policy toward amendments, and in the interest of ...


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