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Perez v. Apollo Education Group, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 18, 2014

APOLLO EDUCATION GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.


JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Carmen Dolores Perez ("Plaintiff") seeks to proceed pro se and in forma paupris with an action against Apollo Education Group, Inc., doing business as the University of Phoenix, and the MSC/ MFCT Counseling Department located at University of Phoenix. (Doc. 6 at 1.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend.[1]

I. Screening Requirement

When a plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis, the Court is required to review the complaint, and shall dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that the action is "frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or... seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2). The Court must screen the First Amended Complaint because an amended complaint supersedes the previously filed complaint. See Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987).

III. Pleading Standards

General rules for pleading complaints are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A complaint must include a statement affirming the court's jurisdiction, "a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief; and... a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, and pro se pleadings are held to "less stringent standards" than pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521-21 (1972).

A complaint must state the elements of the plaintiff's claims in a plain and succinct manner. Jones v. Cmty Redevel. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). The purpose of a complaint is to give the defendant fair notice of the claims against him, and the grounds upon which the complaint stands. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). The Supreme Court explained,

Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Conclusory and vague allegations do not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). The Court clarified further,

[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." [Citation]. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. [Citation]. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement, " but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. [Citation]. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'"

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citations omitted). When factual allegations are well-pled, a court should assume the truth and determine whether the facts would make the plaintiff entitled to relief; conclusions in the pleading are not entitled to the same assumption of truth. Id.

IV. Factual Allegations

Plaintiff asserts she was enrolled at the University of Phoenix and taking classes at its Bakersfield location. ( See Doc. 6 at 1-2.) She alleges that she took a "Portfolio I" course, which was required to enter the university's Masters in Science Counseling/Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy Program ("the Program") through which she could obtain a counseling degree. ( Id. at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that admittance into the Program "requires a Bachelor's Degree with at least a 2.5 GPA" and positive evaluations in at least two of the following areas: professional behavior, counseling skills, oral presentation skills, writing content, and writing mechanics. ( Id. at 2, 6, 10.)

The Portfolio I course was "a credit/no credit class, " which required the students to make an oral presentation. (Doc. 6 at 3, 8.) Plaintiff alleges that during the presentation, she mentioned being "placed in the 692 bldg, a high-risk barracks facility for suicidal and homicidal soldiers... in order to make [her] point about why [she] wanted to help soldiers." ( Id. at 4.) In addition, she showed images "of wounded warriors with missing limbs (who had received medical ...

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