United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF Nos. 17, 18, 19, 22, 23)
STANLEY A. BOONE, District Judge.
Plaintiff Heidi G. Shamp ("Plaintiff Shamp") brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of herself and as guardian ad litem for her minor children, H. S., A. S. and K. S ("minor children"). Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiffs filed the complaint in this action on March 20, 2014, against Defendants AQUA EMPS Booster Club ("AQUA EMPS"), James Lamb, Erika Hunter, Lizz Marroquin, and Dinuba Unified School District ("DUSD") alleging denial of equal access, equal opportunity, and equal protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and state law claims. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants filed a motion to dismiss and request for judicial notice on June 3, 2014. (ECF Nos. 17-19.) On June 5, 2014, District Judge Anthony W. Ishii referred the motion to the undersigned. (ECF No. 20.) Plaintiffs filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss on June 19, 2014. (ECF No. 22.) Defendants filed a reply on June 30, 2014. (ECF No. 23.)
The Court heard oral arguments on July 9, 2014. Counsel Michael G. Karby appeared for Plaintiffs and counsel Anthony N. DeMaria appeared for Defendants. Having considered the moving, opposition and reply papers, and arguments presented at the July 9, 2014 hearing, as well as the Court's file, the Court issues the following findings and recommendations.
Plaintiff Heidi Shamp is the biological mother of Plaintiffs H.S, A.S. and K.S. (Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1.) Defendant AQUA EMPS is a nonprofit California corporation that has operated a summer recreation program in the City of Dinuba through an unknown contractual arrangement with Defendant DUSD in which the swimming pool at Dinuba High School is used for summer swimming activities. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Defendants Lamb, Hunter, and Marroquin are officers of Defendant AQUA EMPS. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-7.)
About April 16, 2013, Plaintiff Shamp submitted a registration form and payment to enroll her minor children in the AQUA EMPS summer swimming program which was rejected. (Id. at ¶ 12.) On April 17, 2013, Plaintiff Shamp wrote a letter to Defendant Lamb returning the registration form and payment and requesting that her minor children be enrolled in the swimming program or a written explanation for why they were denied the opportunity to participate. (Id. at ¶ 13.) About May 7, 2013, the registration form and payment were returned. (Id. at ¶ 14.)
On May 20, 2013, a public meeting of the AQUA EMPS Board of Directors was held. Plaintiffs arrived to attend the meeting and were told to leave. After Plaintiff Shamp told Defendant Lamb that this was a public meeting and his behavior was unacceptable; she, her husband, and her minor children were allowed to attend the meeting. (Id. at ¶ 16.) During the meeting, Defendant Lamb announced that the minor children were not going to be allowed to participate in the summer swim program because Plaintiff Shamp was a disruption to the organization. (Id.) When attendees at the meeting stated that the minor children should not be punished without justification, Defendant Lamb did not provide any justification for denying the minor children from participating in the swim program. (Id.)
Plaintiffs allege that AQUA EMPS has not maintained the required minutes of board meetings or other documents to authorize the actions taken by the officers. (Id. at ¶ 18.) Plaintiffs further allege that officers of AQUA EMPS have made false statements to parents involved in the swim program that Plaintiff Shamp has been disruptive and her actions violated the Central Valley Recreational Swim League guidelines for parent conduct. (Id. at ¶ 19.)
Plaintiffs bring this action against Defendant Lamb in his individual and official capacity and against all other defendants in their official capacities alleging denial of equal protection under the United States Constitution and Article I, sections I and 7(a) of the California Constitution, California Civil Code section 51, and defamation under California law seeking monetary damages.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may file a motion to dismiss on the grounds that a complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." 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)(2). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In assessing the sufficiency of a complaint, all well-pleaded factual allegations must be accepted as true. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678-79. However, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. at 678.
In deciding whether a complaint states a claim, the Ninth Circuit has found that two principles apply. First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth the allegations in the complaint "may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively." Starr v. Baca , 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Second, so that it is not unfair to require the defendant to be subjected to the expenses associated with discovery and continued litigation, the factual allegations of the complaint, which are taken as true, must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief. Starr , 652 F.3d at 1216.