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Pantell v. Antioch Unified School District

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 20, 2015



PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.

Defendants' motions to dismiss the above-entitled action came on for hearing before this court on February 4, 2014. Plaintiff appeared by her counsel Andrea Tytell, and defendants appeared by their counsel Barbara Lyons. Having read the parties' papers and carefully considered their arguments and the relevant legal authority, the court hereby GRANTS the motions as follows.


Plaintiff AdriAnne Pantell brings this action as guardian ad litem for DP, asserting claims under federal and state disability and civil rights laws and common law tort claims. The defendants remaining in the case are Antioch Union School District ("AUSD"); Board of Education of the AUSD ("AUSD Board"); Dr. Donald Gill ("Gill"), Superintendent of AUSD; Tobinworld, a non-public school; Mike Williams ("Williams"), Vice President and Behaviorist for Tobinworld; Sara Forghani ("Forghani"), Principal of Tobinworld; Teresa Turner ("Turner"), Teacher at Tobinworld; and three Teacher's Aides at Tobinworld - Charee Mosley ("Mosley"), Ashley Curtin ("Curtin") and Stephanie Brown ("Brown").

DP, who is plaintiff's son, was born in October 2004. SAC ¶ 7. He suffers from an emotional disturbance that qualifies him for special education services. Id . Tobinworld, a California-certified, non-profit, non-public school that offers special education and behavioral services to profoundly disabled students, is located in Antioch, California. SAC ¶¶ 7, 13. Tobinworld was approved by AUSD to provide special education and related services to DP. Id.

DP was enrolled at Tobinworld for four weeks - from January 7 to February 1, 2013. SAC ¶ 29. Plaintiff alleges that during that time, DP was restrained, humiliated, and denied use of the bathroom, recess, and nourishment. Id . While plaintiff contends that these events occurred "on an almost daily basis, " the only two dates as to which any facts are alleged are Monday, January 28, 2013 and Friday, February 1, 2013. See SAC ¶¶ 29-30, 32-34, 36-42.

Plaintiff asserts that Turner, Curtin, Mosley, and Brown participated in all of the unwarranted restraints, instances of humiliation, and denial of bathroom privileges, recess, and nourishment, and that the restraints and denials were implemented and accomplished at Williams' direction. SAC ¶ 29. Plaintiff also alleges that the foregoing occurred "under the direction and/or with the knowledge of" Gill, Forghani, Williams, and Turner. SAC ¶¶ 34, 43. She claims that as a result of this treatment, DP suffered emotional distress, and physical injuries such as a bloody nose and bruises. SAC ¶ 33, 38.

Plaintiff asserts that "[d]]uring mid-January 2013" (approximately two weeks prior to the January 28th and February 1st incidents) she gave "actual notice and specific details" of the restraints and inappropriate interventions to AUSD, AUSD Board, Gill, and Forghani - each of whom, she alleges, "failed to intervene on behalf of DP to insure that he was safely educated and his bodily integrity preserved." SAC ¶ 43.

Plaintiff filed the original complaint on March 25, 2014. Defendants moved to dismiss; in response, plaintiff filed a first amended complaint ("FAC"). Three groups of defendants filed motions to dismiss, and on September 26, 2014, the court issued an order granting the motions in part and denying them in part.

On October 22, 2014, plaintiff filed the second amended complaint ("SAC"), asserting claims of (1) assault and battery (against Williams, Turner, Curtain, Mosley, Brown); (2) negligence (against Tobinworld, Forghani, Williams, and Turner); (3) violation of substantive due process, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (against Gill, in his individual capacity); (4) violation of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701, et seq. (against AUSD and AUSD Board); (5) violation of Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (against AUSD and AUSD Board); and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress (against Tobinworld, Forghani, Williams, Turner, Curtin, Mosley, and Brown).

Before the court is the motion of Dr. Gill to dismiss the § 1983 cause of action for failure to state a claim; the motion of AUSD and AUSD Board to dismiss the Rehabilitation Act claim and the ADA claim for failure to state a claim, and to dismiss the ADA claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and the motion of the Tobinworld defendants to dismiss the action under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).


A. Legal Standards

1. Dismissal for failure to state a claim

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests for the legal sufficiency of the claims alleged in the complaint. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1199-1200 (9th Cir. 2003). Review is generally limited to the contents of the complaint, although the court can also consider a document on which the complaint relies if the document is central to the claims asserted in the complaint, and no party questions the authenticity of the document. See Sanders v. Brown, 504 F.3d 903, 910 (9th Cir. 2007).

To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint generally must satisfy only the minimal notice pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which requires that a complaint include a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)

A complaint may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim if the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory, or has not alleged sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Somers v. Apple, Inc., 729 F.3d 953, 959 (9th Cir. 2013). While the court is to accept as true all the factual allegations in the complaint, legally conclusory statements, not supported by actual factual allegations, need not be accepted. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009); see also In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008).

The allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level[, ]" and a motion to dismiss should be granted if the complaint does not proffer enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 558-59 (2007) (citations and quotations omitted). 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 679. Where dismissal is warranted, it is generally without prejudice, unless it is clear the complaint cannot be saved by any amendment. Sparling v. Daou, 411 F.3d 1006, 1013 (9th Cir. 2005).

2. Dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only that power authorized by Article III of the United States Constitution and statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto. See Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986). Thus, federal courts have no power to consider claims for which they lack subject-matter jurisdiction. See Chen-Cheng Wang ex rel. United States v. FMC Corp., 975 F.2d 1412, 1415 (9th Cir. 1992).

The court is under a continuing duty to dismiss an action whenever it appears that the court lacks jurisdiction. Id .; see also Spencer Enters., Inc. v. United States, 345 F.3d 683, 687 (9th Cir. 2003); Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computers Prods., Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir. 1996). The burden of establishing that a cause lies within this limited jurisdiction rests upon the ...

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