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Anderson v. Yolo County

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 14, 2017

IVY ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
YOLO COUNTY, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Ivy Anderson filed this action against defendant Yolo County, alleging that defendant racially discriminated against her when it reduced the in-home supportive service (“IHSS”) funds of her developmentally delayed son, Daytrail Swan. (Notice of Removal Ex. A, First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) (Docket No. 1).) Before the court now is defendant's Motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended Complaint. (Def.'s Mot. (Docket No. 4).)

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The state of California provides IHSS funds to low- income elderly and disabled persons to assist with their daily living needs. V.L. v. Wagner, 669 F.Supp.2d 1106, 1109 (N.D. Cal. 2009). The IHSS program is administered by counties under the supervision of the California Department of Social Services (“DSS”). Basden v. Wagner, 181 Cal.App.4th 929, 934 (3d Dist. 2010). When a county authorizes the provision of IHSS funds to a recipient, it “either obtains and pays [an IHSS] provider or pays the recipient who hires one.” Miller v. Woods, 148 Cal.App.3d 862, 868 (1983). In many cases, the recipient uses his or her IHSS funds to pay a relative, who provides IHSS to the recipient. Putz v. Schwarzenegger, No. 10-00344 CW, 2010 WL 1838717, at *1 (N.D. Cal. May 5, 2010).

         Plaintiff is the IHSS provider for her 37-year-old son, Swan, who has been diagnosed with developmental delay. (FAC ¶ 7.) Defendant administers Swan's IHSS funds. (See Id. at 1-2.) Until June 10, 2015, defendant had been issuing nearly 250 hours' worth of IHSS funds to Swan each month, which plaintiff had been keeping as income.[1] (See Id. ¶ 8-9.)

         On June 10, 2015, defendant sent a social worker to plaintiff's home to conduct an assessment of Swan's IHSS needs. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff alleges that at the assessment, the social worker “was demeaning, unprofessional, and continuously wrote down statements that were never spoken by either Plaintiff or her son.” (Id. ¶ 27.) Three weeks after the assessment, defendant notified plaintiff that it would be reducing Swan's IHSS funds to 22.5 hours per month. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         Plaintiff challenged the reduction via the DSS' administrative appeals process. (Id. ¶ 12.) After a hearing on the matter, the DSS affirmed defendant's reduction in large part, ordering that Swan's IHSS funds be reduced to 44 hours and 4 minutes per month. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff sought a rehearing on DSS' decision, which DSS declined to grant. (Id. ¶ 15.)

         On July 20, 2016, plaintiff filed this action in the California Superior Court. (Notice of Removal at 1.) She amended her complaint on September 12, 2016. (See FAC at 7.) Plaintiff does not name her son as a plaintiff in the amended Complaint, nor does she bring any claims on his behalf. Instead, plaintiff, who is African-American, (see Id. ¶ 45), alleges that defendant racially discriminated against her by reducing her son's IHSS funds, thus in effect reducing her income. (See Id. ¶ 25 (“Plaintiff believes and thereon alleges that her race was a factor in Defendants' [decision to cut her son's IHSS funds] . . . .”).) She brings the following claims against defendant: (1) race discrimination in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), Cal Gov. Code §§ 12940 et seq.; (2) “Negligent Failure to Prevent Retaliation”; and (3) race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“section 1981”). (Id. at 3-7.)

         Defendant removed plaintiff's action to this court on October 17, 2016. (Notice of Removal.) Defendant now moves to dismiss plaintiff's amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[2] (Def.'s Mot.)

         II. Legal Standard

         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the allegations in the pleadings as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “only 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).

         The “plausibility” standard, “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, ” and where a plaintiff pleads facts that are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability, ” the facts “stop[] short of the line between possibility and plausibility.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice, ” and “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. At 678.

         III. ...

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