United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS RE:
DKT. NO. 62
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge.
before the Court is Defendant San Francisco Community College
District's(“Defendant” or the
“District”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff Carol
Thomas's (“Plaintiff”) third amended
complaint (“TAC”). See Dkt. No. 61.
Having read the parties' papers and carefully considered
their arguments, the Court finds the matter appropriate for
decision without oral argument, see Civil L.R.
7-1(b), and GRANTS the motion for the
reasons stated below.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to move to
dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, the plaintiff must plead “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). A claim is plausible when the plaintiff pleads
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While courts must “accept factual
allegations in the complaint as true and construe the
pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party,
” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins.
Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008), it is
insufficient for pleading purposes to merely state a series
of “conclusory allegations” or “unwarranted
inferences, ” Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179,
1183 (9th Cir. 2004).
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
state a claim against the District under Title VI of the
Civil Rights Act, Plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to
show that “(1) [the District] is engaging in racial
discrimination; and (2) [the District] is receiving federal
financial assistance.” Fobbs v. Holy Cross Health
Sys. Corp., 29 F.3d 1439, 1447 (9th Cir. 1994). To show
that Defendant is engaging in racial discrimination,
Plaintiff must show that “(1) there is a racially
hostile environment; (2) the district had notice of the
problem; and (3) it ‘failed to respond adequately to
redress the racially hostile environment.'”
Monteiro v. Temple Union High Sch. Dist., 158 F.3d
1022, 1033 (9th Cir. 1998). A racially hostile environment is
“one in which racial harassment is severe, pervasive or
persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an
individual to participate in or benefit from the services,
activities or privileges provided by the recipient.”
Id. (internal quotations omitted). Plaintiff may
demonstrate that Defendant had either actual or constructive
notice of the hostile environment. Id. at 1034. A
“district is liable for its failure to act if the need
for intervention was so obvious, or if inaction was so likely
to result in discrimination, that it can be said to have been
deliberately indifferent to the need.” Id.
(internal quotations omitted).
TAC fails to plead facts sufficient to meet these standards.
The core of the TAC concerns Plaintiff's interaction with
her City College of San Francisco counselor, Kate
Ryan.Plaintiff alleges that she met with Ryan on
August 25, 2015 to ask Ryan to make a phone call on her
behalf to verify her attendance at the school, which was
necessary to enable Plaintiff to receive unemployment
benefits from the Employment Development Department
(“EDD”) of California. TAC at 5. However, Ryan
failed to call the EDD despite several requests by Plaintiff.
Id. At a subsequent meeting in Ryan's office on
September 1, 2015, Plaintiff alleges that Ryan “refused
to return the call to the EDD, [and] spoke to [Plaintiff] in
a negative tone [before] discharg[ing] her from her office
area, ” and telling Plaintiff to “go find 
another counselor.” Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff
alleges that Ryan then “assault[ed] her” by
“dumping her purse outside of her office while
[staring] into [Plaintiff's] eyes the entire time she
maliciously handled her purse, ” inflicting on
Plaintiff “an invisible wound.” Id. at
7. Based solely on these interactions-and the fact that Ryan
is white while she is black-Plaintiff alleges that Ryan
exhibited “a discriminatory attitude and harassing
conduct” rising to the level of “racist behavior
and oppression with the intent to keep racial segregation
among the students in school programs.” Dkt. No. 63
(“Opp.”) at 9. These conclusory allegations of
discrimination are insufficient to support such a finding,
however, as they would require the Court to draw unsupported
and unreasonable inferences. See Adams, 355 F.3d at
even if Plaintiff had successfully pleaded a claim against
Ryan, the Court advised Plaintiff in its last order
dismissing Plaintiff's second amended complaint that
because Ryan is not a named Defendant, Plaintiff needed to
clearly specify how Defendant-San Francisco
Community College District-discriminated against her on the
basis of race. See Dkt. No. 59 at 3. “Such
facts might [have] include[d] allegations of overtly
racially-motivated misconduct, such as the use of racial
slurs, . . . alleg[ations] that other members of the
protected class suffered similar mistreatment, . . . [or]
alleg[ations] showing that [Plaintiff] was treated less
favorably than similarly situated students who were not
members of the protected class.” Jianjun Xie v.
Oakland Unified Sch. Dist., No. C 12-02950 CRB, 2013 WL
812425, at *4 (N.D. Cal. March 5, 2013). Plaintiff could not,
however, allege that Defendant is vicariously liable for
Ryan's actions. See Santos v. Peralta Cmty. Coll.
Dist., No. C-07-5227 EMC, 2009 WL 3809797, at *7 (N.D.
Cal. Nov. 13, 2009) (holding that “a theory of
vicarious liability is not viable under Title VI, just as
such a theory is not viable under Title IX.”); Earl
v. Fresno Unified Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., No.
1:11-CV-01568-LJO-GSA, 2012 WL 1608606, at *4 (E.D. Cal. May
allegations in this regard are similarly conclusory and
insufficient. Plaintiff contends that following the incident
between her and Ryan, Plaintiff submitted a complaint to Dean
Jorge Bell, who met with Plaintiff to discuss the matter. TAC
at 8. Plaintiff emailed Dean Bell after the meeting, thanking
him for apologizing for Ryan's alleged actions and
requesting a meeting between himself, Plaintiff, and Ryan.
See TAC, Ex. A. In response, Dean Bell declined to
arrange any additional meetings, but assured Plaintiff that
he would “deal with the situation directly with Ms.
Ryan.” Id. Nevertheless, despite their meeting
and subsequent email exchange, Plaintiff contends that Dean
Bell's failure to set up a second meeting demonstrated
“the City College [District's] collu[sion] with the
act of discrimination and injustice, ” as well as Dean
Bell's “participat[ion] in the underlying cultural
bias of group oppression at the school.” TAC at 9, 10.
Such unsupported allegations arising from a single
unsatisfactory interaction between Plaintiff and Ryan cannot
support a finding that there was a racially hostile
environment at the school, to which the District failed to
adequately respond. See Monteiro, 158 F.3d at 1033.
The Court therefore GRANTS Defendant's
motion to dismiss this claim.
42 U.S.C. § 1981
also asserts a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1981. See Compl. at 2. However,
“the Eleventh Amendment prohibits actions for damages
against state agencies when Congress has failed to express a
contrary intent, ” Belanger v. Madera Unified
School Dist., 963 F.2d 248, 250 (9th Cir. 1992), and
“[u]nder California law, school districts are agents of
the state that perform central governmental functions.”
Id. at 253; see also Mitchell v. Los Angeles
Cmty. Coll. Dist., 861 F.2d 198, 201-02 (9th Cir. 1988).
The District here is thus immune from suit with regard to
foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's TAC in its
entirety. While “a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ”
Erickson v. Pardus,551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted), a court need not grant leave to
amend where “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)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff here has had
three opportunities to amend her complaint, and the Court is
now convinced that she cannot allege facts to cure the
defects identified in the Court's orders. The Court
therefore dismisses the case with prejudice. See Zucco
Partners, LLC v. Digimarc Corp.,552 F.3d 981, 1007 (9th
Cir. 2009) (“[W]here the Plaintiff has previously been
granted leave to amend and has subsequently failed to ...