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Ogunsalu v. Sweetwater Union High School District

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 21, 2017

CORNELIUS OLUSEYI OGUNSALU, Plaintiff,
v.
SWEETWATER UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER (1) GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE EXCESS PAGES (ECF No. 11) AND (2) GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 8)

          Hon. Cynthia Bashant United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Cornelius Oluseyi Ogunsalu files this lawsuit against Sweetwater Union High School District (“SUHSD”) alleging that the school district discriminated against him based on age and race when it refused to re-hire him as a substitute teacher. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) He further sues Jennifer Carbuccia, general counsel for SUHSD, alleging that she conspired to have his teaching credentials revoked and his California Clear Credential application denied at an administrative law hearing. (Complaint ¶¶ 76, 77, 107, 108.)

         Both defendants move to dismiss claiming they are immune from suit. (ECF No. 8.) Ogunsalu responds, agreeing that, under Belanger v. Madera School Dist., 963 F.2d 248 (9th Cir. 1992), “[t]his court has no jurisdiction over Sweetwater Union High School District because it is an arm of the State” and immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. (ECF No. 10.)[1] Based on this concession, the Court GRANTS SUHSD's Motion to Dismiss with prejudice. (ECF No. 8.)

         Carbuccia further moves to dismiss on the grounds that the single cause of action against her for civil conspiracy lacks requisite specificity. (ECF No. 8). The Court agrees. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Carbuccia's Motion to Dismiss with leave to amend. (ECF No. 8.)

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS-CLAIMS AGAINST CARBUCCIA

         According to the Complaint, at “an Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) hearing” on November 14-15, 2016, “various false and contrived testimonies where [sic] rendered before Administrative Law Judge Adam L. Berg” which resulted in Ogunsalu losing his teaching credential and being denied his Clear Credential application. (Complaint ¶¶ 76-79.) Ogunsalu apparently blames this result on SUHSD general counsel Jennifer Carbuccia, who he alleges conspired to have his teaching credentials revoked and his California Clear Credential application denied. (Complaint ¶¶106, 107.) Ogunsalu brings one count of “Civil Conspiracy in Violation of U.S.C. § 1983 against Jennifer Carbuccia” and Does 1-30. (Complaint at 17-18.)

         In the Motion to Dismiss, Defendants request that the Court take judicial notice of various documents including the Memorandum of Decision revoking Ogunsalu's teaching credential (“Administrative Law Decision”) (ECF No. 8-2 at Ex. A.). (ECF No. 8-3). Ogunsalu does not oppose.

         Courts may not usually consider material outside the complaint when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990) (superseded by statute on other grounds). However, documents specifically identified in the complaint whose authenticity is not questioned by parties may also be considered. Fecht v. Price Co., 70 F.3d 1078, 1080 n.1 (9th Cir. 1995). Moreover, the court may consider the full text of those documents even when the complaint quotes only selected portions. Id. It may also consider material properly subject to judicial notice without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. Barron v. Reich, 13 F.3d 1370, 1377 (9th Cir. 1994).

         Because Ogunsalu does not oppose and because Ogunsalu's allegations are based on the Administrative Law Decision which is specifically identified in the Complaint, the Court GRANTS the request to take judicial notice of Administrative Law Decision. (ECF No. 8-2 at Ex. A.)

         The Administrative Law Decision states that the administrative law hearing was prosecuted by the Executive Director of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, who was represented by a Deputy Attorney General (not Carbuccia). (ECF No. 8-2 at 4.) It further states that Ogunsalu did not appear and the matter proceeded as a default. (Id.) The Administrative Law Judge concluded in the decision that revocation was proper based on allegations that Ogunsalu “engaged in unprofessional and immoral conduct” while employed at San Diego Unified School District (not SUHSD) and based on testimony by principals of Bell Middle School, a campus police officer assigned to Bell Middle School, the Vice Principal of Bell Middle School, and a student and the father of the student at Bell Middle School. Bell Middle School is in the San Diego Unified School District, not SUHSD. (Id.) Carbuccia's name is not referenced in the Administrative Law Decision.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Standard

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all factual allegations pleaded in the complaint as true and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, rather, it 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 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “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 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         “In civil rights cases where the plaintiff appears pro se, the court must construe the pleadings liberally and must afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt.” Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Nonetheless, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). A court need not accept “legal conclusions” as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Despite the deference the court must pay to the plaintiff's allegations, it is not proper for the court to assume that “the [plaintiff] can prove facts that ...


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