United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS RE:
DKT. NO. 6
PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jefferson Union High School District's (named in the
complaint as “Board of Trustees of the Jefferson Union
High School District”) motion to dismiss came on for
hearing before this court on December 4, 2020. Plaintiff Tim
Adams appeared through his counsel, Stanley Apps. Defendant
appeared through its counsel, Alexi Offill-Klein. Having read
the papers filed by the parties and carefully considered
their arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good
cause appearing, the court hereby rules as follows.
Tim Adams is a tenured teacher at Terra Nova Nova High School
and a former coach of the school's varsity football team.
This lawsuit arises out of his removal as the high school
football coach. Plaintiff pleads three causes of action
against defendant Board of Trustees of the Jefferson Union
High School District: (1) Retaliation for protected speech in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) Deprivation of due
process rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (3)
Unpaid wages in violation of California Labor Code §
204.2. See First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”), Dkt. 1-2. / / /
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests for the legal
sufficiency of the claims alleged in the complaint. Ileto
v. Glock, 349 F.3d 1191, 1199-1200 (9th Cir. 2003).
Under 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) 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).
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). The
complaint must proffer sufficient 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).
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.
“[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 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). 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).
moves to dismiss each cause of action.
First and Second Causes of Action, Asserted Under 42 U.S.C.
first and second causes of action allege violations of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. That statute provides that “Every
person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or
Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to
be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other
person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of
any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured
in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress[.]” 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983
(emphasis added). “[A] State is not a person within the
meaning of § 1983, ” although “a
municipality” is. Will v. Michigan Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 62, 64 (1989). More
specifically, “local government units which are not
considered part of the State for Eleventh Amendment
purposes” are persons under § 1983, but
“States or governmental entities that are considered
‘arms of the State' for Eleventh Amendment
purposes” are not. Id. at 70; accord
Gilbreath v. Cutter Biological, Inc., 931 F.2d 1320,
1327 (9th Cir. 1991). The same rule generally applies, with
some exception, to suits against individuals in their
official capacities, because “a suit against a state
official in his or her official capacity is not a suit
against the official but rather is a suit against the
official's office.” Will, 491 U.S. at 71.
districts in California are “arms of the State”
for Eleventh Amendment purposes, and are therefore not
“persons” within the meaning of § 1983.
See, e.g., Belanger v. Madera Unified Sch.
Dist., 963 F.2d 248, 251 (9th Cir. 1992) (school
district “is a state agency for purposes of the
Eleventh Amendment . . . . because a judgment against the
school district would be satisfied out of state funds.
Moreover, under California law, the school district is a
state agency that performs central governmental
functions.”); Kirchmann v. Lake Elsinore Unified
Sch. Dist., 83 Cal.App.4th 1098, 1115 (2000) (“In
view of the extensive control of the state over the fiscal
affairs and political status of school districts, the Ninth
Circuit in Belanger correctly determined a
California school district should be considered an arm of the
state for purposes of the Eleventh Amendment.”);
C.W. v. Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist., 784 F.3d
1237, 1247 (9th Cir. 2015) (“It is well-established
that a school district cannot be sued for damages under
§ 1983.”); Doe v. Petaluma City Sch.
Dist., 830 F.Supp. 1560, 1577 (N.D. Cal. 1993)
(“California school districts are arms of the state for
purposes of Eleventh Amendment immunity and are therefore
immune from liability under section 1983.”);
Bratton v. Bd. of Educ. of Emery Unified Sch. Dist.,
Case No. 92-cv-4510-FMS, 1997 WL 797943, at *2 (N.D. Cal.
Dec. 16, 1997) (“California school districts are
considered ‘arms of the State.' The California
Department of Education, the Emery Unified School District,
and the School Board are therefore immune from suit under
section 1983.”) (citation omitted).
face of this unambiguous precedent, plaintiff argues that he
filed suit against individual members of the board of
trustees, not the board itself. Accordingly, he argues that
his claims under § 1983 should be construed as claims
against the individual members of the Board of Trustees in
their official capacities (to the extent the claims seek
prospective, injunctive relief). He also ...