J.B.F. v. KY Dept of Ed, et al
Per Curiam OPINION filed : AFFIRMED, decision not for publication. Martha Craig Daughtrey, Circuit Judge; Karen Nelson Moore, Circuit Judge and Raymond M. Kethledge, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 17a0385n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF
EDUCATION, KENTUCKY SCHOOL FOR )
THE DEAF, and SCOTT HAUN,
Jun 30, 2017
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
J.B.F., by and through his guardian and next
friend, Marilyn Stivers,
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
DAUGHTREY, MOORE, and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Plaintiff J.B.F. was a student at the Kentucky School for the Deaf when
a staff member found him engaged in sexual acts with his roommate, another male student, in the
bathroom of their dormitory suite. Initially, J.B.F told school authorities that the encounter was
consensual, but after his aunt and guardian, Marilyn Stivers, found out about the incident, she
filed suit on his behalf in state court. The thrust of the complaint was that J.B.F. had been the
victim of a state-created danger when the defendants negligently exposed him to a “known
sexual deviant”—his roommate—resulting in a situation that the staff had not been adequately
trained to deal with. The case was removed to federal court by the defendants, who then filed a
motion for summary judgment on all claims: violation of equal protection under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, negligence, negligent training and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional
The district court granted summary judgment on all four claims and denied the
J.B.F. v. Kentucky Department of Education et al.
plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend the judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). It
is the denial of the Rule 59(e) that is now before us on appeal. We agree with the district court
that the motion was properly denied.
As the district court pointed out, citing Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th
Cir. 2005): “A court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend if there is: (1) a clear error
of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a
need to prevent manifest injustice.” The district court also emphasized that a Rule 59(e) motion
cannot be used to “relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments . . . that could have been raised
prior to the entry of judgment,” Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5 (2008), or
“to re-argue a case.” Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374
(6th Cir. 1998). Finally, as the district court also pointed out, the motion before it “exclusively
rehashe[d] misguided and failed summary judgment arguments and regurgitate[d] rejected case
theories,” thus constituting sufficient reason to deny the motion outright.
Nevertheless, the district court analyzed the issues raised in the motion to prove the point.
First, the district court rebuffed the plaintiff’s claim that, in granting summary judgment, the
court had overlooked various disputes of material fact. In the Rule 59(e) motion, the plaintiff
attacked the district court’s finding that the school had conducted an investigation into the
incident in question, arguing that there was no evidence of an investigation in the record. But, as
the court noted, the plaintiff had submitted a letter from defendant Haun that explicitly
acknowledged an “investigation of the reported incident.” Next, the court declined to review
evidence concerning the roommate’s alleged propensity to commit violence that, according to
the plaintiff, was “inadvertently not attached” to his motion for summary judgment. It was, the
court said, “newly submitted” rather than “newly discovered” evidence. The district court also
J.B.F. v. Kentucky Department of Education et al.
found the evidence irrelevant because none of it “involved sexually assaultive behavior” that
would have put the school on notice of a need to protect J.B.F. from a potential sexual assault
and, thus, would not have affected the grant of summary judgment to the defendants. The
plaintiff also took issue with the district court’s alleged “determination that the sexual acts were
consensual.” However, the record establishes that in evaluating the evidence in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff when granting summary judgment to the defendants, the court had
assumed that “the interaction was non-consensual.”
In addition to challenging the factual basis for the district court’s determinations, the
plaintiff also argued that the court committed errors of law, for example, in failing to consider
the state-created danger doctrine of McQueen v. Beecher Community Schools, 433 F.3d 460
(6th Cir. 2006). But, the district court had reviewed the McQueen case and found it inapposite
because it utilized a due-process analysis, while the plaintiff “solely made Equal Protection
constitutional claims.” The record also fails to support the plaintiff’s argument about federal and
state immunity because it was one which the district court had already rejected. Finally, the
plaintiff challenged the district court’s ruling on the negligence claim, arguing that the court
“failed to adequately consider the special relationship doctrine” and its corresponding
“affirmative duty to act to protect [a] person who is not able to protect himself” because of
disabilities like J.B.F.’s.
However, the record establishes that the court explicitly applied the
“affirmative duty standard” requested by J.B.F. but dismissed the negligence claim because the
incident in question, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, simply was not
foreseeable and, therefore, created no affirmative duty on the defendants to prevent it.
Finding no error in the district court’s denial of the plaintiff’s Rule 59(e) motion, we
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