Warden v. Coolidge Unified School District et al

Filing 86

ORDER - IT IS ORDERED that the District Dfts' 77 Motion for Attorneys' Fees is GRANTED in part; FURTHER ORDERED that District Dfts shall recover from Pla the sum of $23,659.50 in attys' fees. Signed by Magistrate Judge Michelle H Burns on 10/26/09. (SAT)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 WO IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA ) ) ) Plaintiffs, ) ) vs. ) Coolidge Unified School District, et al., ) ) ) Defendants. ) ) John P. Warden, CIV-07-2273-PHX-MHB ORDER Plaintiff John P. Warden, appearing pro se, is employed as a teacher by Defendant Coolidge Unified School District. In 2007, Plaintiff was accused of improper contact with students at San Tan Heights Elementary School, and was, subsequently, transferred to his current position at Coolidge High School. In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' conduct, in connection with the accusations and subsequent transfer, gives rise to various legal claims. Plaintiff appeared to assert that Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of race, sex, and disability in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). He also contended that Defendants denied him equal protection of the law and deprived him of property and liberty without due process, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983. In addition, Plaintiff stated that Defendants conspired to violate his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1985. Lastly, Plaintiff claimed that Defendants retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights and that 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Defendants are liable under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). On June 5, 2008, Defendants Coolidge Unified School District, Sarah Robles, and Thomas Beckett ("District Defendants") filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that Plaintiff had failed to assert any constitutional violations. Specifically, the District Defendants contended that (1) Plaintiff cannot allege an Equal Protection claim based on a "class of one" theory; (2) Plaintiff has not identified either a property or liberty interest with which the District Defendants have interfered; (3) Plaintiff has not alleged a cognizable First Amendment claim; and (4) Plaintiff fails to state a claim pursuant to either section 1983 or section 1985. With respect to the other claims asserted in the First Amended Complaint, the District Defendants argued that Plaintiff failed to state a viable RICO cause of action and failed to state a claim pursuant to Title VII or the ADA. The Court subsequently granted the District Defendants' Motion to Dismiss on December 16, 2008, finding that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint failed to state any viable claim against the District Defendants. Thereafter, the District Defendants moved for an award of attorneys' fees totaling $31,001.50. In their Motion and supporting Memorandum, the District Defendants argue that Plaintiff asserted legal theories not recognized in this Circuit. For example, Plaintiff claimed that the District Defendants conspired to obstruct his access to the court system and retaliated when he attempted to enforce his "rights." In an effort to support his retaliation claim, he argued that he was a "class of one." The Ninth Circuit, however, does not recognize a "class of one" theory for public employees. As such, the District Defendants claim that it was unreasonable for Plaintiff to assert this theory of recovery. Plaintiff also claimed that his due process rights were violated when the District Defendants transferred him to a different school within the District. The District Defendants contend that he suffered no reduction in pay, nor did he allege that the District Defendants took any adverse action against his teaching license. Under such circumstances, his due -2- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 process rights were not implicated. Following established Ninth Circuit precedent, the Court found that Plaintiff's due process rights were not violated. The District Defendants also assert that Plaintiff failed to state a section 1983 claim. As the Court recognized, liability under section 1983 cannot be established under a theory of respondeat superior. His section 1985 claim, which requires that he demonstrate a conspiracy to deprive one of civil rights, failed as well, for want of a cognizable underlying civil rights violation. The District Defendants state in their Motion that Plaintiff also appeared to raise a Title VII or ADA claim, although his pleadings failed to precisely identify the nature of these claims. Not only did he fail to present any facts in support of these claims, but he affirmatively alleged that he was able to perform his essential job functions. The District Defendants conclude their Motion stating that Plaintiff should be required to pay the fees that they were forced to incur in their defense of Plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiff filed his Opposition to Motion for Attorney Fees on September 21, 2009, and the District Defendants filed their Reply on September 23, 2009. Having considered the District Defendants' Motion and the parties' responsive pleadings filed thereto, IT IS ORDERED that the District Defendants' Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Doc. #77) is GRANTED in part; IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that District Defendants shall recover from Plaintiff the sum of $23,659.50 in attorneys' fees. DATED this 26th day of October, 2009. -3-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?