Anderson v. National Park Community College and Board of Trustees of National Park Community College et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting 6 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed without prejudice. Signed by Honorable Robert T. Dawson on May 14, 2015. (hnc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
HOT SPRINGS DIVISION
Case No. 14-6141
NATIONAL PARK COMMUNITY COLLEGE;
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF NATIONAL PARK
COMMUNITY COLLEGE; WILLIAM RITTER,
individually and in his official
capacity as employee of National
Park Community College; JOHN HOGAN,
individually and in his official
capacity as President of National
Park Community College
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Currently before the Court are the motion to dismiss and
supporting brief (Docs. 6-7) filed by Defendants National Park
Community College (“NPCC”), the Board of Trustees of NPCC (the
“Board”), NPCC employee William Ritter, and NPCC President John
opposition (Doc. 9).
For the reasons set forth below, the Court
finds that Defendants’ motion should be GRANTED.
The following facts, which are assumed to be true for the
purpose of this motion, are taken from Plaintiff’s complaint:
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Plaintiff is an African-American male who began attending
After starting the program, he was told that he had to leave a
class due to the fact that he was over the age of 18.
time, NPCC and an instructor named Becky Linske 1 allowed another
student who was Caucasian and over the age of 18 to remain in
On October 2, 2013, Plaintiff and another classmate took a
lunch break and upon returning to campus, Plaintiff decided to
get help from a former instructor, Kim Hobson. 2
Plaintiff was embarrassed and felt he was being intimidated.
report the incident.
Shortly thereafter, Investigator Leslie
Plaintiff responded affirmatively.
Plaintiff that the school would handle the October 2 incident
According to Plaintiff, after he complained to the
Sheriff’s Department, a representative from NPCC contacted the
Ms. Linske is not a party to this action.
Ms. Hobson is not a party to this action.
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Sheriff’s Department to stop any investigation into the incident
reported by Plaintiff. 3
Plaintiff filed this civil rights action on December 9,
2015, against NPCC, the Board, NPCC employee William Ritter, and
discrimination claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(d) (“Title VI”); the First and Fourteenth
Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993, Ark. Code Ann. § 16-123105(a) (“ACRA”).
Defendants now move to dismiss the complaint
under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6),
arguing that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and
that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be
allows the Court to dismiss any claims over which, either on
their face or in light of outside evidence, it does not have
dismiss under 12(b)(1), the Court must first identify “12(b)(1)
Plaintiff alleges that NPCC “clearly set out a course of conduct to try and
hide the fact that the abuse and discrimination by William Ritter occurred on
their campus.” (Doc. 1., p. 4). The Court considers this to be the type of
bare assertion that is not entitled to the presumption of truth when ruling
on a 12(b)(6) motion.
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 680-81 (2009)
(noting “[i]t is the conclusory nature of respondent's allegations, rather
than their extravagantly fanciful nature, that disentitles them to the
presumption of truth”).
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motions that attack the existence of subject matter jurisdiction
in fact, quite apart from the pleadings.”
Mortensen v. First
Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977); see
also Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 (8th Cir. 1990).
Defendants here attack the complaint on its face and have not
Therefore, “the non-moving party receives the same
protections as it would defending against a motion brought under
Rule 12(b)(6).” Osborn, 918 F.2d at 729 n.6.
“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.’”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, a
court accepts as true all of the factual allegations contained
in a complaint and reviews the complaint to determine whether
its allegations show that the pleader is entitled to relief.
Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir.
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addressed in the parties’ briefing.
Plaintiff alleges in the
complaint that jurisdiction is based on 28 U.S.C. § 1343, which
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) is denied.
Defendants next assert that Plaintiff’s complaint does not
adequately set forth sufficient factual allegations showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief as required by Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), and that the complaint should therefore
be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).
Plaintiff concedes that
he has no valid Title VI claim against the Board, Ritter, or
(Doc. 9, p. 1).
He also acknowledges that NPCC, the
Board, and Ritter and Hogan in their official capacities are
entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity on his § 1983 claims.
(Doc. 9, p. 3).
Accordingly, these claims are dismissed without
The remaining claims are discussed below.
A. Title VI Claim Against NPCC
Title VI provides that “[n]o person in the United States
shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be
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excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be
receiving Federal financial assistance.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000d.
Plaintiff alleges NPCC discriminated against
him on the basis of race because he was told he had to leave a
class due to the fact that he was over 18 years of age, while
another student who was Caucasian and over the age of 18 was
allowed to remain in the classroom.
Further, he alleges all
Defendants failed to investigate or take remedial action after
October 2 incident.
actionable claim for relief.
See Yusuf v. Vassar Coll., 35 F.3d
gender discrimination by a university must do more than recite
Plaintiff has not stated any facts
from which the Court could infer any discriminatory intent on
the part of NPCC.
See Mumid v. Abraham Lincoln High Sch., 618
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Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Title
VI claim must be dismissed.
B. First Amendment Claim
In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges an unspecified claim
under the First Amendment.
(Doc. 1, p. 1).
has not set forth “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” as required by
Amendment claim must be dismissed.
C. Section 1983 Claims
To state a cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that he was deprived of a constitutional right and that
the person depriving him of the right acted under color of law.
Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980).
In the complaint,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Ritter and Hogan, in their
equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
state actors treat similarly situated people alike.” Bogren v.
Minnesota, 236 F.3d 399, 408 (8th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted).
“State actors may, however, treat dissimilarly situated people
dissimilarly without running afoul of the protections afforded
inapplicable to . . . § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that
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each Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”
U.S. at 676.
1. Defendant Ritter
Defendant Ritter contends that he is entitled to qualified
immunity on Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim.
“An official sued under
§ 1983 is entitled to qualified immunity unless it is shown that
the official violated a statutory or constitutional right that
was clearly established at the time of the challenged conduct.”
Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S. Ct. 2012, 2023 (2014) (quotation
“Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, a court must
individual capacity that fails to state a claim for violation of
‘clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which
a reasonable person would have known.’” Hager v. Ark. Dep't of
Health, 735 F.3d 1009, 1013 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting Harlow v.
whether the plaintiff has stated a plausible claim for violation
of a constitutional or statutory right and whether the right was
clearly established at the time of the alleged infraction.”
alleged, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, show
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After careful review of the complaint, the
Defendant Ritter violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ritter violated his equal
protection rights when he physically pushed Plaintiff and called
him a “boy,” which created a hostile environment for Plaintiff.
The Court concludes that these allegations, taken as true, are
indicative of a single isolated incident, but are not enough to
support a claim of racial discrimination.
alleges that Ritter’s conduct was racially motivated and that
the term “boy” was used as a racially derogatory term, there are
no factual allegations to support these conclusory assertions.
Further, the Eighth Circuit has long held in other contexts that
“the use of racially derogatory language, unless it is pervasive
or severe enough to amount to racial harassment, will not by
itself violate the fourteenth amendment.”
Blades v. Schuetzle,
302 F.3d 801, 805 (8th Cir. 2002) (prison context).
has not alleged how he was treated differently because of his
See Johnson v. City of Minneapolis, 152 F.3d 859, 862
differently from others similarly situated to him.”).
Because Plaintiff failed to plead any facts to support the
assertion that Ritter’s alleged actions were racially motivated,
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Plaintiff has failed to state an equal protection claim against
Ritter under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Ritter is entitled to qualified immunity and Plaintiff’s § 1983
claim against Defendant must be dismissed.
2. Defendant Hogan
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hogan, President of NPCC,
violated his equal protection rights by failing to investigate
The only allegations specific to Defendant
Hogan are that he is the current President of NPCC, and that he
assumed the position when the previous president retired on June
alleges generally that all Defendants discriminated against him
officials and local law enforcement.
However, Plaintiff has not
personal knowledge of any matters involving Plaintiff.
v. Mo. Dep’t of Corr. & Human Res., 883 F.3d 640, 645 (8th Cir.
1989) (noting that supervisor liability under § 1983 requires a
affirming dismissal where the court could not determine that the
defendant was personally aware of alleged misconduct).
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The mere fact that Hogan assumed the presidency of NPCC in
As such, Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim against Hogan will
D. Arkansas Civil Rights Act Claims
Plaintiff also filed claims under the ACRA, which provides
Ark. Code Ann. § 16–123–105(a).
case, the claims against the Defendants under the ACRA mirror
Plaintiff’s claims under § 1983. Given that the facts and the
appropriate under the ACRA.
Because Plaintiff’s pleaded facts
do not state a claim for which relief can be granted under Ark.
Code § 16-123-105(a), Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s
ACRA claims will be granted.
Request to Amend Complaint
Plaintiff requests leave to amend his complaint in his
Plaintiff seeks leave to amend is to name Defendants Ritter and
Hogan in their individual capacities. (See Doc. 9, p. 1, ¶ 5).
Because the complaint already names these Defendants in both
their official and individual capacities, leave to amend the
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requests leave to amend the complaint to “flesh out his First
Amendment claims, based on the Defendants’ attempts to chill his
[sic] actions to the police and the school’s and its employees’
attempts to quash any investigation into the validity of the
complaints made by the Plaintiff.”
Id. at p. 2, ¶ 8.
Amendment claims stem from a purported violation of his right to
free speech, he has not set forth anything more than vague,
Plaintiff’s request for leave to amend fails to comply with the
Local Rules of Court for amending a pleading.
See Local Rule
Plaintiff’s request for leave to amend the complaint is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 14th day of May, 2015.
/s/ Robert T. Dawson
Honorable Robert T. Dawson
United States District Judge
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