J.M. et al v. Pleasant Ridge Union School District et al

Filing 35

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re 29 Motion to Dismiss signed by Senior Judge William B. Shubb on 1/10/2017: IT IS ORDERED that Alliance Redwoods' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' third, fourth, fifth, and seventh causes of action as to Alliance Redwoods be, and the same hereby are, GRANTED. Plaintiffs have twenty days from the date this Order is signed to file a Second Amended Complaint, if they can do so consistent with this Order. (Kirksey Smith, K)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 ----oo0oo---- 10 11 12 13 J.M., a minor by and through her Guardian ad Litem, Nancy Morin-Teal, and NANCY MORINTEAL, an individual, 16 17 18 MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS Plaintiffs, 14 15 CIV. NO.: 2:16-00897 WBS CKD v. PLEASANT RIDGE UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT, ALLIANCE REDWOODS OUTDOOR RECREATION, COUNTY OF NEVADA, and DOES 1 to 50, Defendants. 19 20 21 ----oo0oo---Plaintiffs Nancy Morin-Teal and J.M. filed this action 22 against defendants Pleasant Ridge School District (“Pleasant 23 Ridge”), Alliance Redwoods Conference Grounds (“Alliance 24 Redwoods”), and the County of Nevada for a violation of the 25 26 27 28 Rehabilitation Act and related state law claims arising out of J.M.’s involvement as a student at Magnolia Intermediate School (“Magnolia”). The matter is now before the court on Alliance 1 1 Redwoods’ motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) 2 for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted 3 4 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Docket No. 29.) 5 6 I. Factual and Procedural Background J.M. is a disabled minor who attends Magnolia, a 7 8 subordinate public entity of Pleasant Ridge. 9 (“FAC”) ¶¶ 7, 11 (Docket No. 2).) (First Am. Compl. Plaintiffs allege defendants 10 had prior knowledge of all of J.M.’s disabilities prior to the 11 events at issue. 12 13 14 15 (Id. ¶ 16.) Plaintiffs allege Pleasant Ridge required J.M. to participate in a camp at Alliance Redwoods for school. 14-15.) (Id. ¶¶ Alliance Redwoods is a non-profit organization that 16 provides environmental skills. 17 J.M.’s mother, Morin-Teal, allegedly worked with defendants to 18 create a written care plan for J.M. during the trip. 19 Plaintiffs allege J.M.’s physician gave written orders that J.M. 20 21 (Id. ¶ 15.) could not be exposed to direct sunlight. Prior to the trip, (Id. ¶ 16.) (Id. ¶ 18.) During the trip to Alliance Redwoods, defendants 22 23 24 allegedly forced J.M. to stay in direct sunlight for 9.5 hours, despite J.M.’s protests. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) Plaintiffs allege 25 defendants gave J.M. Tylenol, told her to lie down, and did not 26 provide a nurse as promised. 27 suffered second degree burns, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, (Id. ¶¶ 16, 21.) 28 2 J.M. allegedly 1 permanent damage to her internal organs, emotional distress, and 2 post-traumatic stress syndrome. 3 4 (Id. ¶ 24.) Plaintiffs initiated this action and on October 11, 2016, the court granted, in part, Pleasant Ridge’s motion to 5 6 7 dismiss. No. 19).) (Oct. 11, 2016 Order (“Oct. 11 Order”) 10:8-13 (Docket Plaintiffs filed their FAC on October 31, 2016, 8 alleging: (1) discrimination under Section 504 against Pleasant 9 Ridge; (2) negligent supervision against all defendants; (3) 10 intentional infliction of emotional distress against all 11 defendants; and (4) discrimination under the Americans with 12 13 14 15 16 17 Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against Alliance Redwoods. 11.) (FAC at 7- Alliance Redwoods now moves to dismiss plaintiffs’ FAC for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. II. Discussion On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court 18 must accept the allegations in the complaint as true and draw all 19 reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. 20 21 Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 22 23 24 319, 322 (1972). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is 25 plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 26 544, 570 (2007). 27 ‘probability requirement,’ but it asks for more than a sheer “The plausibility standard is not akin to a 28 3 1 possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” 2 Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 3 4 Ashcroft v. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the 5 6 7 defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Under this standard, “a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it 8 strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is 9 improbable.” 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (“While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.”). A. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress In their third and fourth causes of action, plaintiffs 18 allege defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon 19 J.M. and Morin-Teal. 20 21 (FAC at 9.) The elements of intentional infliction of emotional distress are: “(1) extreme and outrageous conduct by the defendant with the intention of causing, or 22 23 24 reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional distress; (2) the plaintiff’s suffering severe or extreme 25 emotional distress; and (3) actual and proximate causation of the 26 emotional distress by the defendant’s outrageous conduct.” 27 Christensen v. Superior Court, 54 Cal. 3d 868, 904 (1991) 28 4 1 (citations omitted). 2 improperly refer to defendants generally when alleging both 3 4 Alliance Redwoods argues that plaintiffs intentional infliction of emotional distress causes of action and plaintiffs do not allege any intentional or reckless conduct by 5 6 Alliance Redwoods specifically. (Def.’s Mot. 6:8-13.) A defendant is entitled to know what actions a 7 8 plaintiff alleges it engaged in that supports the plaintiff’s 9 claims. See Sollberger v. Wachovia Sec., LLC, No. SACV 09-0766 10 AG (ANx), 2010 WL 2674456, *4-5 (C.D. Cal. June 30, 2010) (“One 11 common type of shotgun pleading comes in cases with multiple 12 13 14 15 defendants where the plaintiff uses the omnibus term ‘Defendants’ throughout a complaint by grouping defendants together without identifying what the particular defendants specifically did 16 wrong.”). 17 prevents the court from drawing the reasonable inference that the 18 specific defendant is liable for the claim alleged and justifies 19 dismissal of the claim. 20 21 Failure to delineate conduct by a specific defendant See id. at *5 (“This shotgun pleading style deprives Defendants of knowing exactly what they are accused of doing wrong. . . . [T]his defect alone warrants 22 23 24 dismissal.”); see also Pryzblyski v. Stumpf, No. CV-10-8073-PCTGMS, 2011 WL 31194, *4 (D. Ariz. Jan. 5, 2011) (“The Complaint is 25 drafted in such a way as to deprive any remaining Defendant of 26 the knowledge of what claims and factual allegations the 27 Complaint asserts against it.”); Turney v. Fifth Third Bank, No. 28 5 1 09-2533-JWL, 2010 WL 1744670, at *6 (D. Kan. Apr. 29, 2010) 2 (finding general allegations regarding defendants, without 3 4 identifying conduct by specific defendants, did not provide defendants with sufficient notice of claims against them). 5 6 7 Plaintiffs fail to allege any misconduct by Alliance Redwoods specifically in support of their intentional infliction 8 of emotional distress claims. Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding 9 J.M.’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, her 10 exposure to sunlight at Alliance Redwoods, and her inability to 11 contact her mother during the trip all refer to “defendants” 12 13 14 15 generally and not Alliance Redwoods. (See FAC ¶¶ 14-20.) Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding Morin-Teal’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim also refer to “defendants” 16 generally. 17 defendant responsible for each act at issue, [Alliance Redwoods] 18 cannot reasonably respond to [plaintiffs’] allegations in a 19 precise manner” and plaintiffs’ claim cannot survive. 20 21 (See id. ¶¶ 23, 57.) “By failing to specify the Autobidmaster, LLC v. Alpine Auto Gallery, LLC, No. 3:14-CV-1083AC, 2015 WL 2381611, at *15 (D. Or. May 19, 2015). 22 23 24 Plaintiffs fail to allege intentional or reckless conduct by Alliance Redwoods as distinct from Pleasant Ridge. 25 Thus, the FAC does not allow the court to draw the inference that 26 Alliance Redwoods is liable for the alleged misconduct or 27 intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. 28 6 1 Accordingly, the court must grant Alliance Redwoods’ motion to 2 dismiss plaintiffs’ third and fourth causes of action for 3 4 intentional infliction of emotional distress. B. Americans with Disabilities Act 5 6 7 8 9 In their fifth cause of action, plaintiffs allege Alliance Redwoods violated the ADA when it discriminated against J.M. on the basis of her disability. (FAC at 10.) Congress enacted the ADA “to remedy widespread 10 discrimination against disabled individuals.” 11 Martin, 532 U.S. 661, 674 (2001). 12 13 14 15 PGA Tour, Inc. v. Title III of the ADA prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating against disabled individuals by preventing them from “full and equal enjoyment” of the services provided. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). To 16 prevail on a Title III claim, a plaintiff must show that: “(1) he 17 is disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2) the defendant is a 18 private entity that owns, leases, or operates a place of public 19 accommodation; and (3) the plaintiff was denied public 20 21 accommodations by the defendant because of his disability.” Ariz. ex rel. Goddard v. Harkins Amusement Enters., Inc., 603 22 23 24 F.3d 666, 670 (9th Cir. 2010). Alliance Redwoods’ motion to dismiss centers on the third prong--whether plaintiffs allege 25 that Alliance Redwoods discriminated against J.M. on account of 26 her disability. 27 “The third element--whether [a plaintiff is] denied 28 7 1 public accommodations on the basis of disability--is met if there 2 was a violation of applicable accessibility standards.” 3 4 Johnson v. Wayside Prop. Inc., 41 F. Supp. 3d 973, 976 (E.D. Cal. 2014) (alteration in original) (quoting Moeller v. Taco Bell Corp., 816 5 6 7 F. Supp. 2d 831, 847 (N.D. Cal. 2011)). “[T]he barrier need only interfere with the plaintiff’s ‘full and equal enjoyment’ of the 8 facility.” 9 12182(a)). 10 11 12 13 14 15 Moeller, 816 F. Supp. 2d at 849 (quoting 42 U.S.C. § Plaintiffs allege that Alliance Redwoods denied J.M. full and equal enjoyment of its facilities because “the staff was untrained and even fearful about having a student in their camp with disabilities. By failing to ensure that their staff understood J.M.’s disability and the importance of first aid and 16 summoning medical assistance, the Defendants left J.M [sic] 17 without the supports necessary to participate with her peers 18 equally.” 19 defendants did not provide a reasonable accommodations--“no 20 21 (FAC ¶ 63.) Plaintiffs further allege that the exposure to direct sunlight”--and that the defendants “knew that J.M. would not be able to meaningfully access the benefits” of 22 23 24 Alliance Redwoods absent these accommodations. (Id. ¶¶ 64-65.) Plaintiffs’ allegations are conclusory and do not 25 mention a single activity or service that Alliance Redwoods 26 excluded J.M. from due to her disability. 27 defendants left her “without the supports necessary to 28 8 J.M.’s allegation that 1 participate with her peers equally” does not depict what specific 2 service or activity J.M. could not fully participate in, as 3 4 required under the ADA. (FAC ¶ 63); see 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Plaintiffs do not allege that Alliance Redwoods violated any 5 6 7 applicable accessibility standard or that J.M. was, as a result of a policy or practice of Alliance Redwoods, prevented from full 8 and equal enjoyment of Alliance Redwoods’ services. 9 v. Am. Multi-Cinema, Inc., 364 F.3d 1075, 1085 (9th Cir. 2004) 10 (holding that a written policy preventing a movie theater from 11 requiring a patron to move seats discriminated against a disabled 12 wheelchair patron); Johnson, 41 F. Supp. 3d at 976. 13 Plaintiffs do not allege with sufficient particularity 14 15 See Fortyune that Alliance Redwoods denied J.M. full and equal enjoyment of 16 its services because of J.M.’s disability. 17 court must grant Alliance Redwoods’ motion to dismiss J.M.’s 18 fifth cause of action for violation of the ADA. 19 20 21 C. Accordingly, the Negligent Supervision In their seventh cause of action, plaintiffs allege Alliance Redwoods is liable for negligent supervision of J.M. 22 23 24 (FAC at 11.) “[I]n order to prevail in a negligence action, plaintiffs must show that defendants owed them a legal duty, that 25 defendants breached that duty, and that the breach proximately 26 caused their injuries.” 27 Inc., 32 Cal. 4th 1138, 1145 (2004). Wiener v. Southcoast Childcare Ctrs., 28 9 1 2 3 4 Alliance Redwoods argues that plaintiffs do not allege facts indicating Alliance Redwoods had a duty to supervise J.M. as distinct from the duty owed by Pleasant Ridge. 9:4-9.) (Def.’s Mot. In the court’s October 11 Order, the court denied 5 6 7 Pleasant Ridge’s motion to dismiss the negligent supervision cause of action because plaintiffs alleged that Pleasant Ridge 8 negligently supervised J.M. in violation of California Government 9 Code section 815.2 and Pleasant Ridge is a public entity subject 10 to that section that also owes a special duty of care to prevent 11 injury to its students, and California law has long imposed a 12 13 14 15 duty on school officials to supervise children. 4:27-6:1.) (Oct. 11, Order In contrast, plaintiffs’ sole allegation regarding Alliance Redwoods’ duty to supervise J.M. in the FAC is that 16 “[d]efendants owed a duty to Plaintiffs to exercise reasonable 17 care supervising J.M.” 18 Alliance Redwoods’ duty to supervise, “supported by mere 19 conclusory statements, do[es] not suffice.” 20 21 (FAC ¶ 69.) Such a threadbare recital of Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plaintiffs do not allege facts with sufficient 22 23 24 particularity that indicate Alliance Redwoods had a duty to supervise J.M. Accordingly, the court must grant Alliance 25 Redwoods’ motion to dismiss J.M.’s seventh cause of action for 26 negligent supervision. 27 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Alliance Redwoods’ motion 28 10 1 to dismiss plaintiffs’ third, fourth, fifth, and seventh causes 2 of action as to Alliance Redwoods be, and the same hereby are, 3 GRANTED. 4 Plaintiffs have twenty days from the date this Order is 5 6 7 8 signed to file a Second Amended Complaint, if they can do so consistent with this Order. Dated: January 10, 2017 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 11

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