Ogunsalu v. Sweetwater Union High School District et al

Filing 13

ORDER granting Plaintiff's 11 Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages to Response to Motion to Dismiss; granting Defendants Sweetwater Union High School District and Jennifer Carbuccia's 8 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. Cou rt without leave to amend Defendant Sweetwater Union High School District's (SUHSD) Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff concedes that SUHSD is immune from these claims under the Eleventh Amendment. Counts one and two, as well as all claims for Declara tory Relief are dismissed with prejudice. Court grants with leave to amend Defendant Carbuccia's Motion to Dismiss. If Plantiff chooses to file an amended complaint, he must do so by 12/14/2017. Signed by Judge Cynthia Bashant on 11/21/2017. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service) (jah)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA CORNELIUS OLUSEYI OGUNSALU, 13 14 Plaintiff, v. 15 16 17 18 Case No. 17-cv-01535-BAS-MDD ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE EXCESS PAGES (ECF No. 11) AND SWEETWATER UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., (2) GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 8) Defendants. 19 20 Plaintiff Cornelius Oluseyi Ogunsalu files this lawsuit against Sweetwater 21 Union High School District (“SUHSD”) alleging that the school district 22 discriminated against him based on age and race when it refused to re-hire him as a 23 substitute teacher. (Complaint, ECF No. 1.) He further sues Jennifer Carbuccia, 24 general counsel for SUHSD, alleging that she conspired to have his teaching 25 credentials revoked and his California Clear Credential application denied at an 26 administrative law hearing. (Complaint ¶¶ 76, 77, 107, 108.) 27 Both defendants move to dismiss claiming they are immune from suit. (ECF 28 No. 8.) Ogunsalu responds, agreeing that, under Belanger v. Madera School Dist., –1– 17cv1535 1 963 F.2d 248 (9th Cir. 1992), “[t]his court has no jurisdiction over Sweetwater Union 2 High School District because it is an arm of the State” and immune from suit under 3 the Eleventh Amendment. (ECF No. 10.)1 Based on this concession, the Court 4 GRANTS SUHSD’s Motion to Dismiss with prejudice. (ECF No. 8.) 5 Carbuccia further moves to dismiss on the grounds that the single cause of 6 action against her for civil conspiracy lacks requisite specificity. (ECF No. 8). The 7 Court agrees. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Carbuccia’s Motion to Dismiss with 8 leave to amend. (ECF No. 8.) 9 10 I. STATEMENT OF FACTS—CLAIMS AGAINST CARBUCCIA 11 According to the Complaint, at “an Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) 12 hearing” on November 14-15, 2016, “various false and contrived testimonies where 13 [sic] rendered before Administrative Law Judge Adam L. Berg” which resulted in 14 Ogunsalu losing his teaching credential and being denied his Clear Credential 15 application. (Complaint ¶¶ 76-79.) Ogunsalu apparently blames this result on 16 SUHSD general counsel Jennifer Carbuccia, who he alleges conspired to have his 17 teaching credentials revoked and his California Clear Credential application denied. 18 (Complaint ¶¶106, 107.) 19 Violation of U.S.C. § 1983 against Jennifer Carbuccia” and Does 1-30. (Complaint 20 at 17-18.) Ogunsalu brings one count of “Civil Conspiracy in 21 In the Motion to Dismiss, Defendants request that the Court take judicial notice 22 of various documents including the Memorandum of Decision revoking Ogunsalu’s 23 teaching credential (“Administrative Law Decision”) (ECF No. 8-2 at Ex. A.). (ECF 24 No. 8-3). Ogunsalu does not oppose. 25 26 27 28 Ogunsalu files a forty-nine-page response in violation of both the local rules and this Court’s chamber rules. However, Ogunsalu also simultaneously files a motion for leave to file a response with excess pages. (ECF No. 11.) Because Ogunsalu is acting pro per, the Court GRANTS the motion for leave to file excess pages. 1 –2– 17cv1535 1 Courts may not usually consider material outside the complaint when ruling 2 on a motion to dismiss. Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 3 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990) (superseded by statute on other grounds). However, 4 documents specifically identified in the complaint whose authenticity is not 5 questioned by parties may also be considered. Fecht v. Price Co., 70 F.3d 1078, 1080 6 n.1 (9th Cir. 1995). Moreover, the court may consider the full text of those 7 documents even when the complaint quotes only selected portions. Id. It may also 8 consider material properly subject to judicial notice without converting the motion 9 into one for summary judgment. Barron v. Reich, 13 F.3d 1370, 1377 (9th Cir. 1994). 10 Because Ogunsalu does not oppose and because Ogunsalu’s allegations are 11 based on the Administrative Law Decision which is specifically identified in the 12 Complaint, the Court GRANTS the request to take judicial notice of Administrative 13 Law Decision. (ECF No. 8-2 at Ex. A.) 14 The Administrative Law Decision states that the administrative law hearing 15 was prosecuted by the Executive Director of California Commission on Teacher 16 Credentialing, who was represented by a Deputy Attorney General (not Carbuccia). 17 (ECF No. 8-2 at 4.) It further states that Ogunsalu did not appear and the matter 18 proceeded as a default. (Id.) The Administrative Law Judge concluded in the 19 decision that revocation was proper based on allegations that Ogunsalu “engaged in 20 unprofessional and immoral conduct” while employed at San Diego Unified School 21 District (not SUHSD) and based on testimony by principals of Bell Middle School, 22 a campus police officer assigned to Bell Middle School, the Vice Principal of Bell 23 Middle School, and a student and the father of the student at Bell Middle School. 24 Bell Middle School is in the San Diego Unified School District, not SUHSD. (Id.) 25 Carbuccia’s name is not referenced in the Administrative Law Decision. 26 // 27 // 28 // –3– 17cv1535 1 II. ANALYSIS 2 A. Standard 3 A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil 4 Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed. R. 5 Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court 6 must accept all factual allegations pleaded in the complaint as true and must construe 7 them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. 8 Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). To avoid a 9 Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, 10 rather, it must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its 11 face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim has “facial 12 plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the 13 reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” 14 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). 15 “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s 16 liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement 17 to relief.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). 18 “In civil rights cases where the plaintiff appears pro se, the court must construe 19 the pleadings liberally and must afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt.” Karim- 20 Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep’t, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Nonetheless, 21 “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ 22 requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements 23 of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. 24 Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). A court need not accept “legal conclusions” as 25 true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Despite the deference the court must pay to the 26 plaintiff’s allegations, it is not proper for the court to assume that “the [plaintiff] can 27 prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged or that defendants have violated the . . . 28 –4– 17cv1535 1 laws in ways that have not been alleged.” Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. 2 v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). 3 As a general rule, a court freely grants leave to amend a complaint that has 4 been dismissed. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). “A pro se litigant must be given leave to 5 amend his or her complaint unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the 6 complaint could not be cured by amendment.” Karim-Panahi, 839 F.2d at 623. 7 However, leave to amend may be denied when “the court determines that the 8 allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly 9 cure the deficiency.” Schreiber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture Co., 806 F.2d 10 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986). 11 12 B. Civil Conspiracy 13 “Section 1983 imposes two essential proof requirements upon a claimant: (1) 14 that a person acting under color of state law committed the conduct at issue, and (2) 15 that the conduct deprived the claimant of some right, privilege, or immunity protected 16 by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 17 632-633 (9th Cir. 1988). “To establish liability for conspiracy, a plaintiff must 18 demonstrate existence of ‘an agreement or meeting of the minds to violate 19 constitutional rights.’” E.F. v. Delano Joint Union High Sch. Dist., No. 16-cv-1166, 20 2016 WL 5846998, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 6, 2016) (quoting United Steelworkers of 21 Am. v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 865 F.2d 1539, 1540-51 (9th Cir. 1989) (en banc)). “A 22 plaintiff must allege specific facts to support the existence of the claimed 23 conspiracy.” Id. (citing Olsen v. Idaho Bd. of Med., 363 F.3d 916, 929-30 (9th Cir. 24 2004). “‘A mere allegation of conspiracy without factual specificity is insufficient.’” 25 Id. (quoting Karim-Panahi, 839 F.2d at 626). 26 Carbuccia argues that she is immune from liability under California 27 Government Code § 821.6. This may be true, but the Court is simply unable to 28 –5– 17cv1535 1 determine immunity because it is unclear from the face of the Complaint what 2 Ogunsalu is alleging that Carbuccia did that makes her liable. 3 First, Ogunsalu fails to identify how any conduct of Carbuccia deprived him 4 of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. The fact that 5 his teaching credentials were revoked is insufficient. He must allege how this 6 revocation violated a constitutional right. Second, plaintiff fails to allege how any 7 agreement Carbuccia had with any other individuals allegedly violated his 8 constitutional rights. And finally, plaintiff fails to allege any specific facts that 9 support the existence of this agreement. 10 These failures are particularly noticeable because the Administrative Law 11 Decision revoking Ogunsalu’s teaching credentials lists all the witnesses and 12 evidence justifying its decision and there is no reference to Carbuccia in the decision. 13 It is not clear what Ogunsalu is alleging Carbuccia’s role was in the administrative 14 law hearing. 15 Furthermore, in his Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss (ECF 16 No. 10), Ogunsalu argues that his cause of action for conspiracy states a claim against 17 Carbuccia with the requisite specificity, but he goes on for eight and a half pages 18 detailing numerous wrongful actions by San Diego Unified School District and its 19 general counsel (not by the defendants in this case). (Opp’n at 18-28.) The only 20 allegation he makes against Carbuccia that he claims makes her liable for conspiracy 21 is that “Sweetwater Union High School District personnel (including Jennifer 22 Carbuccia) have been aware of EVERYTHING going on with plaintiff.” (Opp’n at 23 25) (emphasis in original). Simply alleging that Carbuccia was aware of wrong- 24 doing is insufficient. 25 If Ogunsalu intends to allege a cause of action for conspiracy against 26 Carbuccia, he must outline how his constitutional or federal statutory rights were 27 violated, how Carbuccia’s actions makes her liable for this violation or what 28 –6– 17cv1535 1 agreement she had to violate these rights, and what specific facts support the 2 existence of this alleged agreement. 3 4 III. CONCLUSION 5 The Court GRANTS WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND SUHSD’s Motion 6 to Dismiss. (ECF No. 8.) Ogunsalu concedes that SUHSD is immune from these 7 claims under the Eleventh Amendment. Counts One and Two, as well as all claims 8 for Declaratory Relief, are dismissed with prejudice. The Court GRANTS WITH 9 LEAVE TO AMEND Carbuccia’s Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 8.) If Ogunsalu 10 chooses to file an amended complaint, he must do so no later than December 14, 11 2017. Ogunsalu is cautioned that he may not add any new causes of action or 12 additional defendants without leave of the Court. Fed. R. Civ. P., Rul 15(a)(2). 13 IT IS SO ORDERED. 14 15 DATED: November 21, 2017 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 –7– 17cv1535

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?