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A.T. v. Everett School District

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

February 28, 2017

A.T., Plaintiff,
EVERETT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.




         This matter comes before the court on Defendant Craig Verver's motion to dismiss Plaintiff A.T.'s complaint as untimely. (Mot. (Dkt. #12).) A.T. opposes the motion (see Resp. (Dkt. # 15)), and Mr. Verver has filed a reply (see Reply (Dkt. # 17)). Having considered these submissions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law, and considering itself fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS Mr. Verver's motion and GRANTS A.T. leave to amend her complaint, as detailed herein.

         II. BACKGROUND[2]

         A.T.[3] attended a high school in the Everett School District from 2001 to 2003. (Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 7) ¶ 7.) Mr. Verver was one of A.T.'s teachers during the 2001-2002 school year and the 2002-2003 school year. (Id.) A.T. was also a cabinet member of the National Honor Society, for which Mr. Verver served as a faculty adviser. (Id.) During the 2001-2002 school year, Mr. Verver singled out A.T. in class, teased her, and gave her special attention. (Id. ¶ 9.) Mr. Verver told A.T. that she would need to take "calculated risks" to be exceptional and extraordinary in order to stand out for college admissions. (Id.) At the end of the school year, Mr. Verver encouraged A.T. to run for honor-society president, a position that required working closely with him in his capacity as faculty adviser. (Id. ¶ 10.) A.T. was elected honor-society president for the following year, and Mr. Verver gave A.T. his personal contact information so that they could be in touch over the summer.

         In October 2002, A.T. attended a school dance, after which she stayed to help clean up. (Id. ¶ 11) After the dance ended, Mr. Verver kept A.T. for hours and engaged her in conversation about their "unique[] relationship." (Id.) Mr. Verver told A.T. that "he was worried about his role in her life and was envious of her parents because A.T. might leave him after graduation while she would always be her parents' child." (Id.) Mr. Verver expressed to A.T. that he was concerned about her future and protective regarding who she may choose to date or marry. (Id.) Mr. Verver also shared with A.T. that he was having marital problems. (Id.)

         Mr. Verver later confided in A.T. that his wife was pregnant and that he was "crushed about the news." (Id. ¶ 12.) A.T. also began confiding in Mr. Verver about her relationships with boys. (Id. ¶ 13.) During one conversation on this topic, A.T. told Mr. Verver that she was uncomfortable expressing physical boundaries. (Id.) In response, Mr. Verver sat next to A.T. and put his hand on her thigh. (Id.) Mr. Verver asked A.T. whether, if a date put his hand on her thigh, she would be able to tell him "no." (Id.)

         A.T. turned 18 on January 5, 2003. (Id. ¶ 14) Later that month, she visited Mr. Verver's classroom. (Id.) Mr. Verver greeted A.T. with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. (Id.) The next time A.T. saw Mr. Verver, he asked her how she felt about the kiss he gave her. (Id.) A.T. told Mr. Verver that it made her nervous. (Id.) Mr. Verver kissed A.T. on the cheek again. (Id.)

         At the end of January 2013, A.T. was in Mr. Verver's classroom on a weekend. (Id. ¶ 15). Mr. Verver told A.T. he was going to "steal a kiss" and kissed A.T. on the mouth. (Id.) A.T. became "very upset" and felt like there was a misunderstanding between her and Mr. Verver. (Id.) Mr. Verver told A.T. that he was going to "steal another kiss, " and he kissed her again. (Id.) Mr. Verver suggested that they move to the couch, and Mr. Verver kissed A.T. and put his hands up her shirt. (Id.) A.T. felt "powerless" and "scared" about making Mr. Verver angry. (Id.) When A.T. returned home later in the day, she "hid in the closet and cried uncontrollably." (Id.) A.T. considered switching out of Mr. Verver's class, but she was too afraid of the potential repercussions. (Id.) The next school day, Mr. Verver pulled A.T. aside and asked her to stop by before school to discuss what had happened between them. (Id.) Mr. Verver told A.T. it could never happen again, but then pulled her in and kissed her saying, "Well, we both knew we couldn't help ourselves." (Id.)

         Sexual contact between A.T. and Mr. Verver continued to escalate. (Id. ¶ 16.) In April 2003, A.T. went to Mr. Verver's classroom to gather supplies for a car wash. (Id.) Mr, Verver produced a pack of condoms and asked A.T. to put one on him. (Id.) A.T. hesitated, and Mr. Verver asked her, "Do you want me to wear this? Then put it on me." (Id.) A.T. acquiesced, and the two had sexual intercourse. (Id.) After this encounter, Mr. Verver and A.T. had sex on multiple occasions in his classroom and in other locations in the school. (Id. ¶ 17.) A.T. told Mr. Verver several times that she did not want to continue. (Id.) A.T.'s complaint does not indicate when A.T. and Mr. Verver's final sexual encounter occurred, but A.T. does not allege any sexual contact after 2003.

         In 2016, A.T. brought suit against Mr. Verver, the Everett School District, and district superintendent Carol Whitehead under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A.T. claims that Mr. Verver sexually "groomed" and assaulted A.T. in violation of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. (Id. ¶ 23.) A.T. seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the violation of her constitutional rights as well as "mental anguish and emotional distress." (Id. ¶¶ 21-22.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Livid Holdings Ltd. v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., 416 F.3d 940, 946 (9th Cir. 2005). The court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc.,135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998). "A claim may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) on the ground that it is barred by the applicable statute of limitations only when 'the running of the statute is apparent on the face of the ...

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