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Sage v. Tacoma School District No. 10

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

August 25, 2017

MAIKA SAGE, Plaintiff,
v.
TACOMA SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 10, MIGUEL VILLAHERMOSA, JOSHUA GARCIA, CATHERINE USHKA, ANDREA COBB, DEBBIE WINSKILL, SCOTT HEINZE, KAREN VIALLE, KURT MILLER, and CARLA SANTORNO, Defendants.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE

          ROBERT J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice. Dkt. 15. The Court has considered Plaintiff Maika Sage's Response (Dkt. 16), Defendants' Reply (Dkt. 17), and the remainder of the file herein.

         Oral argument is deemed unnecessary. LCR 7(b)(4).

         BACKGROUND

         a. The no trespass letter.

         The present motion centers on alleged facts surrounding a no trespass letter issued by the District against Plaintiff Sage. (The facts giving rise to the issuance of the no trespass letter are important to the case generally but not important to resolving the present motion.) The no trespass letter “strictly prohibits” Plaintiff's “presence on District premises, property, campuses, and at any school activities.” Dkt. 16 at 17, 18.[1] The prohibition is “in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during school and non-school hours[.]” Id. The letter warns that “[i]f you are present on any District premises, property, or campuses or if you appear at any event or activity being conducted on District premises, property, or campuses you will be referred to law enforcement for trespass.” Id. The letter provides for unspecified “alternative methods of obtaining information” if the District either “receives a valid court order or complete and official parenting plan[.]” Id. Defendant Miguel Villahermosa, Director of Safety and Security for the District, issued the no trespass letter on March 2, 2014, and it was renewed again by letter on August 18, 2014 and August 18, 2015. Dkt. 1-2 at ¶36. Id.

         b. Board of Directors for the District

         The Motion to Dismiss is brought by members of the Board of Directors for the District, defendants Catherine Ushka, Andrea Cobb, Debbie Winskill, Scott Heinze, Karen Vialle, and Kurt Miller (collectively, “Board Defendants”)[2]. The Board Defendants are named in their individual capacities “with respect to civil penalties” in the First Cause of Action for violations of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), and they are named in their official capacities as to the Third Cause of Action for constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and “for any claims for injunctive or declaratory relief, ” Dkt. 1-2 at ¶5. Only the First and Third Cause of Actions seek injunctive or declaratory relief. See id. at ¶¶47, 57.

         The First Cause of Action alleges that the District held “between two to five Board meetings each month from March 24, 2014 to the present date” in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Id. at ¶44. Specifically, “in violation of RCW 42.30.030, which requires Board meetings to be open to all members of the public . . . Plaintiff and several other members of the public were excluded from these Board meetings, due to District-wide ‘no trespass letters.'” Id. at ¶44. As a result, it is alleged, “all Board actions . . . is [sic] null and void[, ]” the Board Defendants are liable for civil penalties, and Plaintiff Sage is entitled to attorney fees. Id. at ¶¶45, 46, 48. The claim also seeks injunctive or mandamus relief to “requir[e] the District and its Board members to open all District Board members [sic] to all members of the public, including Plaintiff and any other person barred . . . by ‘no trespass letters.'” Id. at ¶47.

         c. Superintendent Carla Santorno

         The Motion to Dismiss is also brought by Superintendent Carla Santorno. Dkt. 15 at 5. Defendant Santorno “is being sued solely in her official capacity with respect to Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and for any claims for injunctive or declaratory relief.” Dkt. 1-2 at ¶6. The Complaint makes no mention of Defendant Santorno anywhere except in an introductory paragraph. See id. The Complaint does not elsewhere allege that Defendant Santorno was personally involved with actions taken by the Board of Directors actions or that she was personally involved with the District's issuance of the no trespass letter. See generally, Dkt. 1-2.

         STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) motions to dismiss may be based on either the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Department, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Material allegations are taken as admitted and the complaint is construed in the plaintiff's favor. Keniston v. Roberts, 717 F.2d 1295 (9th Cir. 1983). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)(internal citations omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative ...


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