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I.V. v. Wenatchee School District No. 246

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

October 18, 2017

I.V., a minor child; and APRIL OLIVARES and FERNANDO OLIVARES VARGAS, parents of I.V., Plaintiffs,
v.
WENATCHEE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 246, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS 42 U.S.C. § 1983 CLAIM

          THOMAS O. RICE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT is Defendants Wenatchee School District, No. 246, Taunya Brown, Jeremy Wheatley, Ronda Brender, Kelli Ottley, and Ellen McIrvin's (collectively “Defendants” for the purposes of this motion) Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 20). The Motion was submitted for consideration with oral argument. The Court heard oral argument from the parties on October 18, 2017. For the reasons discussed below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 20) is GRANTED.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides that a defendant may move to dismiss the complaint or a particular claim for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” To survive dismissal, a plaintiff must allege “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This requires the plaintiff to provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         When deciding, the Court may consider the plaintiff's allegations and any “documents incorporated into the complaint by reference . . . .” Metzler Inv. GMBH v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., 540 F.3d 1049, 1061 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Tellabs, 551 U.S. at 322). Plaintiff's “allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff[, ]” but “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.” In re Stac Elecs. Sec. Litig., 89 F.3d 1399, 1403 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation and brackets omitted).

         BACKGROUND[1]

         The instant action arises out of an unfortunate series of events that occurs all too often: bullying at school. Plaintiffs allege that the minor Defendant Y.A.F. subjected the minor Plaintiff I.V. to physical cruelty and public humiliation- leading to serious emotional distress, anorexia and, ultimately, severe medical complications culminating in a suicide attempt. ECF No. 26 at 6-13. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege Defendant Y.A.F. subjected Plaintiff I.V. to verbal abuse (calling I.V. “fat” and “gay boy”), threats (“if you tell anyone I will have my brothers beat you up”; threats against I.V.'s life), and physical harassment (Y.A.F. “twisted I.V.'s nipples causing severe pain”) over an extended time at Orchard Middle School (OMS), which is part of the Wenatchee School District (WSD). ECF No. 26 at 6-8.

         According to the Complaint, although Y.A.F. subjected I.V. to continual harassment beginning in September, 2013, I.V. did not tell his parents about the harassment until early 2015, [2] and refused to disclose the identity of Y.A.F. until January 3, 2016. ECF No. 26 at 6-9. On January 4, 2016, the day after I.V. disclosed the identity of Y.A.F., Ms. Olivares (I.V.'s mother) met with Ms. Brown, the principal at OMS, and relayed the identity of Y.A.F. as the student bullying I.V. During the meeting, I.V. “burst into the room yelling ‘Y.A.F. just threatened to kill me!'” ECF No. 26 at 9. Ms. Brown promised to take action, but the Complaint alleges that she did nothing. ECF No. 26 at 9-10.

         Ms. Olivares reported the bullying to the police. ECF No. 26 at 10. The next day, police arrested Y.A.F. for harassment. ECF No. 26 at 10. Police investigation uncovered video evidence of the harassment, and Y.A.F. admitted to threatening I.V. ECF No. 26 at 10. On January 19, 2016, the Chelan County Superior Court issued an Order of Protection restraining Y.A.F. from any contact with I.V. and prohibiting Y.A.F. from attending Orchard Middle School. ECF No. 26 at 10. On January 19, 2016, Ms. Olivares left a message for Ms. Brown relaying the substance of the Court Order. ECF No. 26 at 10. However, on January 29, 2016, Ms. Brown left a voice mail for Ms. Olivares stating that Y.A.F. could attend OMS. ECF No. 26 at 10.

         On February 1, 2016, I.V. reported to his parents that Y.A.F. had been in school throughout the day. ECF No. 26 at 11. On February 2, 2016, Ms. Olivares contacted OMS and confronted Ms. Brown, indicating Y.A.F. had threatened I.V. the day before. ECF No. 26 at 11. Ms. Brown claimed to have contacted the school's attorney who told Ms. Brown Y.A.F. could attend school. ECF No. 26 at 11. As the Complaint alleges:

What was ultimately determined is that WSD and OMS failed to distinguish between a temporary order and a permanent order, and due to their failure [Y.A.F.] could come back to OMS. . . . Ms. Olivares tried repeatedly to get Ms. Brown and Ms. Brenner to understand the distinction between the orders, but she was repeatedly ignored and the issue was not addressed.

ECF No. 1 at 11. “On February 4, 2016, Ms. Olivares contacted Mr. Helm, WSD Executive Director of Student Services, who admitted the ‘school lawyer' could not locate the permanent order but only the temporary order and he blamed the attorney.” ECF No. 26 at 11-12.

         The Complaint is silent as to any relevant events for the remainder of that school year. The next school year - the fall of 2016 - Y.A.F. attended Westside High School, an alternative high school operated by the Wenatchee School District, while I.V. attended Wenatchee High School. ECF No. 26 at 12. The Complaint alleges:

On August 30, 2016, the first day of school, Y.A.F. was at the Wenatchee High School and sought and encountered I.V. Despite the restraining order he and three of his friends stood 70 feet from I.V. using threatening body language and were “sizing him up.” Ms. Olivares called Ms. Brown to report the incident, who acknowledged Y.A.F. was not supposed to be on the property and he would call Officer Miller. Officer Miller called Ms. Olivares and said the next time Y.A.F. will be arrested for trespassing.

ECF No. 26 at 12-13. According to the Complaint, “[d]ue to the continued bullying and harassment, I.V. attempted, unsuccessfully, to end his life in October, 2016[, ]” and that, “[d]ue to the emotional stress and flashbacks, I.V. is suffering a relapse of his anorexia and [has] recently been hospitalized again.” ECF No. 26 at 13.

         Plaintiffs filed suit against the Wenatchee School District and related employees, asserting a cause of action for violation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Plaintiff's Due Process rights to be free from the invasion of bodily integrity were infringed.[3] ECF No. 26 at 17-18, ¶¶ 21-23. The Wenatchee School District and its employees now move the Court to dismiss the § 1983 claim, asserting Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. ECF No. 20. This Motion is before the Court.

         DISCUSSION

         42 U.S.C. § 1983 allows private citizens to bring a claim against a state or municipality where the state or municipality deprives them of their constitutional rights. Johnson v. City of Seattle, 474 F.3d 634, 638 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Monellv. Dep't of Soc. Serv. of ...


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