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Doe v. Francis Howell School District

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 22, 2017

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANCIS HOWELL SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Francis Howell School District, Pam Sloan, Steve Griggs, Nancy Wade, William Vanderpool, and Kathryn Greer's motions to dismiss (Doc. 21); Defendant Patrick Fitzgerald's motion to dismiss, to strike, or for more definite statement (Doc. 19); and Defendant Patrick Fitzgerald's second motion to dismiss (Doc. 31). The motions are fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 12, 2017, Plaintiff Jane Doe, a high school student, filed a complaint asserting violations of Title IX and 28 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of a sexual assault on school grounds and the subsequent investigation conducted by Defendant Francis Howell School District (“School District”), Defendants Pam Sloan, Steve Griggs, Nancy Wade, William Vanderpool, and Kathryn Greer (“individual District Defendants”), and Defendant Officer Patrick Fitzgerald. Defendants filed the motions to dismiss presently before the Court.

         Plaintiff did not respond to the motions. Instead, on July 21, 2017, she requested leave from the Court to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 26). The School District and the individual District Defendants opposed the motion. (Doc. 28). On July 25, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to amend but, as requested by Defendants, ordered that the previously-filed motions to dismiss would apply to the first amended complaint. (Doc. 29). Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss jointly filed by the School District and the individual District Defendants, and those Defendants filed a reply. Plaintiff did not file any opposition to Defendant Fitzgerald's motion to dismiss, to strike, or, in the alternative, for more definite statement, which prompted Defendant Fitzgerald to file a subsequent motion to dismiss based on Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Court's order. (Doc. 31). Plaintiff did not respond to that motion.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint consists of four counts. Count I, directed at the School District only, asserts a violation of Title IX based on its deliberate indifference to the alleged sexual assault. Count II, also directed at the School District only, claims that the School District retaliated against Plaintiff by declining to investigate the assault or comply with state reporting requirements, in violation of Title IX. Count III asserts § 1983 violations against all Defendants, and Count IV asserts Monell liability against all Defendants for failure to train and supervise.[1]

         LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ' ” meaning that it must contain “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         The reviewing court must accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as true and construe them in plaintiff's favor, but it is not required to accept the legal conclusions the plaintiff draws from the facts alleged. Id. at 678; Retro Television Network, Inc. v. Luken Commc'ns, LLC, 696 F.3d 766, 768-69 (8th Cir. 2012). Ultimately, the question is not whether the claimant “will ultimately prevail . . . but whether his complaint [is] sufficient to cross the federal court's threshold.” Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 530 (2011).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Violation of Title IX - Student-on-Student Harassment (Count I) (Defendant School District)

         Title IX provides in pertinent part that:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or ...

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