United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Francis Howell
School District, Pam Sloan, Steve Griggs, Nancy Wade, William
Vanderpool, and Kathryn Greer's second motion to dismiss
(Doc. No. 46) and Defendant Patrick Fitzgerald's second
motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 48). The motions are fully
briefed and ready for disposition.
April 12, 2017, Plaintiff Jane Doe, a high school student,
filed a complaint through counsel 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. The Court dismissed with
prejudice the Title IX counts on November 22, 2017 and
dismissed without prejudice Plaintiff's § 1983
counts with leave to amend (Doc. No. 35).
December 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint
attempting to cure the defects present in the first amended
complaint (Doc. No. 39). In Count III,  Plaintiff asserts
a Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection claim that she was
treated differently from other similarly situated female
students who filed a complaint under Title IX, in that she
was accused of being complicit in the sexual conduct and
suffered expulsion prior to any investigation. Plaintiff
further asserts that Defendants' failure to follow the
requirements of Title IX and investigate the allegations
support Plaintiff's claims that she was treated
Count IV, Plaintiff asserts a Monell claim against
the school district. There, she contends that the individual
Defendants and Defendant Fitzgerald were state actors who
violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection
by failing to properly train and supervise school district
employees as to mandated investigative requirements.
Plaintiff claims that she thoroughly and properly advised the
school of the sexual assault, thereby constituting notice to
the school. She asserts that Defendants' continued
accusations of her complicity in the sexual act constitute a
persistent pattern of unconstitutional action. As a result,
Plaintiff claims she suffered emotional distress and
their second motion to dismiss, Defendants contend that
Plaintiff again fails to state a claim under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). With regard to her equal protection
claim, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's allegation that
she was treated differently than a similarly situated female
should have been treated is based on Plaintiff's
subjective belief “of the way things ought to
be.” They also argue that Plaintiff failed to name
other females at the school who filed a complaint under Title
IX and were treated differently. As to Count IV, Defendants
argue that Plaintiff failed to plead notice and causation, as
required to establish Monell liability.
Specifically, Defendants contend that Plaintiff did not plead
that Defendants had notice or knowledge of some violation to
which they were deliberately indifferent or tacitly
authorized. Moreover, Defendants claim that Plaintiff did not
plead how this deliberate indifference or tacit authorization
caused Plaintiff to suffer harm.
Defendants argue that sovereign immunity applies to the
allegations against the individual defendants in their
official capacities, and qualified immunity applies to the
allegations against the individual Defendants in their
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,
Violation of the Equal Protection Clause (Count III)
state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must plead “(1)
that the defendant(s) acted under color of state law, and (2)
that the alleged wrongful conduct deprived the plaintiff of a
constitutionally protected federal right.” Schmidt
v. City of Bella Villa, 557 F.3d 564, 571 (8th Cir.
2009). A school district may be considered a
“person” for purposes of § 1983 liability.
Keckeisen v. Indep. Sch. Dist., 509 F.2d 1062, 1065
(8th Cir. 1975).
Equal Protection Clause may serve as the constitutional
provision violated for purposes of a § 1983 claim.
See Cox v. Sugg, 484 F.3d 1062, 1066 (8th Cir.
2007). The Equal Protection Clause requires that government
entities treat similarly situated persons alike. Hager v.
Arkansas Dep't of Health, 735 F.3d 1009, 1014 (8th
Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). To state a prima facie claim
for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment, a plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1)
she is otherwise similarly situated to members of the
unprotected class; (2) she was treated ...