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KC v. Mayo

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division

May 7, 2018

KC, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK MAYO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          BETH PHILLIPS, JUDGE

         Plaintiff initiated this case in state court, asserting claims arising from harassment and sexual misconduct directed at her when she was a student in Junior High and High School in the Marshfield R-1 School District, (“the District.”) The defendants in the case are:

• The District
• Mark Mayo, then the District's Superintendent
• Jeffrey Curley, Principal (at various times) at both the Junior High and the High School
• Doug Summers, an Assistant Principal • Keith White, an Assistant Principal
• Kevin Armstrong, an Assistant Principal or Athletic Director

         Mayo has filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 8). The other Defendants have collectively filed their own Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 6). For the following reasons, the motions are GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART; Defendants White and Armstrong are dismissed from Counts III and IV without prejudice, and Count I is dismissed in its entirety.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts can be gleaned when the Petition filed in state court (hereafter, “the Complaint”) is construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Plaintiff participated in track during her seventh and eighth grade years at the Junior High, and her coach was Johnna Feazell. (Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 11, 13.) In Plaintiff's eighth grade year (which was the Fall of 2012), Feazell was also Plaintiff's English teacher. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 13.) During this year, Feazell “began to fixate and pay inappropriate attention to” Plaintiff. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 13.) At one point, a fellow student told her mother (another teacher in the District) that Feazell “was talking constantly on the phone with [Plaintiff] and that Feazell had even showed up to see [Plaintiff] at a junior high girls' sleepover.” (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 16.) However, the Complaint does not state that the student's mother told anyone else.

         On the bus trip back from one track meet in the Spring of 2013, Feazell “insisted on sitting with [Plaintiff] and rubbing her leg for an extended and clearly inappropriate amount of time, caressing and fondling [Plaintiff's] leg in clear view of the entire bus, including students and other coaches and school officials for 30 minutes.” (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 17.) However, the Complaint does not specify the other coaches or officials who were on the bus.

         Feazell also wrote letters to Plaintiff. In one letter Feazell told Plaintiff that the two of them were “meant” to be together; in another, she told Plaintiff to destroy the letters. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 19.) Plaintiff's mother found the letters and brought them to Defendants Curley (then the principal of the Junior High) and Mayo. They promised to take action, and they instructed Feazell to have no further contact with Plaintiff. (Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 21, 23.) During that conversation, it was learned that Feazell had requested to coach softball (although she had never done so previously) because Plaintiff had expressed an interest in joining the team. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 22.) Shortly after this meeting, Plaintiff s parents discovered that Feazell was still communicating with Plaintiff, via text. In some of those texts, Feazell called Plaintiff “sweetheart” and referred to herself as “momma.” (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 24.) Plaintiff s parents brought the texts to Curley's attention, and Plaintiff s mother suggested that perhaps the police needed to be called. Curley convinced her not to call the police and reiterated his prior promise that Feazell's contact with Plaintiff would stop. (Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 25-26.)

         Plaintiffs parents took away her phone, but Feazell bought her a new one. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 29.) Feazell then communicated with Plaintiff on a regular basis (both over the phone and in person at school) in what the Complaint describes as an effort to exert control over Plaintiff and take advantage of Plaintiffs insecurities. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 30-32.) These facts were reported to school officials by teachers, but the officials are not identified. (Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 33-35.) Plaintiff only alleges that “[s]everal teachers reported Feazell to defendants) and/or each of them, for violating the prohibition on having contact with” Plaintiff. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 34.)

         The Complaint similarly asserts that other incidents were reported to or known by individuals without specifying who knew about the incident in question. For instance:

• On an unspecified date, Feazell told Plaintiff that she was going to kill herself in a car accident and arrange for Plaintiff to be blamed. Plaintiff reported this threat to a teacher, who Plaintiff alleges “reported this incident to the school and/or defendants), and or each of them.” (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 38.)
• Plaintiff describes an incident that occurred during softball practice that was seen or known by “[n]umerous school officials, including defendants) and/or each of them, ” but does not specify the officials who saw or knew of the event, much less which (if any) individual Defendants are included in this allegation. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 41.)
• Plaintiff alleges that Feazell molested her during bus trips to and from softball games and that “school officials saw this activity and/or reported it to others, ” but does not identify the officials referenced in the allegation. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 42; see also Doc. 1-2, ¶ 43.)

         These are only a few of the paragraphs in which Plaintiff has generally alleged that some fact or event was known to individuals without (1) identifying the individuals or (2) setting forth the basis for the individual's knowledge. (See also Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 54, 109, 114-15, 123, 131.)

         Feazell's attention to Plaintiff continued after Plaintiff began high school in the Fall of 2013. She began attending Plaintiffs school events and even encountered her in the high school. (Doc. 46-52.) Feazell's misconduct included sexual contact with Plaintiff. (E.g., Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 43, 50-51.) Feazell also told other teachers about her “special relationship” with Plaintiff. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 53.) There are no allegations that establish any of the Individual Defendants - or any particular person - knew about Feazell's sexual misconduct. However, on one occasion, Feazell arranged for flowers and chocolates to be delivered to Plaintiff at the school, with a card confirming that they were sent by Plaintiff. Curley - now the principal of the High School - was alerted to this event; he responded by talking to Feazell and again instructing her to stay away from, and to stop contacting, Plaintiff. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 53.)

         In October 2013, a classmate of Plaintiffs invited Plaintiff to a sleepover. Feazell approached the classmate's mother (who was a teacher at the high school) and “demanded time with [Plaintiff], and told this teacher she would be picking up [Plaintiff] at her house and taking her so that [they] could ‘hang out.' . . . Feazell then began texting her co-worker, telling her she was ‘fixing a bedroom for [Plaintiff] at her house and that she intended [for Plaintiff] to come live with her, and asking her not to contact” Plaintiff s parents. (Doc. 1 -2, ¶ 56.) The teacher contacted Defendants Summers and Curley and someone referred to as “Principal Mitchell” (who is not a party) and showed them the text messages. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 57.) The text messages were then shown to Mayo. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 59.) However, no action was taken except to again talk to Feazell. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 60.) A few days later, Feazell complained to the teacher about her reports to school officials and “confessed . . . that [Plaintiff] was making her ‘a mess' and that Plaintiff was ‘consuming her life.'” (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 62.) The teacher reported this conversation to Curley but no further action was taken. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 62.)

         Feazell continued harassing and molesting Plaintiff for the rest of Plaintiff s freshman year and into her sophomore year. (Doc. 1-2, ¶ 64.) At some point during Plaintiffs sophomore year, Plaintiffs mother found the phone Feazell had provided, which contained text messages from Feazell that evidenced her sexual relationship with Plaintiff. Law enforcement was contacted, and Feazell eventually ...


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