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Lopez v. Webster Central School District

March 22, 2006

NORBERTO LOPEZ & EILEEN M. LOPEZ, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENTS AND NATURAL GUARDIANS OF N.L. AN INFANT OVER THE AGE OF 14 YEARS, AND N.L., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WEBSTER CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, WEBSTER BOARD OF EDUCATION, JOHN WALKER INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRINCIPAL OF WEBSTER-THOMAS HIGH SCHOOL, AND MARY KIDD INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL OF WEBSTER-THOMAS HIGH SCHOOL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

This case is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's second cause of action alleging a violation of plaintiffs' rights under the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution. For the reasons outlined below, defendants' application is granted in its entirety, and plaintiffs' second cause of action is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs alleged*fn1 three causes of action in an amended complaint filed on December 12, 2005, as follows: (1) defendants' actions violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d;*fn2 (2) defendants violated plaintiff N.L.'s rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (3) defendants negligently failed to act on plaintiffs' complaints.

In addition to opposing defendants' motion to dismiss, plaintiffs have also filed a cross-motion seeking leave to file a second amended complaint, which they allege is attached to their moving papers. (Kermish affirmation (# 20-2) ¶ 9.) However, plaintiffs in fact failed to attach any such second amended complaint to their papers.

Turning to plaintiffs' amended complaint, it includes the following factual allegations regarding all of plaintiffs' causes of action:

Plaintiff Nicholas Lopez was treated differently than other similarly situated students by being prevented from attending school as a result of the failure by the Defendants to act; by being denied homework, though other similarly situated students were given homework when they could not attend school; by being blamed for the hostile work environment when the students who harassed him were not blamed, though they harassed Nicholas for months without any provocation on his part; by Defendant Walker stating to Nicholas that he failed to take responsibility for his own actions, while failing to state so to the students who harassed Plaintiff for months. (Compl. ¶ 40.) In the second cause of action, plaintiffs further allege, "Plaintiff Nicholas Lopez was treated differently from similarly situated students in his school," (Compl. ¶ 56), and that:

Plaintiff, Nicholas Lopez, was treated differently than other similarly situated students by being prevented from attending school as a result of the failure of the Defendants to stop the harassment; by being denied homework, though other similarly situated students were given homework when they could not attend school; by being blamed for the hostile work environment when the students who harassed him were not blamed, though they harassed Nicholas for months without any provocation on his part; by Defendant Walker stating to Nicholas that he failed to take responsibility for his own actions, while failing to state so to the students who harassed Plaintiff for months. (Compl. ¶ 58.)

STANDARDS OF LAW

Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

To prevail on a motion for dismissal under Rule 12, a defendant must show that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. See H.J. Inc. v. Northwest Bell Telephone Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249 (1989); see also 2 MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE, § 12.34[1][a] (Matthew Bender 3d ed.). "In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a district court must limit itself to facts stated in the complaint or in documents attached to the complaint as exhibits or incorporated in the complaint by reference." Kramer v. Time Warner, Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991).The Court must view the complaint, and draw all reasonable inferences, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id.; see also 2 MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE, § 12.34[1][b] (Matthew Bender 3d ed.) (court must accept plaintiff's factual allegations as true). Under the modern rules of pleading, a plaintiff need only provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2), and that "all pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice," FED. R. CIV. P. 8(f). On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the issue before the Court "is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim." Villager Pond, Inc. v. Town of Darien, 56 F.3d 375, 378 (2d Cir. 1995).

Finally, while the plaintiff need not set out in detail the facts upon which he bases a claim, he must provide the "defendant fair notice of the nature of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests." Washington v. James, 782 F.2d 1134, 1140 (2d Cir. 1986) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 [1957]). Where the allegations are so baldly conclusory that they fail to give notice of the basic events and circumstances of which the plaintiff complains, they are meaningless as a practical matter and legally insufficient to state a claim. Barr v. Abrams, 810 F.2d 358, 363 (2d Cir. 1987)(citing Ostrer v. Aronwald, 567 F.2d 551, 553 [2d Cir. 1977]; Koch v. ...


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