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Orr v. Miller Place Union Free School Dist.

July 9, 2008

PAUL ORR, WANDA ORR, AND WANDA ORR ON BEHALF OF BRIAN ORR, AN INFANT, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MILLER PLACE UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT, SETH LIPSHIE, GRACE BRINDLEY, DEBRA WHITE AND ROBERT YOUNG, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denis R. Hurley, United States District Judge

AMENDED MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiffs Paul and Wanda Orr, individually, and Wanda Orr on behalf of her infant son Brian Orr ("Plaintiffs"), filed the present action against defendants Miller Place Union Free School District ("the District"), Seth Lipshie ("Lipshie"), Grace Brindley ("Brindley"), Debra White ("White") (collectively, the "District Defendants"), and Robert Young ("Young") (collectively with the District Defendants, "Defendants") claiming violations of their civil rights emanating out of several racially discriminatory actions taken against Brian Orr while he was a student at the District's high school. Defendant Young has moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, Young's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the Complaint and are presumed true for purposes of this motion.

Plaintiffs are African-Americans who own a home in the District. Less than five percent of the District's residents, as well as its students, are African-American. Lipshie is the principal of the high school, White is the assistant principal, and Brindley is the school superintendent. Defendant Young is a student in the District.

At the time the Complaint was filed, Brian Orr was a ninth grade student in the District's high school. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have maintained a policy of discriminating against minorities through their failure and refusal to take reasonable steps to address the racial animus and hostility of Caucasian students against minority students. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Caucasian students scratched the words "fucking nigger" on Brian Orr's locker (Compl.¶ 22) and sent him racial slurs via instant messages, including the word "nigger," (id. ¶ 24). The Complaint also alleges that defendant Young engaged in bigoted conduct, such as persistently "pushing and bumping" Brian Orr in the hallways (id. ¶ 23), deliberately colliding with Brian Orr during football practice after the plays ended (id. ¶ 25), spitting on Brian Orr's locker and locker handle while making derisive comments (id. ¶ 26), publicly pushing and assaulting Brian Orr in the hallway (id. ¶ 27), and approaching another African-American student's home in the District and demanding to know if Brian Orr was present, while several Caucasian students leapt out from surrounding bushes, (id. ¶ 28). As further proof of Defendants' alleged policy of racial discrimination, it is alleged that Brian Orr was suspended for three days after he was assaulted by defendant Young.

Plaintiffs allege that although the District Defendants knew, or should have known, of the foregoing actions, they "knowingly and intentionally and negligently failed and refused to take such reasonable steps to diminish and eliminate the racial animus, hostility and bias of said students against minorities including African-Americans including Plaintiff." (Id. ¶ 37.) The Complaint asserts eight causes of action for alleged violations of civil rights. Young moves for dismissal of the Complaint in its entirety, claiming that the Complaint fails to state a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") as against him. He contends that "[t]he other causes of action pursued by the Complaint, including inadequate training and supervision and violation of 42 U.S.C. section 2000d et seq. are presumed to have no application to defendant Young." (Young's Mem. in Supp. at unnumbered page 5 n.3.) A review of the various claims asserted in the Complaint appears to confirm Young's assertion. Plaintiffs do not respond to this contention, and in their opposition papers, address the Section 1983 claim only. Accordingly, the Court assumes that the only claim asserted against Young is under Section 1983. For the reasons that follow, Young's motion to dismiss this claim is granted and the action is dismissed against Young.

DISCUSSION

I. Motion to Dismiss: Legal Standards

Rule 8(a) provides that a pleading shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court recently clarified the pleading standard applicable in evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, -- U.S. --, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007), the Court disavowed the well-known statement in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957) that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id. at 45-46. Instead, to survive a motion to dismiss under Twombly, a plaintiff must allege "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 127 S.Ct. at 1974.

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).

Id. at 1964-65 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

The Second Circuit has stated that Twombly does not require a universally heightened standard of fact pleading, but "instead requir[es] a flexible 'plausibility standard,' which obliges a pleader to amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is needed to render the claim plausible." Iqbal v. Hasty, 490 F.3d 143, 157-58 (2d Cir. 2007). In other words, Twombly "'require[s] enough facts to 'nudge [plaintiffs'] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'" In re Elevator Antitrust Litig., 502 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1974).*fn1 As always, the Court must "accept[] all ...


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