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Luo v. Baldwin Union Free School District

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 12, 2014

JENN-CHING LUO, Plaintiff,
v.
BALDWIN UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT and MICHELLE GALLO Defendants.

Jenn-Ching Lou, pro se, Baldwin, NY, for Plaintiff.

Jeltje DeJong, Esq., Kelly E. Wright, Esq., Devitt Spellman Barrett, L.L.P., Smithtown, NY, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Jenn-Ching Luo ("Plaintiff") brought this action to redress perceived shortcomings in the way defendant Baldwin Union Free School District (the "District") and several individual defendants addressed the educational needs of B.L., Plaintiff's disabled child. The remaining defendants are Michelle Gallo, the director of pupil services for the District, and the District (collectively, "Defendants"), whom Plaintiff alleges violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code ("Section 1983"), and Section 1985 of Title 42 of the United States Code ("Section 1985"). Currently pending before the Court are: (1) Plaintiff's appeal from Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson's May 20, 2013 Order during a conference (Pl.'s Appeal, Docket Entry 62), and (2) Plaintiff's motion to strike Defendant's untimely Answer (Pl.'s Mot. to Strike, Docket Entry 63). For the following reasons, Judge Tomlinson's order is AFFIRMED and Plaintiff's motion to strike is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

The Court presumes familiarity with the facts of this case, which are detailed in the Court's prior Orders, particularly the February 12, 2014 Memorandum & Order ("Feb. 2014 Order, " Docket Entry 85) and the March 21, 2013 Memorandum & Order ("Mar. 2013 Order, " Docket Entry 34). Briefly, Plaintiff's child, B.L, was a student in the District. (Mar. 2013 Order at 2.) According to Plaintiff, Gallo presented a flawed evaluation report from 2009 regarding B.L. and failed to address Plaintiff's suggestion of a different school for B.L. during a July 2011 Committee on Special Education ("CSE") meeting. (Mar. 2013 Order at 2-3.) Plaintiff's claims stem from his dissatisfaction with the results of that meeting.

II. Procedural Background

Plaintiff originally commenced this action against the District and Gallo as well as Susan B. Gibson ("Gibson"), the District's legal consultant, and Robert Briglio ("Briglio"), the hearing officer during the CSE meeting. He asserted the following federal claims: first, a claim that all Defendants violated the IDEA by (a) failing to consider information regarding B.L.'s placement at Camphill, a school in Pennsyvlania, or a similar setting; (b) failing to improve B.L.'s language and social skills; and (c) conducting administrative proceedings in which erroneous arguments were presented and adopted; second, a Section 1983 claim that all Defendants deprived Plaintiff of his rights under the IDEA for the same reasons; third, Section 1983 and 1985 claims against Gallo and Gibson for conspiring to violate Plaintiff's rights under the IDEA, and; fourth, a Section 1983 claim against Gallo, Gibson, and Briglio for depriving Plaintiff of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Mar. 2013 Order at 5.) The Complaint also asserted a state law claim of negligence against Gallo. (Mar. 2013 Order at 5.) After the Court's March 2013 Order, Plaintiff's only remaining claims are his claim for IDEA administrative review, and his Section 1983 claims against Gallo and the District for (a) failing to consider information regarding B.L.'s placement in a Camphill-like setting and thus not providing Plaintiff with a meaningful opportunity to recommend an educational placement, and (b) conducting administrative proceedings in which erroneous arguments were made and adopted. (Mar. 2013 Order at 22.)

Plaintiff subsequently filed several motions, including a motion for reconsideration of the March 2013 Order (see Docket Entry 37). In addressing that motion, the Court also ruled on Plaintiff's pending motions to strike the District and Gallo's Answer (Docket Entry 63), Plaintiff's motion for sanctions (Docket Entry 73), and Plaintiff's motion to dismiss a counterclaim filed by Briglio (Docket Entry 76). Ultimately, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, reserved judgment on Plaintiff's motion to strike the answer, denied Plaintiff's motion for sanctions, and dismissed Briglio's counterclaim. (See Feb. 2014 Order at 13.) As it pertains to the motion to strike, the Court also ordered the District and Gallo to show cause as to why their Answer should not be stricken. (See Feb. 2014 Order at 9-10.)

In addition, during the course of litigation, Plaintiff also submitted a Pre-Discovery Disclosure Statement, seeking to interrogate the court reporter from the administrative proceeding, as well as Briglio's phone records during the months of the hearing. (Pl.'s Disc. Stmt., Docket Entry 45, at 3-4.) Judge Tomlinson permitted Plaintiff to serve narrowly tailored document requests relating to Plaintiff's remaining claims, but did not permit Plaintiff to interrogate the court reporter or to access to Briglio's phone records. (Minute Entry, Docket Entry 56, at 1.)

DISCUSSION

Currently, Plaintiff appeals Judge Tomlinson's Order denying his discovery requests. Also pending is Plaintiff's motion to strike the Answer. The District and Gallo have responded to the Court's Order to Show Cause, and this matter is also ripe ...


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