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Bishop v. Oakstone Academy

March 5, 2007

COURTLAND BISHOP, ET. AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
OAKSTONE ACADEMY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Marbley

Magistrate Judge King

OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, III, V, VI, and VII of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. Defendants Oakstone Academy ("Oakstone"), the Ohio State University Children's Center for Developmental Enrichment ("CCDE"), CCDE Therapies, Rebecca Morrison ("Morrison"), Galen Stover, Douglas Brown, Elliot Brody, Esther Brody, James Martin, Edward Snodgrass, and Jenny Stover (collectively "Defendants") move this Court to dismiss Counts I, II, III, V, VI, and VII of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 12(b) for failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted, or, in the alternative, for failure to join an indispensable party. In a separate motion, Defendant the Ohio Department of Education moved for summary judgment on the final remaining count (Count IV) of the Amended Complaint.

For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, III, V, VI, and VII of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

II. FACTS

Worthington School District ("Worthington") placed C.B. ("Minor Plaintiff") at Oakstone after he was identified as a child with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq., in 2002. At the time of his placement, Minor Plaintiff was three years old. Minor Plaintiff's parents placed his non-disabled twin brother at Oakstone to serve as a peer model. During Minor Plaintiff's time at Oakstone, Worthington payed for his tuition.

Defendant CCDE is a private, non-profit organization that is organized under Ohio law for charitable and educational purposes. Oakstone is a name registered by CCDE which describes the portion of CCDE's business which operates a private school.*fn1 Oakstone's purpose is to "provide services for enhancing the lives if children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families."*fn2

Minor Plaintiff attended Oakstone from 2002 until 2005. On or about April 26, 2005, C.B. was diagnosed with a form of autism, and CCDE prepared an Individualized Education Plan ("IEP") to address his educational needs. Agents of CCDE, Worthington, and Minor Plaintiff's parents all signed the IEP. C.B.'s parents also received a copy of the "parent notice of procedural safeguards."

Oakstone provided educational services to C.B. pursuant to the IEP until on or about August 25, 2005, when Oakstone allegedly expelled C.B. after his mother "questioned" his classroom assignment. Minor Plaintiff's parents later withdrew C.B.'s brother from Oakstone.

On October 25, 2005 Plaintiffs filed a Complaint Notice and Request for Due Process Hearing with the ODE. Plaintiff alleges that all notices regarding the hearing indicated that the only parties to the hearing would be Plaintiffs and Worthington. Prior to the hearing, Plaintiffs withdrew this complaint and hearing request. Instead, Plaintiffs Courtland and Michelle Bishop, individually and as next friends of Minor Plaintiff, filed this action.

Plaintiffs claim that, as a result of Minor Plaintiff's alleged expulsion from Oakstone, Defendants: 1) violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §504; 2) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12131 ("ADA"); 3) denied C.B. a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq. ("IDEA") and ; 4) denied Plaintiffs due process in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiffs also claim that Defendants are liable for breach of contract and tortious interference with contract. Plaintiffs further claim that C.B. suffered academic, social and sensory regression, emotional distress, economic and emotional damages and loss of parental and filial consortium entitling Plaintiffs to compensatory and punitive damages.

All Defendants, except the ODE, have moved to dismiss the relevant counts of the Amended Complaint

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, this Court is limited to evaluating whether a plaintiff's complaint sets forth allegations sufficient to make out the elements of a cause of action. Windsor v. The Tennessean, 719 F.2d 155, 158 (6th Cir. 1983). A complaint should not be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) "unless it appears beyond doubt that the [p]laintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Lillard v. Shelby County Bd. of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 724 (6th Cir. 1996) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). This Court must "construe the complaint liberally in the plaintiff's favor and accept as true all factual allegations and permissible inferences therein." Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. While the complaint need not specify every detail of a plaintiff's claim, it must give the defendant "fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Gazette v. City of Pontiac,41 F.3d 1061, 1064 (6th Cir. 1994). While liberal, this standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. Allard v. Weitzman (In re DeLorean Motor Co.), 991 F.2d 1236, 1240 (6th Cir. 1993). A complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations with respect to all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory. Scheid v. Fanny Candy Shop Inc. 859 F.2d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 1988).

IV. LAW and ANALYSIS

A. Counts I, II, and III

In Count I of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs seek to recover under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq.*fn3

In Count II of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants abridged his due process rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983.

In Count III of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.

All three of these complaints arise from Defendants alleged violation of the terms of the IEP and subsequent expulsion of the Minor Plaintiff in an around August 25, 2005.

Defendants move to dismiss Counts I, II, and II of the Amended Complaint because, among other reasons, Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing this action.

It is well settled that a plaintiff must exhaust administrative remedies before bringing suit to obtain relief that is available under the IDEA. 20 U.S.C. §1415(1); Doe v. Smith, 879 F.2d 1340, 1343 (6th Cir. 1989); Crocker v. Tennessee Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass'n, 873 F.2d 933, 935 (6th Cir. 1989). The IDEA specifically provides for a due process ...


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