United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge.
collectively move for judgment on the pleadings on all counts
asserted against them. (Doc. No. 12). Plaintiff does not
oppose the motion. For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.
case before me arises out of an incident involving a
bi-racial student at Defendant Benton-Carrol-Salem Local
School District, a predominantly Caucasian school. (Doc. No.
1 at 3). Specifically, Plaintiff claims that his teacher,
Defendant Russ Exlos-Raber, referred to him as “a brown
dude” to the class on a day Plaintiff was absent.
Id. at 2. Though the exact wording is contested,
Exlos-Raber admitted to referring to Plaintiff as
“brown skinned” in an email to Defendants Guy
Parmigian and Laramie Spurlock, superintendent and principal
of the school, respectively. Id. at 2-3. Upon
Plaintiff's return to school, Plaintiff alleges Defendant
Exlos-Raber again singled Plaintiff out, asking him to hold
out his hands and say what color they were. Id. At
3. Following the course of events, Plaintiff was taken out of
the choir class and placed in a class he had already taken.
same pleading requirements apply to a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6) and a motion for judgment under the pleadings
pursuant to Rule 12(c). Sensations, Inc. v. City of Grand
Rapids, 526 F.3d 291, 295 (6th Cir. 2008). A complaint
must state sufficient facts to, when accepted as true, state
a claim that is not merely speculative but “plausible
on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 556-57, 570 (2007)) (explaining that the
plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” and
requires the complaint to allow the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
alleged misconduct); see also Albrecht v. Treon, 617
F.3d 890, 893 (6th Cir. 2010). Conclusory allegations or
legal conclusions masquerading as factual allegations will
not suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “For
purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all
well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the
opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be
granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly
entitled to judgment.” S. Ohio Bank v. Merril
Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 479 F.2d 478,
480 (6th Cir. 1973).
asserted claims of (1) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights
violations; (2) Title VI Civil Rights Act of 1964 violations;
(3) 14th Amendment equal protection violations; and (4)
negligent hiring, training, and supervision of employees.
(Doc. No. 1). Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings
for all claims. (Doc. No. 12, 13). A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Violation of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment Rights
“To succeed on [a] § 1983 claim, [the plaintiff]
must prove: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by
the Constitution or federal laws; and (2) that the
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” Toth v. City of Toledo, 480 F.
App'x 827, 831-32 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Parratt v.
Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981) (overruled on other
grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327
(1986)). By the language of the complaint, Plaintiff appears
to be asserting deprivation of his rights under the Due
Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth
Process Clause is not confined by specific bounds, but is
instead a more fluid concept. Rochin v. California,
342 U.S. 165, 170-72 (1952). Because of the vague nature, the
Court has generally been reluctant to expand the bounds of
substantive due process protection, reserving it to
“matters relating to marriage, family, procreation, and
the right to bodily integrity.” Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 272 (1994); see also Collins
v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 125
(1992) (“The doctrine of judicial self-restraint
requires us to exercise the utmost care whenever we are asked
to break new ground in this field.”); Rochin,
342 U.S. at 172 (holding due process violations “do
more than offend some fastidious squeamishness or private
sentimentalism” but instead must “shock[ ] the
conscience.”). When evaluating a claim of this nature,
“[i]t is important…to focus on the allegations
in the complaint to determine how petitioner describes the
constitutional right at stake and what the [public official]
allegedly did to deprive [the petitioner] of that
right.” Collins, 503 U.S. at 125.
Plaintiff alleges that his life and liberty were deprived,
but has failed to state any facts to support this allegation.
While Exlos-Raber's comments were racially insensitive,
they do not shock the conscience. Plaintiff was not subjected
to continual racial harassment and was removed from the class
soon after the incident. Though Plaintiff did not take choir
after this time, he was not deprived of his right to attend
school nor does he allege any other ramifications suffered as
a result of the incident. Since Plaintiff has not stated any
facts to state how any Defendant deprived him of his due
process rights, the § 1983 Due Process Clause claim must
fail as a matter of law.
remaining constitutional right asserted by Plaintiff falls
under the Fourteenth Amendment's right to equal
protection. “The Equal Protection Clause prevents
states from making distinctions that (1) burden a fundamental
right; (2) target a suspect class; or (3) intentionally treat
one individual differently from others similarly situated
without any rational basis.” Johnson v.
Bredesen, 624 F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2010). “[A]
person bringing an action under the Equal Protection Clause
must show intentional discrimination against him because of
his membership in a particular class, not merely that he was
treated unfairly as an individual.” Bass v.
Robinson, 167 F.3d 1041, 1050 (6th Cir. 1999). Because
of the integrated nature of the § 1983 claim based on
the Equal Protection Clause and independent claim on the
same, Defendants' respective liability for both is
discussed in the subsections below.
Defendant Benton-Carrol-Salem Local School District
doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply to
§ 1983 actions against municipalities. Monell v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S.
658, 691 (1978). A municipality is liable only when the
tortfeasor has acted “pursuant to official municipal
policy” that acted as the “moving force of the
constitutional violation.” Id. at 691, 695.
The unconstitutional policy need not be written, but may be
“practices of state officials…so permanent and
well settled as to constitute a ‘custom or usage'
with the force of law.” Id. ...