United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Bluefield
JOHN DOE, an infant, by and through his next friend M. DOE, Plaintiff,
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE COUNTY OF MERCER, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. Faber Senior United States District Judge.
before the court is the Board of Education of the County of
Mercer's renewed motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 42). For
reasons appearing to the court, that motion is
to the complaint, the allegations of which are taken as true
for purposes of this motion, during the 2014-2015 school
year, John Doe was a student at Pikeview Middle School in
Mercer County, West Virginia. See Complaint ¶
9. John Doe has been diagnosed as suffering from Attention
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Mild Mental
Retardation. See id. at ¶ 10. Because of his
“developmental delays” John Doe received special
education services while attending public schools and has an
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that “places him in
the Moderately Mentally Impaired Program.” Id.
at ¶ 8. Significantly, for purposes of this motion, the
complaint alleges that “Mercer County Board of
Education acting through its employees and/or agents knew or
should have known that the Plaintiff had a history of
touching others as noted in his IEP.”
Id. at ¶ 13 (emphasis added).
Smith was a fellow student of John Doe's “who also
has developmental and mental impairments.” Id.
at ¶ 14. The complaint alleges that John Doe and John
Smith “were directed to collect attendance reports from
various classrooms and take them to the school office.”
Id. at ¶ 12. On or about May 4, 2015, John Doe
and John Smith were caught in a bathroom stall
“performing sex acts.” Id. at ¶ 14.
is the mother of John Doe. See id. at ¶ 6. On
August 29, 2016, John Doe, by and through M. Doe, filed the
instant lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against The
Board of Education of the County of Mercer
(“BOE”). According to the Complaint, in directing
John Doe to collect the attendance sheets while unsupervised,
the BOE created the danger which led to plaintiff's
injury. Therefore, plaintiff argues the BOE is liable under
§ 1983. See Complaint generally.
has moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In so doing, the BOE
argues that the alleged injury suffered by John Doe
“was not a foreseeable risk of any danger alleged by
Plaintiff.” ECF No. 42 at ¶ 7.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief
should not be granted unless it appears to a certainty that
the plaintiff would be entitled to no relief under any state
of facts which could be proved in support of his claim."
Rogers v. Jefferson-Pilot Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d
324, 325 (4th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted) (quoting
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 48 (1957), and
Johnson v. Mueller, 415 F.2d 354, 355 (4th Cir.
1969)). "In considering a motion to dismiss, the court
should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should
view the complaint in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff." Mylan Laboratories, Inc. v.
Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also
Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 474, 474 (4th Cir.
evaluating the sufficiency of a pleading, the cases of
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), provide
guidance. When reviewing a motion to dismiss, under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, a court must
determine whether the factual allegations contained in the
complaint “give the defendant fair notice of what the .
. . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, ”
and, when accepted as true, “raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
47 (1957); 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216 (3d ed.
2004)). “[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it
may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with
the allegations in the complaint.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 563. As the Fourth Circuit has explained,
“to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Painter's Mill
Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
to Iqbal and the interpretation given it by our
[L]egal conclusions, elements of a cause of action, and bare
assertions devoid of further factual enhancement fail to
constitute well-pled facts for Rule 12(b)(6) purposes.
See Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. We also decline to
consider “unwarranted inferences, unreasonable
conclusions, or arguments.” Wahi v. Charleston Area
Med. Ctr., Inc., 562 F.3d 599, 615 n. 26 (4th Cir.
2009); see also Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1951-52.
Ultimately, a complaint must contain “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Facial plausibility is established once
the factual content of a complaint “allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. In other
words, the complaint's factual allegations must produce
an inference of liability strong enough to nudge the
plaintiff's claims “‘across the line from
conceivable to plausible.'” Id. at 1952
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955).
Satisfying this “context-specific” test does not
require “detailed factual allegations.”
Id. at 1949-50 (quotations omitted). The complaint
must, however, plead sufficient facts to allow a court,
drawing on “judicial experience and common sense,
” to infer “more than the mere possibility of
misconduct.” Id. at 1950. Without such
“heft, ” id. at 1947, the
plaintiff's claims cannot establish a valid entitlement
to relief, as facts that are “merely consistent with a
defendant's liability, ” id. at 1949, fail
to nudge claims “across the line from conceivable to
plausible.” Id. at 1951.
Nemet Chevrolet, LTD v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc.,
591 F.3d 250, 255-56 (4th Cir. 2009). When considering a
12(b)(6) motion, a court must accept all of the
complaint's factual allegations as true and draw all
reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the plaintiff.
See Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't, Inc. v.
Montgomery Cnty., Md., 684 F.3d 462, 467 (4th Cir.
Section 1983 imposes liability on state actors who cause the
“deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution.” Under established
precedent, these constitutional rights include a Fourteenth
Amendment substantive due process right against state actor
conduct that deprives an individual of bodily integrity.
See, e.g., Hall v. Tawney, 621 F.2d 607,
612-13 (4th Cir. 1980)). Accordingly, state actions that
result in sexual abuse of children can be actionable under
§ 1983. See Doe v. Taylor Indep. Sch. Dist., 15
F.3d 443, 454 (5th Cir. 1994) (addressing a
“student's constitutional right to bodily integrity
in physical sexual abuse cases”); Stoneking v.
Bradford Area Sch. Dist., 882 F.2d 720, 724-25 (3rd Cir.
1989) (recognizing § 1983 liability for ...