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Thorpe v. Breathitt County Bd. of Educ.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

March 22, 2013

CYNTHIA THORPE, as Next of Friend And On behalf of D.T., a minor child, Thorpe
v.
BREATHITT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants

Page 800

For Cynthia Thorpe, Next Friend D.T., a minor child, Plaintiff: Burley J. Foley, Jr., Croley, Foley & Smith, London, KY; Paul K. Croley, II, Croley & Associates, London, KY; William V. Meader, Hyden, KY.

For Breathitt County Board of Education, Arch Turner, Individually, Reggie Hamilton, Individually, Defendants: Jonathan C. Shaw, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael J. Schmitt, Porter, Schmitt, Banks & Baldwin, Paintsville, KY.

For Charles Andrew Mitchell, Individually, Defendant: Neal Smith, Smith, Thompson & Carter, PLLC, Pikeville, KY.

For Charles Andrew Mitchell, In His Official Capacity at Sebastian Middle School and Former Employee of Breathitt County Board Of Education, Arch Turner, In His Official Capacity As The Breathitt County Schools Superintendent And Employee of Breathitt County Board Of Education, Reggie Hamilton, In His Official Capacity As Sebastian Middle School Principal and Employee Of Breathitt County Board Of Education, Official Defendants: Jonathan C. Shaw, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael J. Schmitt, Porter, Schmitt, Banks & Baldwin, Paintsville, KY.

Page 801

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Karen K. Caldwell, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Breathitt County Board of Education, Charles Mitchell, Arch Turner, and Reggie Hamilton. (DE 27). This action stems from Plaintiff's allegations of sexual harassment and abuse at Sebastian Middle School, which is within the Breathitt County Kentucky School System. Defendants assert that all claims against them in their official capacity, as well as the state law claims against the Breathitt County Board of Education, should be dismissed. While discovery is not complete, Plaintiff cannot succeed on these claims as a matter of law. The Court therefore will grant the motion and award summary judgment on these claims to Defendants.

I. Background

In 2010 and 2011, D.T., a minor, was a student at Sebastian Middle School in Breathitt County, Kentucky. (Complaint, DE 1 at 7). There, D.T. was a student of Defendant Charles Mitchell. ( Id. ). Plaintiff alleges that beginning in 2010 and continuing into 2011, Mitchell made sexual advances toward D.T. " including but not limited to grossly inappropriate touchings, flirtations, email transmittal of pornographic material depicting his genital and constant text messaging inducing her to engage in sexual intercourse." (DE 1 at 7). Plaintiff alleges that " many of these advances" occurred at the school building and classroom during school hours or at school functions outside the school building. ( Id. ). According to Plaintiff, there were prior complaints about Mitchell from students, teachers, and parents, yet Mitchell was only warned about his conduct. ( Id. ). Plaintiff alleges that no further action was taken by the superintendent of the Breathitt County School System, Arch Turner, or by the principal of Sebastian Middle School, Reggie Hamilton, and so the advances against D.T. continued. ( Id. ).

Plaintiff has sued Charles Mitchell, Arch Turner, Reggie Hamilton, and John and Jane Doe employees of the Breathitt County Board of Education, all in their individual and official capacities. The Complaint also names the Breathitt County Board of Education as a defendant, and alleges five counts: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for violations of rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment; Title IX claim (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. ) for quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile education environment; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and violations of the Kentucky Constitution and unnamed Kentucky Revised Statutes " through the series of misdeeds stated herein." (DE 1). The Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all claims against Mitchell, Turner, and Hamilton in their official capacities and all state claims against the Board of Education.

II. Analysis

" Summary judgment is proper if the evidence, taken in the light ...


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