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K.G. v. Board of Education of Woodford County

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

September 3, 2019

K.G., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF WOODFORD COUNTY, KENTUCKTY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph M. Hood, Senior U.S. District Judge.

         Defendant, Board of Education of Woodford County, Kentucky, (“the Board”) moves this Court for judgment on the pleadings as to the plaintiffs, K.G. and M.G. (“the Plaintiffs”), claims against Defendant J.C.S. in his official capacity. [DE 29]. On August 16, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed their response in opposition to the Board's motion. [DE 33]. The Board has replied in support of its motion. [DE 34]. As a result, this matter is now ripe for review. The Court having considered the motion, and being otherwise sufficiently advised, IT IS ORDERED that the Board's motion, [DE 29], is, and hereby shall be, GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On October 2, 2018, John and Jane Doe, on behalf of K.G. and M.G., filed this action against the Board of Education of Woodford County, Kentucky and J.C.S., individually and in his official capacity. [DE 1]. The Plaintiffs claim J.C.S., a thirty (30) year old, then-choir teacher at Woodford County High School engaged in prurient and unlawful contact with K.G. and M.G. both on and off the campus of Woodford County High School. [DE 1 at 2, PageID #2, ¶¶ 1-2]. Plaintiffs allege this activity included unlawful sexual touching and written, verbal, and electronic communications of a sexual and abusive nature. [Id. at ¶ 1]. The Plaintiffs further claim that the Board of Education had actual or constructive knowledge of this conduct as early as March 2018, but failed to act in a manner that guaranteed the safety and security of K.G. and M.G. [Id. at ¶ 3].

         In August 2018, the Plaintiffs allege that K.G. was assigned as a “teacher's aid” during J.C.S.'s planning period, despite the Board having received a formal complaint about J.C.S.'s behavior. [DE 1 at 2-3, PageID #2-3, ¶ 4]. On August 10, 2018, K.G. allegedly reported to J.C.S's office, where J.C.S. proceeded to lock his door and made a lewd and inappropriate comment of a sexual nature to K.G. [Id. at 3, PageID #3, ¶ 5]. Plaintiffs allege that four (4) days later, K.G. returned to the office for her scheduled planning period block with her cellular device and recorded conversations, which include J.C.S.'s insistence that K.G. reveal her private parts to J.C.S. [Id.].

         Upon learning of the recording, the Board allegedly seized K.G.'s personal cellular device and detained K.G., stating that she was not permitted to leave until after she had provided a written statement about J.C.S's conduct. [DE 1 at 3, PageID #3, ¶ 6]. On August 20, 2018, J.C.S. resigned. [Id. at ¶ 7].

         Plaintiffs claim they have suffered irreparable and lasting injuries as a result of both the Board's and J.C.S.'s conduct. [Id. at ¶ 8]. As a result, Plaintiffs make seven (7) claims as to the Board and to J.C.S. in both his individual and official capacity. [DE 1]. In particular, Plaintiffs brings claims for (1) sexual harassment in violation Title IX, [id. at 26-28, PageID #26-28, ¶¶ 158-174]; (2) retaliation in violation of Title IX, [id. at 28-30, PageID# 28-30, ¶¶ 175-191]; (3) a deprivation of rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [id. at 30-31, PageID #30-31, ¶¶ 192-200]; (4) violation of KRS 446.070, [id. at 32, PageID #32, ¶¶ 201-208]; (5) intentional infliction of emotion distress, [id. at 33, PageID #33, ¶¶ 184-191]; (6) civil battery, [id. at 33-34, PageID #33-34, ¶¶ 192-196]; and (7) false imprisonment. [Id. at 34-35, PageID #34-35, ¶¶ 197-200].

         The Plaintiffs seek judgment on all claims as well as actual, compensatory losses. [DE 1]. In addition to actual, compensatory loses, the Plaintiff also seek punitive damages on their § 1983 claim, [id. at 31, PageID #31], and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs on its claim under KRS 446.070. [Id. at 32, PageID #32].

         Defendant, Board of Education of Woodford County, Kentucky, (“the Board”) moves this Court for judgment on the pleadings as to the plaintiffs, K.G. and M.G. (“the Plaintiffs”), claims against Defendant J.C.S. in his official capacity. [DE 29]. On August 16, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed their response in opposition to the Board's motion. [DE 33]. The Board has replied in support of its motion. [DE 34].

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) is reviewed under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6). Coley v. Lucas Cnty., 799 F.3d 530, 536- 37 (6th Cir. 2015); see also Florida Power Corp. v. FirstEnergy Corp., 810 F.3d 996, 999 (6th Cir. 2015). A complaint in federal court must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         A motion to dismiss under either Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or (c) tests the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. The Court views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations contained within it. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiffs. See Coley v. Lucas Cnty., 799 F.3d 530, 537 (6th Cir. 2015). Although a court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, they need not accept legal conclusions as true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955.

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that a defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955. Where a complaint does not state facts sufficient to state a claim, the claims must be dismissed. Twombly, 555 U.S. at 570, 129 S.Ct. 1187.

         III. ...


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