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

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

September 18, 2019

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph M. Hood, Judge

         Defendant, Board of Education of Woodford County, Kentucky, (“the Board”) moves this Court, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a), for an Order for Plaintiff, K.G., and, Defendant, J.C.S., to cease appearing anonymously. [DE 32]. On September 4, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed their response in opposition to the Board’s motion. [DE 36]. The Board has replied in support of its motion. [DE 38]. J.C.S. did not respond to the Motion. 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 32], is, and hereby shall be, DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART.

         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]. K.G. and M.G. were minor children at the time the events underlying this action took place and at the time this action was filed. [Id. at 2, PageID #2, ¶ 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 allegedly 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, they brought 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 Plaintiffs 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”) now moves this Court for K.G. and J.C.S. to cease appearing anonymously in this action. [DE 32]. The Plaintiffs, K.G. and M.G. responded in opposition to the Board’s motion. [DE 36]. The Board replied in support of its motion. [DE 38]. The Defendant J.C.S. has not responded to the Board’s motion.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Board’s Motion for K.G. to Cease Appearing Anonymously is Denied.

         The Board requests this Court remove the curtain of anonymity from K.G. in this action. [Id. at 1-2, PageID #191-92]. K.G. argues that proceeding anonymously will protect her privacy interests as well as her minor sister’s identity. We agree with K.G. and deny the Board’s motion for K.G. to cease appearing anonymously in this action.

         This Court has held “[g]enerally, a complaint must state the names of all parties.” Doe v. Harlan Cnty. Indep. Sch. Dist., 96 F.Supp.2d 667, 671 (E.D. Ky. 2000)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a)); see also, Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a)(1). However, the Court may exempt a party from identifying herself in certain circumstances where the individual’s “privacy interests substantially outweigh the presumption of open judicial proceedings.” ...


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