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Bright v. Tunica County School District

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

September 11, 2017

MATTIE BRIGHT, as Guardian and next of kin for her daughter, Jane Doe PLAINTIFF
v.
TUNICA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Debra M. Brown, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This civil rights action is before the Court on: (1) the “Motion of Defendant Stanley Ellis for Qualified Immunity, to Dismiss, and for Summary Judgment, ” Doc. #28; (2) the “Motion of Defendant Milton Hardrict for Qualified Immunity, to Dismiss, and for Summary Judgment, ” Doc. #32; and (3) the “Motion of Defendant Bernard Stephen Chandler for Qualified Immunity, ” Doc. #57.

         I

         Procedural History

         On August 24, 2016, Mattie Bright filed an amended complaint on behalf of her daughter, Jane Doe, in the Circuit Court of Tunica County, Mississippi. Doc. #2. The amended complaint, which asserts claims under Title IX and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, names as defendants (1) Tunica County School District; (2) Bernard Stephen Chandler, the Superintendent of the District, in his official and individual capacities; (3) Milton Hardrict, the principal at Coahoma Agricultural High School, in his official and individual capacities; (4) Stanley Ellis, the Assistant Superintendent of the District and the District's Title IX Coordinator, in his official and individual capacities; and (5) Brittany Brown, a teacher in the District, in her official and individual capacities. The amended complaint alleges that the various defendants are liable for a sexual assault and harassment Jane Doe suffered while a student in the District.

         Bright's amended complaint asserts four counts: (1) “Violation of Title IX as to Defendant Tunica County School District, ” subtitled “The School's Deliberate Indifference to Alleged Sexual Harassment” (Count I); (2) “Violation of Title IX as to Defendant Tunica County School District, ” subtitled “Retaliation by Withholding Protections Otherwise Conferred by Title IX” (Count II); (3) “1983 Violation as to Defendants Tunica County School District, Chandler, Hardrict, Ellis and Brown” (Count III); and (4) “Monell Liability for Failure to Train and Supervise as to Response to Sexual Assault as to Defendant Tunica County School District (42 U.S.C. § 1983)” (Count IV). Hardrict and Ellis seek dismissal of Count III. Doc. #28; Doc. #32.

         Ellis and the District filed answers to the state court amended complaint on September 12, 2016. Doc. #5; Doc. #6. Hardrict filed his answer on October 20, 2016, and Chandler filed his on December 26, 2016. Doc. #16; Doc. #26. Both Hardrict and the District subsequently amended their answers on January 12, 2017, and January 15, 2017, respectively. Doc. #27; Doc. #31.

         On January 12, 2017, Ellis filed a “Motion of Defendant Stanley Ellis for Qualified Immunity, to Dismiss, and for Summary Judgment.” Doc. #28. Three days later, on January 15, 2017, Hardrict filed a motion seeking identical relief. Doc. #32.

         On January 26, 2017, Bright docketed a response to Ellis' motion for summary judgment, which was in substance and by title a motion for Rule 56(d) relief, along with a memorandum supporting her Rule 56(d) request. Doc. #34; Doc. #35. Following a notice of correction from the Clerk of the Court, Bright re-docketed her response as a motion for extension but did not file a supporting memorandum. Doc. #36. After receiving a second notice of correction, Bright filed a third motion for Rule 56(d) relief, again with no supporting memorandum. Doc. #38.

         On February 9, 2017, Ellis and Hardrict filed a “Combined Response” to Bright's three motions. Doc. #39. The next day, Ellis and Hardrict filed a “corrected” response. Doc. #40. Bright replied to the combined response on February 21, 2017. Doc. #42.

         On February 22, 2017, Chandler and the District filed a combined motion to dismiss “and/or” for judgment on the pleadings. Doc. #43. The following day, Chandler and the District filed separate “amended” motions seeking the same relief. Doc. #45; Doc. #47. Bright filed a combined response to the amended motions on March 30, 2017. Doc. #51. On April 6, 2017, the District and Chandler filed motions to extend the deadlines to reply to Bright's response. Doc. #53; Doc. #54. Two days later, on April 8, 2017, before this Court could rule on the motions for extension, both Chandler and the District replied in support of their respective motions. Doc. #55; Doc. #56.

         On April 10, 2017, Chandler filed a motion for summary judgment. Doc. #57. About two weeks later, on April 25, 2016, this Court issued an order denying the motions for extension as moot. Doc. #59. Additionally, the order, which interpreted the first two Rule 56(d) motions as having been mooted by the third, denied the third motion for Rule 56(d) relief as improperly supported. Id. Bright filed a Rule 56(d) motion two days later seeking discovery to respond to Chandler's motion. Doc. # 63.

         On July 19, 2017, this Court denied the Rule 56(d) motion related to Chandler's motion for summary judgment. Doc. #68. Approximately two weeks later, on August 4, 2017, Bright responded in opposition to Chandler's motion for summary judgment. Doc. #71. Chandler replied in support of his motion on August 6, 2017. Doc. #73.

         On September 11, 2017, this Court granted Chandler's and the District's respective motions for judgment on the pleadings on the § 1983 claims asserted against Chandler in Count III and against the District in Count IV. Doc. #77. Specifically, the Court concluded that Count III and Count IV ...


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