United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MATTIE BRIGHT, as Guardian and next of kin for her daughter, Jane Doe PLAINTIFF
TUNICA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al. DEFENDANTS
M. Brown, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
civil rights action is before the Court on the motions to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for judgment on the pleadings
filed by Bernard Stephen Chandler and Tunica County School
District. Doc. #43; Doc. #45; Doc. #47.
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.
and the District filed answers to the state court 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 to dismiss 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.
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.
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.
and the District have moved to dismiss “all claims in
this matter alleged as arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and/or Rule 12(c) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure.” Doc. #46; Doc. 48.
general matter, 12(b)(6) relief is unavailable where a moving
party has filed a responsive pleading. Young v. City of
Houston, 599 F. App'x 553, 554 (5th Cir. 2015).
Accordingly, when, as here, a moving party files a
post-answer motion under both Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c),
the proper course is to treat the motion as made under Rule
12(c). See Dorward v. Ramirez, No. 3:09-cv-18, 2009
WL 2777880, at *3 n.4 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 28, 2009)
(“Although Waste Management states that it moves to
dismiss under both Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c), the court
will construe the motion as made under Rule 12(c) because it
was filed after Waste Management filed an answer.”).
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is
subject to the same standard as a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6).” Doe v. MySpace, Inc., 528 F.3d
413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008). “The pleading standards for a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss are derived from Rule 8 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides, in
relevant part, that a pleading stating a claim for relief
must contain ‘a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” In
re McCoy, 666 F.3d 924, 926 (5th Cir. 2012). Under Rule
12(b)(6), “[t]he central issue is whether, in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint states a valid
claim for relief.” Great Plains Trust Co. v. Morgan
Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 312 (5th
Cir. 2002). Under this standard, a court must “accept
all well-pleaded facts as true.” New Orleans City
v. Ambac Assurance Corp., 815 F.3d 196, 199-200 (5th
Cir. 2016) (internal quotation mark omitted). However,
“a plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do so.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather,
[t]o 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.” A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a
“probability requirement, ” but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are
“merely consistent with” a defendant's
liability, it “stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544) (internal citations
the 2014-2015 school year, Doe, who was then fifteen years
old, was enrolled as a freshman at Rosa Fort High School in
the Tunica County ...