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Lewis v. Scott County Public Schools Board of Education

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division

April 21, 2016

HUNTER L. LEWIS, B/N/F HOBERT L. LEWIS, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
SCOTT COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION, ET AL., Defendants.

K. Jeffrey Luethke, Kingsport, Tennessee, for Plaintiffs; Jim H. Guynn, Jr. and Jennifer D. Royer, Guynn & Wadell, P.C., Salem, Virginia, for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

James P. Jones United States District Judge

In this disability discrimination case, the defendants, a local Virginia school board and its individual members, the division superintendent of schools, and an assistant principal, have moved for the case to be dismissed. The plaintiffs, a disabled student and his parents, [1] oppose dismissal. For the reasons explained below, I will grant the Motion to Dismiss, but I will grant the plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint.

I.

The following facts are taken from the plaintiff’s pleadings originally filed in Virginia state court, which I am bound at this point to accept as true.[2]

Hunter Lewis is a 20-year-old who suffers from neurological conditions that have delayed his cognitive development. On October 31, 2013, he was a student at Gate City High School. At the end of his lunch period that day, he accidentally spilled his lunch tray. Two teachers and one teacher’s aide were present for this incident and forced Hunter to clean up the accident by yelling at him and physically directing his movements.

Defendant assistant principal Brent Roberts subsequently entered the cafeteria. The plaintiffs allege that Roberts yelled at Hunter, grabbed him around his neck, pulled him to the floor, and then forced him into a chair. The plaintiffs allege that Hunter was restrained in the chair. Roberts then forced Hunter to his hands and knees to continue the cleanup.

Jason Cox, a school resource officer, then took Hunter to the main office. However, upon arriving at the office door, Hunter did not enter the office, but instead continued down a hallway toward the classrooms. Cox proceeded to physically “take down” Hunter because he did not walk into the office. Roberts then picked Hunter up from the floor, pulled his hands above his head, and returned him to the office.

The plaintiffs allege that this treatment caused both physical and mental injury to Hunter.

In their suit, the plaintiffs assert that the defendants violated the provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400. (Mot. J. § X, ECF No. 1-2.) In addition, they assert state causes of action for “common law” negligence. (Id. § XI.) The plaintiffs do not allege claims for assault, battery, or other intentional tort against any of the defendants. Instead, they claim that the defendants were negligent in resolving Hunter’s behavioral problems.

II.

In their motion, the defendants seek dismissal pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) & (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[3] “The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). Rule 12(b)(6) does “not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “[I]t does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). In ruling, the court must regard as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), and must view those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 406 (2002).

III.

A. IDEA ...


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