United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
TAMMY SMITH, individually and on behalf of a minor, S.S., Plaintiff,
MID-VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT and SALISBURY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, INC., d/b/a NEW STORY THROOP, Defendants.
Richard Caputo United States District Judge.
before me is a Motion to Dismiss (Smith v. Mid-Valley
Sch. Dist., 3:19-cv-00064 (“Smith
II”), ECF No. 6) filed by Defendant Mid-Valley
School District (“Defendant” or “the
District”). For the reasons that follow,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be granted in part and
denied in part.
facts as alleged in the Complaint (Smith II, ECF No.
1) are as follows: Plaintiff Tammy Smith
(“Plaintiff” or “Smith”) is the
mother of S.S., a minor. (Id. ¶ 2). S.S. is a
non-verbal autistic student who was enrolled in the
District's Special Education Program with an
Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) for
behavioral support. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 7-9). The
District referred S.S. to the New Story Throop program for
attempted IEP support classes. (Id. ¶¶ 6,
February 16, 2016, the Throop Police Department received a
report of “suspected child endangerment and
neglect” at New Story Throop. (Id. ¶ 11).
Three days later, after interviewing staff members, the
police officer assigned to the matter determined this report
involved S.S.'s placement in a “quiet room”
for behavioral problems on February 9, 2016. (Id.
¶¶ 12, 13). According to New Story Throop employees
who observed the incident, S.S. took off all his clothes,
urinated on the floor, “stoop[ed] to the ground on his
hands and knees[, ]” and “drank his own urine
from the ground.” (Id. ¶¶ 14, 15).
These employees witnessed but did not attempt to stop
S.S.'s behavior. (Id. ¶ 15). The Throop
Police Department also found that a similar incident occurred
on February 8, 2016, in which New Story Throop employees
watched as S.S. took off his clothes, played in, and drank
his own urine. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 17).
the District's Special Education Director was informed
about both incidents each day they occurred, Smith was not
informed of these incidents “until some significant
time after [they] occurred.” (Id. ¶¶
18, 19). Smith immediately requested IEP meetings upon
learning of these incidents and S.S. was subsequently removed
from New Story Throop at Smith's direction. (Id.
¶ 21). Following these events, S.S. “regressed in
his mental progression and development” and was placed
in a full-time institution that provides him with educational
and living support. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 26).
filed a complaint in February of 2018 against the District
and New Story Throop in connection with these events, which
was removed to this Court on February 27, 2018. (Smith v.
Mid-Valley Sch. Dist. et al., No. 3:18-cv-00478
(“Smith I”), ECF No. 1)). On March 23,
2018, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. (Id.,
ECF. No. 10). Both defendants submitted motions to dismiss
the amended complaint. (Id., ECF Nos. 11; 12). I
granted the District's motion to dismiss as to Counts I,
III, V, and VIII on June 22, 2018. (Id., ECF Nos.
January 10, 2019, while New Story Throop's motion to
dismiss was still pending, Plaintiff filed the instant
Complaint (Smith II, ECF No. 1) against the District
alleging the following: (1) a violation of Title IX of the
Education Amendments of 1972; (2) violations of the
Fourteenth Amendment equal protection and due process
clauses; (3) a violation of the Individuals with Disabilities
Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et
seq.; and (4) a violation of Section 504 of the Federal
Rehabilitation Act. (See generally id.). The
District filed the instant Motion to Dismiss the Smith
II Complaint on March 4, 2019 and then filed a Motion to
Consolidate both cases on March 18, 2019. (Smith II,
ECF Nos. 6, 11). I granted the Motion to Consolidate on April
2, 2019. (Smith I, ECF No. 25). I also granted New
Story Throop's Smith I Motion to Dismiss as to
Counts IV and VI of the Amended Complaint on the same day.
(Smith I, ECF No. 26). The District's Motion to
Dismiss the instant complaint (Smith II, ECF No. 1
(“Doc. 1”)) has been fully briefed and is ripe
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “Under the ‘notice
pleading' standard embodied in Rule 8 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must come forward with
‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Thompson
v. Real Estate Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 147 (3d
Cir. 2014) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a court must
consider no more than whether the complaint establishes
‘enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements'
of the cause of action.” Trzaska v. L'Oreal
USA, Inc., 865 F.3d 155, 162 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting
Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 789
(3d Cir. 2016)). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint,
a court must take three steps: (1) identify the elements of
the claim; (2) identify conclusions that are not entitled to
the assumption of truth; and (3) assume the veracity of the
well-pleaded factual allegations and determine whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. See
Connelly, 809 F.3d at 787 (citations omitted). “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.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937
(2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)).
argues Plaintiff's claims under Title IX, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act should
be dismissed for failure to state claims on which relief may
be granted. Defendant, however, has not specifically argued
Plaintiff's IDEA claim in Count III should be dismissed.
Instead, Defendant argues, and Plaintiff agrees, that
Plaintiff is not entitled to compensatory and punitive
damages under the IDEA. As such, Count III of the Complaint
may proceed. I will address Defendant's arguments in
favor of dismissing the remaining claims below.