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Ball v. St. Mary's Residential Training School

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

May 28, 2015

AMANDA BALL, individually and on behalf of her minor children
v.
ST. MARY'S RESIDENTIAL TRAINING SCHOOL, RAPIDES PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, KAREN COOR, LESLIE DRAPER, ANITA MOORE, HEATHER NIDA, STEPHANIE WARDEN, SOMONA ALLEN, CHRISTI GUILLIOT, MAVIS CHAMPAGNE and TONY VETS

MEMORANDUM RULING

JAMES T. TRIMBLE, Jr., District Judge.

Before the court is a motion to dismiss filed by St. Mary's Residential Training Academy ("St. Mary's"), Karen Coor, Leslie Draper, Anita Moore, Heather Nida, Stephanie Warden, Somona Allen, Christi Guilliot, Mavis Champagne and Tony Vets (collectively hereinafter "Defendants").[1] For the reasons expressed below, the court finds that Defendants' motion should be GRANTED in full, resulting in partial dismissal of the claims against them by Plaintiff in the above-captioned suit.

I. BACKGROUND

Relevant Facts

Plaintiff, Amanda Ball, is the natural mother of three minor children on behalf of whom she brings the instant suit.[2] Plaintiff asserts that she enrolled her minor son, K.G., who she describes as being disabled "within the meaning of state and federal laws" in St. Mary's in June of 2013.[3] Plaintiff alleges that she arrived for a scheduled visit with K.G. at St. Mary's on October 3, 2013 and "discovered that K.G. had been physically, psychologically, and emotionally abused while he was in the care, custody, and control of [D]efendants."[4] Plaintiff asserts that she found K.G. with "several cuts, bruises and wounds" and judged him to be "significantly underweight" and "pale."[5]

Plaintiff filed the instant suit in this court on or about October 2, 2014, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 ("IDEA")(20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq.); Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 504") (29 U.S.C. § 794) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("Title II") (42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.). Plaintiff's suit also asserts state law claims under the Louisiana Constitution, Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315, and for "breach of warranty and/or contract, misrepresentation [and] fraud."[6]

Defendants filed the instant motion seeking dismissal of a portion of the claims asserted in this suit under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) under theories explored below. The court received and has thoroughly reviewed briefs on this matter and finds the issues proper for decision at this time.

II. ANALYSIS

Plaintiff's IDEA Claims

Defendants' motion asserts that Plaintiff's claims under IDEA fail as a matter of law and must be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) because this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over them due to Plaintiff's failure to exhaust available administrative remedies prior to filing her claim in this court.

"IDEA imposes an affirmative obligation on states to assure disabled children a free appropriate public education..."[7] IDEA provides parents the right to access records regarding the "identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child, to receive prior written notice of administrative actions, and to present complaints."[8] Upon the presentation of any such complaint, parents are entitled to an impartial due process hearing to be conducted by the local education agency.[9] Parents may appeal any decision reached by the local agency to the state agency.[10] Finally, if the parents remain unsatisfied with the decision of the state agency on appeal, they may file a civil suit in state or federal district court.[11]

Defendants point out several issues pertaining to Plaintiff's claims under IDEA: (1) St. Mary's is not a public educational institution, but is, instead, private and, therefore, not subject to this provision; (2) Plaintiff did not exhaust any available administrative remedies prior to bringing this suit, rendering this court without subject matter jurisdiction to hear this claim; (3) Plaintiff's claims are for abuse and neglect and not for any issue relating to the "identification, evaluation, and educational placement" of her son, bringing them outside the ambit of IDEA; (4) Plaintiff may not seek general damages under IDEA, which only provides for prospective educational relief.

This court's first concern is, of course, with our jurisdiction to hear any claim presented.[12] Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only that which is conferred by the Constitution or statute.[13] The burden of proving jurisdiction rests with the party asserting its existence.[14] A party may challenge the court's jurisdiction to hear any claim or suit under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and, if the non-moving party fails to demonstrate the existence of jurisdiction in the matter, the court may not proceed and must ordinarily dismiss the suit without prejudice.[15] Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be found in any of these instances: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts or evidence in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.[16]

Plaintiff's response essentially admits that her claims do not fall within the purview of IDEA and effectively abandons such claims against movants. Having presented no evidence of the prior exhaustion of administrative remedies in response to the motion before us, we find that Defendants' motion should be granted and, accordingly, any purported claims by Plaintiff under IDEA shall be dismissed without prejudice.[17] We note that Defendants' ...


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