United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J.G., a Minor, by and through her next friend, Nancy Gusman, Plaintiff,
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
W. Grimm United States District Judge
Memorandum Opinion addresses the Partial Motions to Dismiss
and Partial Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants
Prince George's County Board of Education (“the
Board') and Jacqueline Marshall-Hall. ECF Nos. 55 and 56.
The Motions are fully briefed, Board's Mem., ECF No.
55-1; Marshall-Hall's Mem., ECF No. 56-1; Pl.'s
Opp'n Board's Mot., ECF No. 57-1; Pl.'s Opp'n
Marshall-Hall's Mot., ECF No. 58-1; Defs.' Reply, ECF
No. 59, and no hearing is necessary, see Loc. R.
105.6 (D. Md.). Because the Board has sovereign immunity for
claims above $100, 000, I will dismiss the portion of
Plaintiff's state-tort claims that exceed that amount. I
will grant Defendants' motions to dismiss the 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claims against the Board and Marshall-Hall in her
official capacity, as they are not considered
‘persons' under the statute. Further, because
Plaintiff has failed to show deliberate indifference under 20
U.S.C. §§ 1681-88 (“Title IX”), I will
grant the Board's partial motion for summary judgment and
I will also enter summary judgment in Marshall-Hall's
favor on the Title IX claim against her in her official
capacity. I will dismiss Plaintiff's Title IX claim
against Marshall-Hall in her individual capacity, as a Title
IX claim may not be brought against her in this capacity.
Finally, the motion to dismiss Plaintiff's demand for
attorney's fees pursuant to her state law claims is
granted. Plaintiff's state-tort claims up to $100, 000,
and the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Marshall-Hall in
her individual capacity remain.
November 4, 2011, James Jamar Howard “was hired by
Prince George's County Public Schools
(“PGCPS”) as a substitute group activity
assistant for the 2011-2012 academic school year” at
Glenn Dale Elementary. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 27. In that
position, Howard was responsible for administering lessons to
Plaintiff's first grade class. Id. ¶ 28.
During the 2011- 12 school year, “Howard sexually
assaulted Plaintiff in the school library.”
Id. ¶ 29. This incident was never observed,
however, by any third party or reported to school officials.
Therefore, on August 13, 2012, PGCPS rehired Howard for the
2012-13 school year as a special education paraprofessional
for Plaintiff's second grade class.
April 17, 2013, during lunch in the school cafeteria, a
teacher observed Howard sexually assault Plaintiff. The
teacher immediately reported the incident to Jacqueline
Marshall-Hall, Glenn Dale Elementary's principal at that
time. Plaintiff alleges that Marshall-Hall “failed to
take immediate action to protect the minor child and did not
report the incident of sexual assault to Plaintiff's
parents.” Id. ¶ 35. Consequently,
Plaintiff returned to school the next day before the school
took any action towards Howard, see Id. ¶ 36,
but no further contact between Plaintiff and Howard is
an investigation, Howard admitted that he had “sexually
molested Plaintiff on ten to fifteen different occasions, all
of which occurred on school grounds, over the course of the
2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.” Id.
¶ 37. In addition, the investigation revealed that
“Howard was [formerly] charged with two counts of
second-degree assault and two counts of fourth degree sex
offense” in August 2002. Id. ¶ 38.
basis, Plaintiff brought this action against the Prince
George's County Board of Education and Marshall-Hall in
her official and unofficial capacities for negligent hiring
(Counts 1 and 4); negligent retention (Counts 2 and 5);
negligent supervision (Counts 3 and 6); a 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claim for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Count 7);
and violation of Title IX, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-88
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Motion to Dismiss
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for “the
dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Velencia v.
Drezhlo, No. RDB-12-237, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4 (D. Md.
Dec. 13, 2012). The rule's purpose “‘is to
test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve
contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.'” Id. (quoting
Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480,
483 (4th Cir. 2006)). To that end, the Court bears in mind
the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), when considering a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, a complaint
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and must state “a plausible claim
for relief, ” as “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice, ” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678-79. See Velencia, 2012 WL 6562764, at *4
(discussing standard from Iqbal and
Twombly). “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.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678.
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates,
through “particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . .,
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,
” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see
Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, No. 12-1722, 714 F.3d
828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary
judgment demonstrates that there is no evidence to support
the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a
genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 585-87 & n.10 (1986).
seek partial dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for
negligent hiring, negligent retention, and negligent
supervision to the extent that they seek damages exceeding