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Ap v. Johnson

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

March 23, 2015

A.P. as parent and natural guardian of L.H., a minor, Plaintiffs,


DONALD E. O'BRIEN, Senior District Judge.


The above captioned case concerns a lawsuit brought by the Plaintiff, a parent, against a school, on behalf of a minor child. In the Complaint, Docket No. 1, the Plaintiff alleges a variety of causes of action against the Defendants related to alleged abuse suffered by L.H. For clarity's sake, the Court will refer to A.P. and L.H. jointly as the Plaintiff and will refer to each individually by their initials when necessary.

Currently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss, Docket No. 8, filed by the Defendants. The parties appeared for a hearing on October 23, 2014. After listening to the parties' arguments, the Court took the matter under consideration and now enters the following.


Because the present motion is a pre-answer Motion to Dismiss, few facts are before the Court. However, a short overview of the allegations is necessary for context.

During the 2012-2013 school year, L.H. was a seventh grade student at the Sioux Rapids Community School. L.H. suffers from autism as well as other mental/emotional disorders, and can act out angrily, or even violently at times. To facilitate L.H.'s unique educational needs, the parties developed an Individualized Education Program [hereinafter IEP].[1] As part of the IEP, L.H. was assigned an aide who was with L.H. throughout the school day. The IEP also provided that there should be a quiet place L.H. could go if he became overstimulated. Finally, the IEP included a Behavior Intervention Plan [hereinafter BIP], which set out how faculty should intervene if L.H. began to act out. The BIP included the clause, "if [L.H.] is unable to be escorted safely, faculty trained in appropriate restraint techniques may be contacted for assistance."

An incident occurred on April 5, 2013. L.H. was having problems and attempted to go his quiet room. On the way, he pushed another student. While in the quiet room, he was approached by Defendant (teacher) Brian Johnson and Principal Jeff Scharn. The situation deteriorated, L.H. attempted to run away, and in that attempt pushed another student. At that point, Defendant Johnson physically restrained L.H. and allegedly caused L.H. injury.

Another incident occurred the following school year on October 10, 2013. L.H. was in a class taught by Defendant Johnson. L.H. became upset and threw a chair. Defendant Johnson again tackled L.H.

Plaintiff contends that Defendant Johnson failed to follow the IEP and BIP both times he physically intervened with L.H. Plaintiff alleges that in both situations, L.H. was acting out as a result of his disability and the Defendants' response to L.H.- physically restraining him- was abusive.


The notice pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a plaintiff to give "a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." In order for the Court to dismiss a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the opposing party must successfully challenge the claim "on its face or the factual truthfulness of its averments." Titus v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 590, 593 (8th Cir. 1993). Facial challenges are limited to analyzing the face of the complaint. Biscanin v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 407 F.3d 905, 907 (8th Cir. 2005).

In order to meet that standard and 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, 663 (2009) (internal quotations and citation omitted). This requirement of facial plausibility means that the factual content of the plaintiff's allegations must "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Cole v. Homier Distrib. Co., Inc., 599 F.3d 856, 861 (8th Cir. 2010). Furthermore, courts must assess the plausibility of a given claim with reference to the plaintiff's allegations as a whole, not in terms of the plausibility of each individual allegation. Zoltek Corp. v. Structural Polymer Group, 592 F.3d 893, 896 n. 4 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). This inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664.

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal alterations and citations omitted). Nevertheless, although the "plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to show at the pleading stage that success on the merits is more than a sheer possibility, " it is not a "probability requirement." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). As such, "a ...

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