United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Jose Resendez, who played baseball for Purdue University
Northwest, alleges in this action that his coach made
racially derogatory comments and falsely accused him of
misconduct and a criminal offense, leading to his suspension
from the team. He sued the coach, asserting an equal
protection claim for racial discrimination under § 1983
and state claims for defamation and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. He also asserted a claim against the
university under Title VI, and claims against university
administrators under § 1983. The defendants moved to
dismiss the complaint in its entirety. They argue that the
complaint fails to state a claim for discrimination, and that
the claims are also barred by various immunities under
federal and state law, among other arguments. On a referral,
the magistrate judge recommended that the Court grant the
motion. Resendez has objected to that recommendation. For the
reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion in part and
denies it in part.
Jose Resendez was a student at Purdue University
North-Central, now known as Purdue University Northwest. He
was a member of the baseball team during the 2014-15 season.
Defendant Shane Prance was the head coach of the team, and
defendant Tom Albano was the athletic director.
alleges that he “is of Hispanic heritage, specifically
Mexican, and is brown-skinned and darker compl[exioned],
typical of his heritage.” [DE 17 ¶ 16]. In this
action, he alleges a series of incidents in which he believes
Prance mistreated him because of his race. He alleges that on
March 19, 2015, “Prance directed a racially derogatory
comment to Resendez, specifically, ‘I don't want to
deal with campus police saying a Mexican with a beard is
jumping the fence and causing trouble on the field,
[Resendez] that was directed to you.'” Id.
¶ 34. On March 30, 2015, Prance allegedly called
Resendez a “pussy” and “a lazy piece of
shit.” Id. ¶ 36. That prompted a verbal
altercation between the two, but Resendez alleges that no
physical contact occurred. Prance nonetheless stated during a
phone call with Resendez's father that Resendez had
attacked him and chest-bumped him 4-5 times. Prance also made
Resendez run for two hours straight during the practice the
the evening on April 14, 2015, Prance called the police to
report that a paintball gun was being fired at his house and
that he could hear the paintballs hitting the house. When
police arrived, he reported that he saw a vehicle outside his
house during the incident, and that he recognized it as
belonging to Resendez's girlfriend. He further stated
that, a couple minutes later, he saw the same vehicle in the
area, and he was able to identify Resendez as the driver.
Resendez alleges, however, that these allegations were false,
and that he and his girlfriend were not even in the same town
as Prance's home at the time of the incident. Resendez
alleges that these false accusations were racially motivated.
In response to the accusation, police contacted Resendez, who
offered to let them search for a paintball gun, but none was
thereafter, Resendez was summoned to a meeting with Albano,
the athletic director. Prance had reported to Albano that
Resendez physically assaulted him by charging and bumping
into him during the incident on March 30. Prance further
reported that Resendez had shot paintballs at his house.
Accordingly, Resendez was suspended from the team pending an
investigation into those incidents.
alleges that Albano investigated Prance's allegations
about the assault and found that they were false, but that
Resendez remained suspended and Prance was not disciplined.
Resendez also sought help from the chancellor, defendant
James Dworkin. Dworkin initially represented that he would
“take care of the situation, ” but he then
refused to meet with Resendez. Id. ¶ 73.
Resendez alleges on information and belief that Dworkin
“knew about the racial slurs, ” but that Prance
was not disciplined except for being told “not to use
the racial slurs again.” Id. ¶¶
further alleges that Prance's treatment of him was part
of a pattern of treating non-white players worse than their
white counterparts. He alleges that white players on the team
were not disciplined as severely for their misconduct and
that Prance did not file false police reports against any
white players. He also alleges that non-white players
received less playing time.
filed this action, asserting federal claims for racial
discrimination, and state claims for defamation and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. In response to
a motion to dismiss, Resendez filed an amended complaint. The
defendants then moved to dismiss the amended complaint as
well. The Court referred that motion to the magistrate judge
for preparation of a report and recommendation. In the report
and recommendation, the magistrate judge recommended that the
federal claims be dismissed for failure to state a claim, and
that the Court relinquish supplemental jurisdiction over the
state claims. Resendez timely objected to that report and
recommendation, after which he moved to supplement his
objection. The objections are now ripe for ruling.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court construes the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepts the factual
allegations as true, and draws all reasonable inferences in
the plaintiff's favor. Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar,
Inc., 623 F.3d 1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010). A complaint
must contain only a “short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That statement must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief
that is plausible on its face, Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), and raise a right to relief above
the speculative level. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). However, a plaintiff's claim
need only be plausible, not probable. Indep. Trust Corp.
v. Stewart Info. Servs. Corp., 665 F.3d 930,
935 (7th Cir. 2012). Evaluating whether a plaintiff's
claim is sufficiently plausible to survive a motion to
dismiss is “‘a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.'” McCauley v. City
of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
same standard of review applies to the Court's review of
the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. Under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3), the district court
must undertake a de novo review “of those
portions of the magistrate judge's disposition to which
specific written objection is made.” Johnson v.
Zema Sys. Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999);
Goffman v. Gross, 59 F.3d 668, 671 (7th Cir. 1995);
see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Here, Resendez
has objected to each of the magistrate judge's
recommendations, so the Court evaluates the sufficiency of
the complaint de novo.