United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
JESSICA H. EDGE, Plaintiff,
BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES OF THE SALEM COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, Defendant.
ENTRY DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court
matter is before the Court on Defendant Board of School
Trustees of the Salem Community School Corporation's (the
“Board”) Motion for Partial Judgment on the
Pleadings (Filing No. 16), filed pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Also before the Court is
Plaintiff Jessica H. Edge's (“Edge”) Motion
for Leave to File Surreply in Opposition to Defendant's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (Filing No.
26). On September 12, 2018, Edge filed a Complaint
(Filing No. 1), alleging employment termination in
violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, violation of
14th Amendment due process rights and a Petition for judicial
review of administrative action pursuant to state statute.
For the following reasons, the Court Edge's Motion for
Leave to file a Surreply and denies the
Board's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings.
required when reviewing a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, the Court accepts as true the factual allegations
in the complaint and draws all inferences in favor of Edge as
the non- moving party. See Emergency Servs. Billing Corp
v. Allstate Ins. Co., 668 F.3d 459, 464 (7th
a resident of Washington County in the State of Indiana
(Filing No. 1 at 2). The Board is located in Salem,
Washington County, Indiana. Id. Edge had been a
certified teacher at Salem Community Schools for sixteen (16)
years from 2002 until her teaching contract was cancelled in
August 2018. On December 4, 2017, Principal Brent Minton
(“Minton”) recommended the cancellation of
Edge's teaching contract. Id. at 3. The
Complaint does not state why Minton recommended the
cancellation of her contract; however, Edge denies all of the
allegations against her. On November 14, 2017, the Board
placed Edge on paid administrative leave. Id. at 3.
On January 12, 2018, the Board withdrew the cancellation
proceedings and directed Edge to return to work starting
January 16, 2018. Id. at 5. However, before Edge
could return to work, the Board required her to sign a
“Last Chance Agreement.” Id. Under the
terms of the “Last Chance Agreement” Edge was
required to (a) participate in sensitivity and bullying
training; (b) attend training to “learn the appropriate
and professional use of all forms of social media in the
school setting;” (c) “meet with the Salem Middle
School Principal on a bi-weekly basis…to review the
events of the past two weeks, discuss any concerns regarding
the Teacher's implementation of the expectations
established in this Agreement, and discuss and prepare goals
for effective, professional and respectful
communications…;” (d) meet with a mentor; (e)
refrain from speaking with Board Members; and (f) request
permission from her building principal to leave the building.
same day of the notification that she would have to sign the
“Last Chance Agreement, ” Edge informed the Board
that she would not be returning on January 16th
and would request FMLA leave to care for her sick daughter.
Id. Edge completed the FMLA forms, but the Board
asked her to provide additional information and resubmit the
FMLA forms on three (3) occasions. She provided the Board
with a third certification form on February 21, 2018.
Id. The third request from the Board, by letter
dated February 14, 2018, did not state whether Edge's
FMLA was approved or denied. The Board failed to provide a
Designation Notice to Edge stating when her FMLA leave began.
of 2018, the Board sent a letter to Edge stating that it
intended to initiate proceedings to cancel her contract. In
June of 2018, Edge was notified that the Board was moving to
cancel her contract. Following a conference with the Board,
it issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision
dated August 13, 2018, cancelling Edge's contract. On
September 12, 2018, Edge filed the instant Complaint alleging
the Board violated the Family and Medical Leave Act and 42
U.S.C. § 1983 when it cancelled her contract. She
alleges the decision to cancel her contract was arbitrary and
capricious; an abuse of discretion; contrary to
constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity; and
unsupported by substantial evidence.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits a party to move for a
judgment after the parties have filed a complaint and an
answer and the pleadings are closed. A motion for judgment
under Rule 12(c) is analyzed under the same standard as a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Pisciotta v. Old
Nat'l Bancorp., 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th
Cir. 2007). Therefore, the court must determine whether the
complaint states “a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To be facially plausible, the
complaint must allow “the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
court views the facts in the complaint in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party and will grant a Rule 12(c)
motion only if “it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim
for relief.” Northern Indiana Gun and Outdoor
Shows, Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452
(7th Cir. 1998). However, the court is “not obliged to
ignore any facts set forth in the complaint that undermine
the plaintiff's claim or to assign any weight to
unsupported conclusions of law.” Id. As
mentioned, 12(c) permits judgments based on pleadings alone.
Such pleadings include any instruments attached as exhibits,
the complaint, as well as the answer. Id. Where the
plaintiff moves for judgment on the pleadings, the motion
should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that the
non-moving party cannot prove facts sufficient to support its
position. Hous. Auth. Risk Retention Grp. v. Chi. Hous.
Auth., 378 F.3d 596, 600 (7th Cir. 2004). Judgment may
be granted on the pleadings only if all material allegations
of fact are admitted or not controverted in the pleadings and
only questions of law remain to be decided by the court.
Maloy v. Stucky, Lauer & Young, 2018 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 58084, at *4 (N.D. Ind. Apr.5, 2018).
initial matter, the Court will address Edge's motion for
leave file a surreply. (Filing No. 26). Edge
contends a surreply is necessary because the Board has
introduced new legal arguments in its reply brief.
In particular, she argues the Board newly asserted that her
claims are not preempted by the new state statute.
(Filing No. 23 at 1-3) and newly argued that Indiana
Code § 34-13-3.5 does not add an exhaustion of
administrative remedies requirement. (Filing No. 23 at
3). The Board opposes any surreply arguing that it did
not raise new arguments in its reply brief, but rather merely
responded to issues first raised by Edge in her response
court's decision to permit the filing of a sur-reply is
purely discretionary. Meraz-Camacho v. United
States, 417 Fed.Appx. 558, 559 (7th Cir. 2011)
(unpublished opinion). Upon review of the parties briefing,
the Court determines that the Board did indeed raise a new
issue in their reply brief. Accordingly, the motion
for leave (Filing No. 26) is
granted and the information in the surreply
(Filing No. 26-1) will be considered by the Court.
Complaint, Edge asserts claims against the Board for (1)
interference with, restraint and/or denial of substantive
FMLA statutory rights; (2) retaliation for exercising
substantive FMLA statutory rights; (3) violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and
violation of Article I, Section 12 of the Indiana
Constitution; and (4) petition for review of the findings
entered by the Board following Edge's cancellation of her
teaching contract pursuant to Ind. Code § 20-28-7.5.
(Filing No. 1 at 9-15.) The Board moves for partial
judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Edge failed to comply
with the written notice requirements of ...