United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
K.C., a child, by her parents and next friends, CHARLES AND HEATHER C., Plaintiffs
LAPORTE COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, et al., Defendants
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
and her parents brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the
Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and
Indiana law against the LaPorte Community School Corporation,
South LaPorte County Special Education Cooperative, and
various individuals associated with those entities after K.C.
(who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder) was
allegedly seized and restrained in a chair by employees of
the Kingsford Heights Elementary School. The
defendants’ motion for partial dismissal under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is before the court. For the following
reasons, the court grants the motion.
factual allegations aren’t required to meet the notice
pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). To survive a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b), the factual allegations in the
complaint must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face” – one that "raise[s]
a right to relief above the speculative level",
“allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged", and
gives the defendant fair notice of the claims being asserted
and the grounds upon which they rest. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “A pleading
that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or a
‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.’ ”Ashcroft v. Igbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. v,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In determining whether the
claims asserted are plausible, the court construes the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs,
accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, draws all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff’s favor, Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Anicich v. Home
Depot U.S.A., Inc., 852 F.3d 643, 648 (7th Cir. 2017).
defendants seek dismissal of the federal claims asserted
against five of the eight individual defendants (Paula
Nichols, Rebecca Jeffers, Marcia Alexander, Natasha Henry and
Terry Malstaff) and the ADA and Rehabiliation claims asserted
against the LaPorte Community School Corporation and the
South LaPorte County Special Education
Cooperative. The plaintiffs limited their response to
the claims against Ms. Nichols, Ms. Jeffers, Ms. Alexander
(whom they collectively refer to as “school district
administration”) and the public entities, and
didn’t address the alleged deficiencies with respect to
the claims asserted against Natasha Henry, an administrative
assistant at the school, and Terry Malstaff, who allegedly
constructed the chair, effectively abandoning those claims.
See Alioto v. Town of Lisbon, 651 F.3d 715, 721 (7th
Cir. 2011); Lekas v. Briley, 405 F.3d 602, 614 (7th
Cir. 2005); Farnham v. Windle, 918 F.2d 47, 51 (7th
plaintiffs concede in their response that the ADA and
Rehabilitation Act claims against Ms. Nichols, Ms. Jeffers,
and Ms. Alexander should be dismissed, see Brewer v. Wis.
Bd. of Bar Examiners, 270 Fed.Appx. 418, 421 (7th Cir.
2008), but maintain that the facts alleged in the complaint
– specifically paragraphs 8, 72, 75-76, and 100 –
state a cause of action against them under § 1983.
complaint identifies Paula Nichols and Rebecca Jeffers as the
Director and Supervisor of the South LaPorte County Special
Education Cooperative (which is responsible “for
providing special education and related services to
participating schools and school districts”) and
alleges that they were “responsible for hiring,
supervising, and training staff, carrying out the policies of
the District and the State of Indiana’s Department of
Education, and ensuring compliance with federal and state
law, ” and “took a direct role in making
decisions regarding the delivery of special education
services to K.C..” (Cmplt. ¶¶ 20-22). Marcia
Alexander was the Principal of Kingsford Heights Elementary
School, and shared the same responsibilities as Ms. Nichols
and Ms. Jeffers. (Cmplt. ¶ 23).
plaintiffs alleges that K.C.’s teacher, Jennifer
Oberle, and paraprofessionals Teresa Vinson and Katrina
Magill, “regularly seized K.C. and forcibly confined
her in the restraint chair...for extended periods of time
over a period of at least five days”; that her father
discovered the chair “on or about September 21, 2017;
and that “the District [identified in the complaint as
the LaPorte Community School Corporation] actively conspired
to conceal its use of the restraint chair by preventing
K.C.’s father from entering the classroom before that.
(Cmplt. ¶¶ 6-9). They also contend that:
8. K.C.’s restraint and confinement were not simply the
actions of rogue employees. Rather, the administration of the
school–whose office was directly across form
K.C.’s classroom–approved of the abuse and took
an active role in its furtherance by permitting the chair to
be brought into the classroom and used.
* * *
72. The use of the [chair] was approved by...Defendants
Alexander, Oberle, Jeffers, Vinson and Magill.
* * *
75. After the restraint [chair] was discovered, K.C.’s
parents asked the School to hold an emergency meeting. A
meeting between the parents and School staff, including
Defendants Oberle, Jeffers, Nichols, and Alexander was held
at the School on or about September 29, 2017.
76. At the meeting, K.C.’s father asked why he and his
spouse were not told about the restraint desk. Defendant
Nichols stated that she had spoken with the District’s
attorney and “they had not done anything wrong.”
She also stated that Defendant Oberle’s ...