United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
PITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Giddings Independent School
District's Second Amended Motion to Dismiss. (Dkt. 14).
Having reviewed the pleadings, the parties' arguments,
and the governing law, the Court issues the following order.
Jessica Ryburn brings this action on behalf of L.W., her
minor son. L.W. was previously a student athlete at a middle
school within Defendant Giddings Independent School District
(“the District”). The claims here arise from an
injury L.W. sustained while engaged in an exercise called
“mat drills” at the direction of his coach.
alleges that it was common practice for the District's
athletic department to direct male student athletes to engage
in mat drills. The exercise involves two students
“on all fours on the mat going at each other until one
is pinned or knocked off the mat.” (2d Am. Compl., Dkt.
11, ¶ 41). These drills are purportedly dangerous. A
student sustained a serious ankle injury one year before
L.W.'s injury, and a second student, A.B., had his braces
knocked out during these drills. (Id. ¶ 45-46).
A.B.'s mother approached the District's athletic
director, Derek Fitzhenry, who ended the mat drills. However,
the mat drills resumed once Fitzhenry left the district in
April 11, 2014, Coach Strickland, a District employee,
directed L.W. to engage in mat drills. (Id. ¶
48). Two other coaches were present. (Id.). Shortly
before L.W. began the drill, another boy hit his head very
hard during the exercise and was dazed by the impact.
(Id. ¶ 49). Plaintiff asserts that, to her
knowledge, the boy did not receive a concussion assessment.
(Id.). When it was L.W.'s turn, he was sitting
on the mat on his knees when his opponent lunged forward,
spearing L.W. in the chest with his head. (Id.
¶ 50). The force of the blow knocked L.W. back off his
knees and his head slammed down on the tile floor beyond the
edge of the mat. (Id. ¶ 51). The impact caused
L.W. to lose consciousness, coming to only when another
student slapped his face. (Id. ¶ 52). Regaining
consciousness, L.W. told the coaches that his vision was
spinning, yet the coaches did not assess him for a concussion
but instead allowed L.W. to sit out the class period while
the mat drills continued. (Id. ¶¶ 54-57).
the gym class, another student helped L.W. get to the school
nurse, who provided him an ice pack and an Advil before
sending him to class without assessing him for a concussion.
(Id. ¶¶ 58-59). The nurse thereafter
called Plaintiff at work to inform her about L.W.'s
injury. (Id. ¶ 60). Plaintiff then directed
L.W.'s grandmother to retrieve him from school and take
him to the hospital. (Id. ¶ 62). After being
assessed at the hospital, L.W. was diagnosed with a severe
concussion and cerebral edema. (Id. ¶ 65). The
brain injury has caused a host of other health problems: L.W.
has experienced difficulty eating and sleeping, suffers from
depression, anger, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder,
and diminished cognitive capacity, among other problems.
(Id. ¶ 71-91).
approached L.W.'s coach a week after his injuries. She
reports that the coach dismissively told her L.W. “just
got his bell rung real good, ” and falsely claimed that
L.W. had not lost consciousness. (Id. ¶¶
67-68). This response was typical of the District's
flippant attitude toward sports-related injuries, according
to Plaintiff. Although the District's Board of Trustees
approved an Athletic Concussion Plan in 2011, that plan was
not easily accessible to students or parents on the
District's website or in the student or parent handbooks.
(Id. ¶¶ 28-33). Additionally, the
District's Athletic Guide for the 2015-2016 school year
provided little information regarding the proper handling of
sports injuries and no information specific to concussions.
(Id. ¶¶ 34-35). The sparse available
information is noteworthy, according to Plaintiff, in light
of state statutes and agency directives that policies and
procedures be in place to deal with concussions. (See
Id. ¶¶ 20-27).
failure to adequately implement these requirements has
purportedly led to injuries other than L.W.'s. Plaintiff
alleges that another student within the District suffered
three concussions over the course of three football games in
2014 and 2015. (Id. ¶ 37). In each instance,
the student was encouraged to continue playing.
(Id.). After one concussion in 2015, the student was
allegedly teased and, despite being disoriented and confused,
was allowed to drive home. (Id.¶¶ 38-39).
asserts causes of action under Title IX of the Education
Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et
seq., and 42 U.S.C § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that
the District, through subjecting male students to inherently
dangerous exercises, has deprived L.W. of an educational
opportunity on the basis of his sex. Plaintiff further
alleges that the District's failure to properly implement
concussion policies or to train its employees to handle
concussions has caused various violations of L.W.'s
constitutional rights. More specifically, Plaintiff claims
deprivations of L.W.'s rights to bodily integrity,
education, medical care, and equal protection.
evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6) the complaint must be liberally construed
in favor of the plaintiff and all facts pleaded therein must
be taken as true. Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics
Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164
(1993); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir.
1996). Although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 mandates
only that a pleading contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” this standard demands more than unadorned
accusations, “labels and conclusions, ” “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,
” or “naked assertion[s]” devoid of
“further factual enhancement.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. Id. at 570. “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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
court must initially identify pleadings that are no more than
legal conclusions not entitled to the assumption of truth,
then assume the veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations
and determine whether those allegations plausibly give rise
to an entitlement to relief. If not, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not show[n]-that the pleader is entitled
to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Throughout this process, the court
“must consider the complaint in its entirety, as well
as other sources courts ordinarily examine when ruling on
Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, in particular, documents
incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of
which a court may take judicial notice.” Tellabs,
Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308,
Court first considers Plaintiff's Title IX claim before
turning to the various constitutional claims.
IX states, in pertinent part, that “[n]o person in the
United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from
participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected
to discrimination under any education program or activity
receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .” 20
U.S.C. § 1681(a). Although the statute expressly
recognizes only administrative enforcement of Title IX, the
Supreme Court has held that ...