United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
IQBAL BHOMBAL, individually and as next friend of minor Z.B., Plaintiff,
IRVING INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT and LINDSAY SANDERS, in her individual capacity, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Irving Independent School
District's (IISD)motion to dismiss, Doc. 10, and
Defendant Lindsay Sanders' (Principal Sanders) motion to
dismiss, Doc. 11. For the reasons that follow, the Court
GRANTS Defendants' motions.
Iqbal Bhombal (Bhombal) filed suit individually and on behalf
of his minor child, Z.B., for violations of 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and Title VI, and for state-law intentional infliction
of emotional distress. Doc. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 18, 21,
26, 28. Bhombal's claims stem primarily from an incident
at John Haley Elementary School, which Z.B. attended during
the 2016-2017 school year. Id. ¶ 7. On March 9,
2017, several students reported that Z.B. had a bomb in his
lunch box and called him “Tally, ” shorthand for
the Taliban. Id. Nothing came of the incident until
March 23, 2017, when Principal Sanders called a meeting with
Bhombal and Z.B. to discuss the incident. Id.
Principal Sanders issued Z.B. a one-day in-school suspension.
Id. On March 27, Z.B. was called again to Principal
Sanders' office to discuss the incident. Id.
¶ 8. Bhombal was not told about this second meeting even
though he had requested that the school refrain from
questioning Z.B. unless one of his parents was present.
Id. When Bhombal discovered Z.B. had been questioned
again, he removed Z.B. from school. Id. Later that
afternoon, the Irving Police arrived at Bhombal's home
and issued him a criminal trespass warning that prevents him
from setting foot on IISD property. Id. Bhombal
appealed Z.B.'s suspension and issuance of the criminal
trespass warning but his appeal was denied. Id. In
May 2017, Z.B. was involved in an altercation with other
fourth-grade boys and was later assigned to a different
elementary school for the 2017-2018 school year. Id.
Bhombal filed suit, IISD and Principal Sanders filed separate
motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Doc. 10; Doc. 11. Bhombal
filed one response addressing both Defendants' motions,
Doc. 18, and IISD and Principal Sanders filed a joint reply,
Doc. 21. Thus, Defendants' motions are ripe for review.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Rule
12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a plaintiff's
complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” In considering a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, “[t]he court accepts all
well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” In re Katrina Canal
Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). But
the court will “not look beyond the face of the
pleadings to determine whether relief should be granted based
on the alleged facts.” Spivey v. Robertson,
197 F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir. 1999).
survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“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.” Id. “The
plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id. When well-pleaded facts fail to achieve this
plausibility standard, “the complaint has alleged - but
it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotation marks
and alterations omitted).
Section 1983 Claims
claims IISD and Principal Sanders violated his and Z.B.'s
Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Doc. 1,
¶¶ Compl., 18-19, 21-22. IISD argues that Bhombal
inadequately pleaded governmental liability under §
1983, Doc. 10, IISD Mot. to Dismiss, 5, and Principal Sanders
claims she is entitled to qualified immunity from
Bhombal's §1983 claims, Doc. 11, Sanders Mot. to
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must (1) allege
a violation of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States and (2) demonstrate that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” Leffall v. Dall. Indep. Sch.
Dist., 28 F.3d 521, 525 (5th Cir. 1994).
Government-entity, or municipal, liability “for section
1983 violations results if a deprivation of constitutional
rights was inflicted pursuant to official custom or
policy.” Piotrowski v. City of Hou., 237 F.3d
567, 579 (5th Cir. 2001). The primary step in this analysis
is whether the government entity violated the plaintiff's
constitutional rights. See Becerra v. Asher, 105
F.3d 1042, 1048 (5th Cir. 1997)(“[W]ithout an
underlying constitutional violation, there can be no §
1983 liability imposed on the school district.”). A
public servant is entitled to qualified immunity unless: (1)
“‘a constitutional right would have been violated
on the facts alleged'” and (2) “‘the
right was clearly established' at the time of the
violation.” Kitchen v. Dall. Cty., 759 F.3d
468, 476 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting Saucier v. Katz,
533 U.S. 194, 200 (2001)). Courts have discretion in deciding
which of the two prongs should be addressed first.
a plaintiff must adequately plead a constitutional violation
to establish government-entity liability and to overcome a
qualified immunity defense, the Court will address first
whether Bhombal has adequately pleaded that IISD and
Principal Sanders violated his and Z.B.'s Fourth, Fifth,
and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Because Bhombal's claims
against Defendants stem from the same facts, the Court will
jointly consider Bhombal's claims against each
1.Fourth Amendment ...