United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
RUBEN XAVIER MARTINEZ, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEXT FRIEND OF N.M., PLAINTIFF,
NEW DEAL INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, DEFENDANT.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
YEAKEL UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE
the court in the above-styled and numbered cause are
Defendant New Deal Independent School District's Motion
to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed February 5,
2019 (Dkt. No. 28), Plaintiffs Response in Opposition to
Motion filed February 13, 2019 (Dkt. No. 29), and
Defendant's Reply Brief in Support filed February 28,
2019 (Dkt. No. 32). Having reviewed the motion, response,
reply, applicable law, and the entire case file, the court
will grant the motion for the reasons that follow.
Ruben Martinez's son, N.M., was a student at New Deal
High School ("New Deal") in the New Deal
Independent School District ("New Deal ISD") in
Lubbock County, Texas. N.M. lived with his mother in New Deal
ISD until April of 2016 when he moved in with his father,
Martinez, who resides within the attendance boundaries of
Cooper High School ("Cooper") in the Cooper
Independent School District ("Cooper ISD"). Despite
moving out of New Deal ISD, N.M. continued to attend New Deal
for the remainder of his eighth-grade year, all of his
freshman year, and half of his sophomore year.
N.M.'s best friends is J.J. Through N.M.'s friendship
with J.J., Martinez met JJ.'s mother, Natasha. Martinez
and Natasha married in August of 2017. Natasha's second
child, E.J., has learning disabilities. Natasha, J.J., and
E.J. moved out of New Deal ISD and moved in with N.M. and
Martinez in Cooper ISD. Cooper ISD is a large school
district, and Natasha felt that it was better equipped to
effectively deal with E.J.'s learning disability. E.J.
and JJ. left New Deal and enrolled in schools in Cooper ISD.
J.J., who is also a football player, wanted to stay at New
Deal with N.M. for his sophomore year, but was not permitted
to remain enrolled at New Deal. However, N.M., who developed
into a talented football player and track athlete, was
permitted to stay at New Deal despite not living in New Deal
ISD. During the fall of 2017, Martinez drove N.M. to and from
New Deal, approximately 20 miles each way. This daily trip
was time-consuming and expensive.
January of 2018, N.M. enrolled in Cooper. When New Deal's
football coach learned that N.M. had enrolled in Cooper, he
told Martinez that if N.M. returned to New Deal within 24
hours, the school would allow J.J. to attend New Deal as
well. Martinez declined the offer and the coach became upset.
Allegedly, New Deal falsely reported to the University
Interscholastic League ("UIL") that N.M.
transferred to Cooper for "athletic purposes" and
New Deal did so for "the sole purpose of punishing
[N.M.] for enrolling in a different school." UIL
accepted New Deal's claim, determined that N.M. enrolled
at Cooper for athletic purposes, declared N.M. ineligible to
play varsity sports until January 2019, and denied N.M.'s
appeal of his ineligibility.
argues that athletics did not play a role in the decision for
N.M. to enroll at Cooper in January of 2018. N.M. is a
straight-A student ranked 14th in a class of 400. Cooper is a
much larger school than New Deal and Martinez asserts it
offers significantly more educational opportunities, such as
an abundance of dual credit, accelerated, and AP courses not
available at New Deal. Martinez asserts that he enrolled N.M.
at Cooper primarily because of the wealth of educational
opportunities offered by Cooper, Cooper's proximity to
N.M.'s home, and N.M.'s close relationship with J.J.,
who also attends Cooper.
November 8, 2018, Martinez filed a First Amended Complaint
(Dkt. No. 10) under Section 1983, alleging violations of the
14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Martinez alleged that
UIL, Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt, and New Deal
violated N.M.'s constitutional rights to equal protection
of the law, due process, and a public education. Defendants
UIL and Breithaupt moved to dismiss the complaint under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that
Martinez failed to state a claim for any constitutional
violation (Dkt. No. 11). The court concluded that Martinez
failed to adequately state an underlying constitutional claim
against UIL. On January 7, 2019, the court granted the motion
and dismissed Martinez's claims against UIL with
prejudice, leaving the claims against New Deal pending.
January 22, 2019, Martinez filed a Second Amended Complaint
(Dkt. No. 24) against New Deal. Martinez re-asserts a
violation of N.M.'s constitutional right to equal
protection of the law as a "class of one" and asks
the court to assess actual damages and punitive or exemplary
New Deal moves to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Martinez failed to
state a claim for any constitutional violation (Dkt. No. 28).
The court concludes that Martinez failed to adequately state
an underlying constitutional claim against New Deal. The
court will grant the motion and dismiss Martinez's claim
against New Deal with prejudice.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move to
dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint
need not contain detailed factual allegations, but in order
to avoid dismissal, the plaintiffs factual allegations
"must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also Cuvillier v.
Taylor, 503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir. 2007). A plaintiffs
obligation "requires more than labels and conclusions,
and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do." Id. A complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter "to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v.
Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. 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."
Id. In evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court
must construe the complaint liberally and accept all of the
plaintiffs factual allegations in the complaint as true.
See In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d
191, 205 (5th Cir. 2009).
brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging an
underlying violation of N.M.'s constitutional right to
equal protection. However, "the gravamen of the
complaint here is the denial of the right to participate in
interscholastic sports," not the right to equal
protection. Niles v. Univ. Interscholastic League,715 F.2d 1027, 1031 (5th Cir. 1983). The Fifth Circuit
"has considered many variations of claims alleging
infringement of constitutional rights in the context of
eligibility rules for competition in interscholastic leagues
and has uniformly rejected constitutional challenges to those
rules." Cornerstone Christian Sch. v. Univ.
InterscholasticLeague,563 F.3d 127, 136 (5th
Cir. 2009). Martinez has not addressed this line of ...