United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
STEPHEN and NORA SCHUTT, a/n/f for A.S., CHERISH HOOPER, a/n/f for J.H., and GUADALUPE MARES, a/n/f for A.N., Plaintiffs,
GARLAND INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, MICHELE BURFORD, LESLIE COBURN, GRAYDENE BROWN, JENNIFER BENAVIDEZ, and MICHAEL ROLL, Defendants. MICHAEL ROELL, Counter-Plaintiff,
PLAINTIFFS, Counter-Defendants. MICHAEL ROELL, Cross-Plaintiff,
GARLAND INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, GRAYDENE BROWN, and JENNIFER BENAVIDEZ, Cross-Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are the motions to dismiss filed by Defendants
Garland Independent School District (“GISD”),
Gradyne Brown, Jennifer Benavidez, and Plaintiffs Stephen and
Nora Schutt, as next friend for A.S.; Cherish Hooper as next
friend for J.H.; and Guadalupe Mares, as next friend for
A.N.; against pro se Defendant Michael Roell. (Docs.
89, 102 & 104). These parties move to dismiss all
crossclaims and counterclaims asserted by Roell for a variety
of reasons, including for mootness, a failure to state a
claim, and a lack of jurisdiction. As discussed below, the
Court GRANTS Defendants' motions to
dismiss (Doc. 102; Doc. 104) and also GRANTS
Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss (Doc. 89).
case involves the alleged abuse of disabled students at the
hands of a school district, teacher, and school officials.
The current motions arise from a complaint filed on June 28,
2017, by parents Stephen and Nora Schutt on behalf of their
minor child against GISD that named Roell, a teacher, as a
defendant. Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 2. On January 3, 2018, the
Schutts filed a second amended complaint that named school
officials Brown and Benavidez as additional defendants. Doc.
28, Second Am. Compl., 1. On April 17, 2018, the Court then
consolidated this case, 3:17-CV-1708-B (“Schutt
case”), with two later-filed cases, 3:17-CV-1776-B
(“Hooper case”) and 3:17-CV-3461-B (“Mares
case”), which involved related allegations brought by
similar parents and their minor children. Doc. 52,
Consolidation Order, 1.
to consolidation-and acting pro se, as he has
throughout the entirety of this litigation-Roell had filed
crossclaims in each of the cases against GISD, Brown, and
Benavidez. He also counterclaimed against all of the
plaintiffs. Against all plaintiffs he counterclaimed for
defamation, slander, and libel; against the Schutt plaintiffs
he also added a gross-negligence claim. Doc. 38, Roell's
Schutt Ans., 6; No. 3:17-cv-1776, Doc. 40, Roell's Hooper
Ans., 6; No. 3:17-cv-3461, Doc. 14, Roell's Mares Ans.,
6. In the Hopper and Mares cases, Roell crossclaimed against
Defendants GISD, Brown, and Benavidez for hostile work
environment and wrongful termination. No. 3:17-cv-1776, Doc.
40, Roell's Hooper Ans., 6; No. 3:17-cv-3461, Doc. 14,
Roell's Mares Ans., 6. In the Schutt case, Roell filed
these same crossclaims, but also added a claim for gross
negligence. Doc. 38, Roell's Schutt Ans., 6 (alleging
GISD, Brown, and Benavidez committed “[g]ross
negligence for not providing information, including
paperwork, about [student] to Michael Roell . . ., hostile
work environment . . . and wrongful termination.”).
to consolidation, Plaintiffs never moved to dismiss
Roell's claims. Brown and Benavidez filed motions to
dismiss each of the crossclaims prior to consolidation. Doc.
46, Officials' MTD (Schutt case); No. 3:17-cv-1776, Doc.
49, Officials' MTD (Hooper case); No. 3:17-cv-3461, Doc.
18, Officials' MTD (Mares case). GISD also filed motions
to dismiss each of the crossclaims prior to consolidation.
Doc. 43, GISD's MTD (Schutt case); No. 3:17-cv-1776, Doc.
46, GISD's MTD (Hooper case); No. 3:17-cv-3461, Doc. 16,
GISD's MTD (Mares case). Those motions were mooted when
the case was consolidated. Doc. 52, Consolidation Order, 1
(denying as moot motions filed in No. 3:17-cv-1776 and No.
3:17-cv-3461); Doc. 53, Elec. Order (denying as moot motions
filed in No. 3:17-cv-1708).
consolidation, the plaintiffs from each case filed a third
amended complaint on May 4, 2018, that consolidated their
claims from the three separate cases. Doc. 56, Third Am.
Compl. Roell never filed an amended answer, nor reasserted
his counterclaims before the Court stayed all proceedings
relating to him, on July 13, 2018. See Doc. 73,
Elec. Order. The same day, Plaintiffs filed a joint answer to
Roell's counterclaims. Doc. 74, Pls.' Ans.
next filing related to Roell was made on March 21, 2019, when
Plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss Roell's
counterclaims. Doc. 89, Pls.' MTD; Doc. 90, Pls.' Br.
The Court lifted the stay as to Roell on May 3, 2019, and
extended his response deadline for the motion. A few days
later, GISD, Brown, and Benavidez filed their own motions to
dismiss. Doc. 102, Officials' MTD; Doc. 103,
Officials' Br.; Doc. 104, GISD's MTD; Doc. 105,
and Benavidez moved for dismissal with prejudice on the
grounds of mootness and failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Doc. 103, Officials' Br., 5. GISD
moved for dismissal with prejudice for a lack of subject
matter jurisdiction and a failure to state a claim. Doc. 105,
GISD's Br., 6-7, 9-10. Roell responded (Doc. 106) to both
motions on May 28, 2019, providing more facts in support of
his claims. Brown and Benavidez replied (Doc. 107) on May 31,
2019. The Court now considers the pending motions.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes the Court to
dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Id. 12(b)(6). To
survive a 12(b)(6) motion, “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face” must be
pled. 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
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. At this stage, a court
“must accept all well-pleaded facts alleged in the
complaint as true and must construe the allegations in the
light that is most favorable to the plaintiff.”
J&J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Live Oak Cty. Post No.
6119 Veterans of Foreign Wars, 2009 WL 483157, at *3
(S.D. Tex. Feb. 24, 2009) (quoting Cent. Laborers'
Pension Fund v. Integrated Elec. Servs., 497 F.3d 546,
550 (5th Cir. 2007)). “The ultimate question in a Rule
12(b)(6) motion is whether the complaint states a valid claim
when all well-pleaded facts are assumed true and are viewed
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Lone
Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d
383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing In re Katrina Canal
Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007)).
of whether the plaintiff is proceeding pro se or is
represented by counsel, conclusory allegations or legal
conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not
suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss.” Taylor v.
Books a Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378 (5th Cir. 2002)
(internal quotations omitted).
Court first will address whether any of Roell's claims
are moot for failure to replead. Then the Court will
addresses Roell's crossclaims against GISD, Brown, and
Benavidez. Lastly, the ...