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Watts v. Northside Ind. School Dist.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

December 11, 2019

ROBERT WATTS
v.
NORTHSIDE IND. SCHOOL DIST., et al.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ANDREW W. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         TO: THE HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Defendant Mack Edward Breed's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, and Motion for Summary Judgment on the Pleadings (Dkt. No. 32); and Plaintiff's Response (Dkt. No. 34). The District Court referred these Motions to the undersigned for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(c) of Appendix C of the Local Rules.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Robert Watts originally brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Northside Independent School District and Mack Edward Breed in both his individual and official capacities. The undersigned authored a Report and Recommendation regarding a prior motion to dismiss recommending that the district court dismiss the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Northside Independent School District and Mack Edward Breed in his official capacity with prejudice for failure to state a claim. Dkt. No. 15. The district court adopted the recommendation (Dkt. No. 18), and thus the only remaining claims in the suit are Watts' claims against Breed individually.

         In his First Amended Complaint Watts asserts that Breed violated his substantive due process right to “bodily integrity and personal security” and that in doing so he acted with deliberate indifference. Id. at ¶ 19. Watts also sues Breed for assault and battery, negligence, and civil conspiracy. Id. at ¶ ¶ 20-22. The claims in the First Amended Complaint are essentially identical to Watts' claims in his Original Petition with the exception of the addition of the state tort claims.[1]

         Watts' claims arise from a football game he officiated on September 4, 2015, in Marble Falls, Texas. The game was between John Jay High School, which is part of Northside Independent School District and Marble Falls High School. Breed was an assistant football coach at John Jay High School and an employee of NISD. Watts was part of a referee crew from the Austin Chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials. Watts asserts that shortly before the game ended, Coach Breed, angry at some of the officials' calls, directed two John Jay players to hit Watts and “make him pay” for the bad calls and racist statements Breed alleges Watts made. Thereafter, two Jay players tackled Watts from behind, knocking him to the ground. Watts alleges he suffered cuts, bruises, abrasions, and a concussion from the hit.

         Breed moves for summary judgment on the § 1983 claim based on qualified immunity. He further moves the Court to dismiss the assault and battery, negligence, and civil conspiracy claims as barred by the relevant statute of limitations.

         II. STANDARDS

         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court must examine “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Id. at 251-52. The Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. Salazar-Limon v. City of Houston, 826 F.3d 272, 274-75 (5th Cir. 2016).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party demonstrates an absence of evidence supporting the nonmoving party's case, then the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with specific facts showing that a genuine issue for trial does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “After the nonmovant has been given an opportunity to raise a genuine factual issue, if no reasonable juror could find for the nonmovant, summary judgment will be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         B. Motion to Dismiss

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, “[t]he court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the [nonmovant].” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1182 (2008). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion does not need detailed factual allegations in order to avoid dismissal, the plaintiff's factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The Supreme Court has explained that a court need not accept as true conclusory allegations or allegations stating a legal conclusion. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“mere ...


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