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Annie Clay, et al v. District of Columbia

December 14, 2011

ANNIE CLAY, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Beryl A. Howell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case is a civil action to enforce rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), as amended, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq., as well as under the Fifth Amendment's due process clause. Compl. at 1. Congress enacted the IDEA "to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public Education [('FAPE')] that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living." Petties ex rel. Martin v. District of Columbia, No. 10-7149, 2011 WL 6004534, at *1 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 2, 2011) (quoting 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A)). The defendant in this case, the District of Columbia, filed a partial motion to dismiss, which the Court referred to a Magistrate Judge for a Report and Recommendation. Presently before the Court are the plaintiffs' objections to the Report and Recommendation dated September 9, 2011 of Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson, ECF No. 29 (the "Report"), as well as the plaintiffs' motion to treat certain allegations in the Amended Complaint as admitted, ECF No. 24. For the reasons explained below, the Court will accept and adopt the Magistrate Judge's recommendations, with the clarifications and modifications explained in this Memorandum Opinion, and will grant the defendant's partial motion to dismiss. In addition, the Court will deny the plaintiffs' motion to treat certain allegations in the Amended Complaint as admitted.

I. DEFENDANT'S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

A. Background

Magistrate Judge Robinson has described the background of this case in the Report. See Report at 1-5. The Court will therefore provide only a brief overview of the relevant facts. On August 25, 2009, Plaintiff Annie Clay, "[i]n her own right" and on behalf of her granddaughter, commenced this civil action against the District of Columbia to enforce rights under the IDEA and the Fifth Amendment due process cause. Report at

1. The plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint with leave of court on September 30, 2010.*fn1 Id.; ECF No. 18, Am. Compl.In the Amended Complaint, the plaintiffs "seek reversal of a Hearing Officer's Determination (HOD) issued May 28, 2009, which denied them [their rights under IDEA and the Fifth Amendment] in violation of 20 U.S.C. §§ 1415(b)(6), 1415(b)(7), 1415(c)(2), 1415(f), 1415(h) and the Fifth Amendment." Report at 3. Plaintiffs "seek damages and injunctive relief for Defendant['s] violation of Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment and IDEA rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983." Id. The plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment and Section 1983 claims are based on allegations that the District violated the plaintiffs' IDEA and due process rights, inter alia, because the attorney who represented the District in the IDEA administrative proceeding filed a late and deficient response to the plaintiffs' complaint and a late notice of insufficiency and 2010.

motion to dismiss, and because the hearing officer dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint at the administrative hearing. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 58-72.

The District of Columbia has filed a partial motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Reportat 4. Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the District seeks to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (1) the plaintiffs' IDEA claims involving school years "2003-2006" as barred by the statute of limitations,*fn2 and (2) the plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment and Section 1983 claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Id. The partial motion to dismiss also seeks to dismiss the Fifth Amendment and Section 1983 claims under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Id.

In the Report and Recommendation issued on September 9, 2011, the Magistrate Judge recommended dismissing the plaintiffs' claims involving school years "2003-2006" as barred by the statute of limitations. Id. at 8-11. The Magistrate Judge also recommended that the plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment and Section 1983 claims be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Id. at 11-15.

On September 23, 2011, the plaintiffs filed five objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.*fn3 See Pls.' Objections to the Report and Recommendations of the Magistrate Judge ("Pls.' Obj."), ECF No. 30. The District has responded to the objections. Def.'s Resp. to Pls.' Objections to the Report and Recommendations of the Magistrate Judge ("Def.'s Resp."), ECF No. 31.

For the reasons explained below, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's recommendations, with the modifications and clarifications reflected in this Memorandum Opinion, and grants the partial motion to dismiss.

B. The Plaintiffs' Objections

1.Objection Regarding The Designation Of The Complaint

The plaintiffs' first objection concerns whether the operative Complaint in this action, ECF No. 18, should be termed a "first" amended complaint or a "second" amended complaint. The plaintiffs object to parts of the Report that refer to the document as a "second" amended complaint, since the plaintiffs contend that they have only amended their complaint once, despite the procedural confusion that accompanied the amendment. See supra n.1. This objection lacks legal significance. The Report has clearly identified ...


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