United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 13)
Hall United States District Judge
plaintiff, Emily Doe, by and through her parents and next
friends, Jane and John Doe, filed a Complaint on November 10,
2017. See Complaint (“Compl.”) (Doc. No.
1). In it, Doe brings five claims against the Enfield Board
of Education and individual defendants Superintendent Jeffrey
Schumann, Principal Andrew Longey, and Vice Principal Connel
Clark in their individual and official capacities. See
id. Doe's claims include violation of the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Counts One and
Two), negligence (Count Three), negligent supervision (Count
Four), and negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count
Five). See id. The defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss Counts One and Two and/or Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings on February 27, 2018. See Motion to
Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss”) (Doc. No. 13).
reasons stated below, the defendants' Motion to Dismiss
is GRANTED, and Counts One and Two of the
Complaint are DISMISSED.
Complaint alleges the following facts. At the time of
the events that are the subject of the Complaint, Emily Doe
was a 14-year-old student at Enfield High School.
See Compl. at ¶ 9. She had special education
needs due to her mental disabilities, including a diagnosis
or history of Attention Deficit Disorder, Anxiety Disorder,
Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Mixed Expressive and Receptive
Language Disorder. See Compl. at ¶ 10. Student
A was another student at Enfield High School, who was
committed to the Department of Children and Families
(“DCF”) and who the Complaint alleges had a
history of aggressive behavior and a propensity for sexual
violence about which the defendants knew or should have
known. See id. at ¶¶ 13-14.
November 11, 2015, Student A called Doe at home and told her
that he wanted to take her virginity. See id. at
¶ 17. He asked her if he could do it the next day, and
Doe said no. See id. The next day at school, in a
public location that was observed or observable by the
defendants, Student A told Doe to follow him. See
id. at ¶ 19. Although she did not want to, Doe
followed him, and he led her to a hallway in the school's
basement that was undergoing construction. See id.
at ¶ 23.
Complaint alleges that the defendants and their agents failed
to block access to the area under construction or otherwise
ensure that the hallway did not become a dangerous location
that could be used by students for acts of misconduct.
See id. at ¶ 21. The Complaint further alleges
that the defendants and their agents observed or should have
observed that Student A brought Doe to an unsafe location
where she was not scheduled to be at that time. See
id. at ¶ 23.
A then dragged Doe into the boys' bathroom and raped her
in one of the stalls. See id. at ¶¶ 24-25.
The Complaint alleges that Vice Principal Clark was or should
have been in the proximity where this occurred, but failed to
timely respond. See id. at ¶¶ 25-26. Vice
Principal Clark opened the door to the bathroom after the
assault had occurred and asked who was in the boys'
bathroom. See id. at ¶¶ 28-29. Doe wanted
to yell out, but felt threatened by Student A not to tell
Vice Principal Clark what was happening. See id. at
¶ 29. Doe exited the stall and, when Vice Principal
Clark asked why she was there, she answered that she had to
use the bathroom and must have walked into the wrong one.
See id. at ¶¶ 30-31. Vice Principal Clark
then sent her back to class. See id. at ¶ 31.
told two friends what had happened when she returned to
class, and she was called to Principal Longey's office.
See id. at ¶¶ 32-33. She told Vice
Principal Clark and Principal Longey about the sexual
assault. See id. at ¶ 33. Administrators then
contacted the police, and Doe was brought by her mother to
Connecticut Children's Medical Center for sexual assault
evaluation. See id. at ¶ 34. The construction
area in the basement was closed off from student access
starting November 24, 2015. See id. at ¶ 35.
report was filed anonymously with DCF, alleging inadequate
supervision at the school. See id. at ¶ 36. DCF
conducted an investigation, but closed the matter without
findings of neglect, stating that Principal Longey and Vice
Principal Clark addressed the situation swiftly after the
incident. See id. at ¶ 38. The Complaint
alleges, however, that DCF did not conduct a thorough
investigation. See id. The Complaint further alleges
that Doe suffered severe emotional distress as a result of
the incident. See id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to plead
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc.
8(a). Under Rule 12(b)(6), to survive a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim, that plain statement must allege
facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.
See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557
(2007). “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.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While this plausibility
standard does not require probability, it is not satisfied by
“a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully” or by allegations that are “merely
consistent with a defendant's liability.”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
must accept all material factual allegations of the complaint
as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
plaintiff. See Hemi Grp., LLC v. City of New York,
559 U.S. 1, 5 (2010); Jaghory v. N.Y. State Dep't
Educ., 131 F.3d 326, 329 (2d Cir. 1997). However, the
court is not required to accept as true a “legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). In
those instances, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. The court may consider “only the facts alleged
in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or
incorporated by reference in the pleadings, and matters of
which judicial notice should be taken.” Samuels v.
Air Trans. Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 15 (2d Cir. 1993).
One of the Complaint alleges that defendants Superintendent
Schumann, Principal Longey, and Vice Principal Clark violated
Doe's rights under the Due Process Clause by failing to
protect her from sexual assault by Student A. See
Compl. at ¶¶ 41- 57. Count Two alleges that the
Enfield Board of Education violated Doe's rights under the Due
Process Clause by failing to train and supervise its
employees and thereby adopting a custom or policy of not
addressing safety concerns related to construction within the
building and sexual assault amongst students. See
id. at ¶¶ 58-67. Counts Three, Four, and Five
are not addressed by the Motion to Dismiss.
defendants argue that Counts One and Two should be dismissed
because the Due Process Clause does not require the
defendants to affirmatively protect Doe from assault unless
Doe had a special relationship with the state or the state
assisted in creating the danger to Doe. See
Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss (“Mem. in
Supp.”) (Doc. No. 13-1) at 9-10. The defendants argue
that neither is the case here because there is no special
relationship based on compulsory school attendance and a
failure to intervene does not constitute an affirmative act
in creating the danger. See Id. at 10-12. The
defendants additionally argue that, even if they were
required to protect Doe, their actions or inactions did not
rise to the level of egregious and outrageous conduct
necessary to sustain a substantive due process claim. See
id. at 12-14. Finally, the defendants argue that Count
Two against the Enfield Board of Education should be
dismissed because Doe has not alleged facts supporting a
custom or policy sufficient to establish municipal liability
under the Monell doctrine. See id. at
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Claim (Count One)
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment states that
“[n]o State shall . . . deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S.
Const. amend. XIV, § 1. “Among the liberties
protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment is ‘a right to be free from . . . unjustified
intrusions on personal security.'” Matican v.
City of New York, 524 F.3d 151, 155 (2d Cir. 2008)
(quoting Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 673
(1977)). Doe here alleges that this includes the right to be
free from sexual abuse. See Compl. at ¶¶
56, 66. The defendants do not dispute that such a right is
included within the substantive protections of the Due
Process Clause. See Mem. in Supp. at 9.
“nothing in the language of the Due Process Clause
itself requires the State to protect the life, liberty, and
property of its citizens against invasion by private
actors.” DeShaney v. Winnebago Cty. Dep't of
Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 195 (1989). Thus, the Due
Process Clause “generally confer[s] no affirmative
right to governmental aid, even where such aid may be
necessary to secure life, liberty, or property interests of
which the government itself may not deprive the
individual.” Id. at 196. “[A]
State's failure to protect an individual against private
violence simply does not constitute a violation of the Due
Process Clause.” Id. at 197.
DeShaney, the Second Circuit has recognized two
exceptions to this rule. See Matican, 524 F.3d at
155. “First, the state or its agents may owe a
constitutional obligation to the victim of private violence
if the state had a ‘special relationship' with the
victim.” Id. (citing Ying Jing Gan v. City
of New York, 996 F.2d 522, 533 (2d Cir. 1993)).
“Second, the state may owe such an obligation if its
agents ‘in some way had assisted in creating or
increasing the danger to the victim.'” Id.
(quoting Dwares v. City of New York, 985 F.2d 94,
98-99 (2d Cir.1993), overruled on other grounds by
Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence &
Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993)).
addition to alleging facts sufficient to satisfy one of the
two above exceptions, in order to state a due process claim,
the plaintiff must also allege facts to plausibly show that
the defendants' behavior was “so egregious, so
outrageous, that it may fairly be said to shock the