United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell, United States District Judge
Ronald David Jones filed this action against Defendant Grand
Canyon University (“GCU”). Doc. 1. Plaintiff
asserts violations of his constitutional, religious, and
civil rights. Docs. 8, 10. Plaintiff has named the following
individuals as additional Defendants: Paul Newman, Don Done,
Andrew Sutherland, Kenneth Hood, Rose Shaw, Shakeisha
Chambers, Casey Fetkenhier, Terry Bovinet, and Ted Rivera.
Doc. 10. GCU has filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs claims
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Doc. 19. Defendants Chambers and Done - the only
individual Defendants who have appeared in this case - join
GCU's motion to dismiss. Doc. 56. The motion is fully
briefed (Docs. 59, 64), and no party has requested oral
argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
grant Defendants' motion.
following facts are taken from Plaintiff's second amended
complaint and are taken as true for the purposes of this
motion. Defendant GCU is a private Christian university
located in Phoenix, Arizona. See Doc. 10 at 2; Doc.
19 at 3-6. All other Defendants reside in Arizona. Doc. 10 at
2-3. Plaintiff is a Florida resident and former student of
GCU. See id., ¶¶ 2-11. Between February
2010 and April 2014, Plaintiff enrolled in several online
courses at GCU seeking his master's degree in Christian
February 2010, Plaintiff spoke with Defendant Newman.
Id., ¶ 2. At that time, Newman told Plaintiff
that GCU “would find Plaintiff a job” and
“promised Plaintiff [he would be] paid $1, 000 each
semester if he maintained a B average.” Id.
Plaintiff alleges that Newman was tasked with completing
Plaintiff's orientation with GCU, but Newman failed to
show Plaintiff how to enter responses to student posts in
online classes or how to check grades. Id.
“Plaintiff completed two eight week courses and
received two C's because of Defendant Newman's
actions or inactions during Plaintiff's orientation . . .
. [Newman's actions] caused Plaintiff to lose $1000 a
semester.” Id. “When Plaintiff finally
pull [sic] grades up to a 3.0, Defendant Don Done went back
and changed Plaintiff's A grade to a B causing
Plaintiff's average to fall below 3.0.”
2010, Defendant Andrew Sutherland gave Plaintiff a failing
grade without grading Plaintiff's completed assignments.
Id., ¶ 4. Plaintiff asserts that Sutherland
“refused to read [the] completed assignment[s] because
of Plaintiff['s] perspective of the Bible being a Black
April 2011, Defendant Kenneth Hood gave Plaintiff a C grade
in an unnamed course. Id. ¶ 5. Plaintiff
asserts that this grade was improper because he “was
grade[d] based on race Black [sic] while White student[s]
[were] given better grades for work that was not as good as
Plaintiff['s] work.” Id. Furthermore,
“Hood was racist toward Plaintiff, ” “often
times expressed his racist opinion when referring to
Plaintiff['s] work[, ]” and “was encouraged
by [GCU] to give Plaintiff [a] bad grade so that Plaintiff
would not receive the $1000 promised to Plaintiff for keeping
a 3.0 average.” Id.
August 2011, Defendant Rose Shaw “dropped Plaintiff out
[of] a class and out of the university” while
“Plaintiff had an A average in  Ryan Hanning's
class[.]” Id., ¶ 6. Plaintiff “had
to take the class over again losing the money paid for the
March 2014, Defendant Shakeisha Chambers “gave
Plaintiff a bad grade in [an] internship to force Plaintiff
to work on a second master's degree.” Id.,
¶ 7. Plaintiff had completed all course work for the
internship and submitted all requested information to GCU.
Id. When “[GCU] said they did not receive
Plaintiff['s] information from Plaintiff['s] place of
internship[, ]” Plaintiff “personally went back
to place of internship” to check. Id.
Plaintiff asserts that he checked with his place of
internship “several times, ” and “every
time was told that all information was submitted.”
April 2014, Defendant Casey Fetkenhier “tried to
encourage Plaintiff into going to place of internship and
‘make them email' Plaintiff's grades.”
Id., ¶ 8. Plaintiff states that “[i]t
sounded as if [Fetkenhier] wanted Plaintiff to break the
law.” Id. Additionally, “Fetkenhier
tried to bull[y] Plaintiff into working on a second
master's degree” by “call[ing] Plaintiff on
[his] cell phone . . . after being told not to call [that
number].” Id. Ultimately, GCU “enrolled
Plaintiff in a second degree program and now says that
Plaintiff owes them money” and “cannot get [his
first] Master's Degree until [he] complete[s] a second
Master's Degree program.” Id.
point during Plaintiff's time at GCU, Defendants Terry
Bovient and Ted Rivera each, in apparently distinct and
unrelated instances, “gave Plaintiff a grade of C while
giving White students and females an A for work that was not
as good as Plaintiff['s].” Id.,
¶¶ 9-10. Furthermore, Plaintiff claims that he
filed a complaint against GCU, its instructors and
counselors, but the individual that took the complaint, Kenya
King, never turned it in. Id., ¶ 11.
each factual allegation described above, Plaintiff asserts
that the relevant party engaged in the described conduct
because of Plaintiff's race, sex, age, and religious
beliefs. See, e.g., id., ¶ 12.
successful motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) must show
either that the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or
fails to allege facts sufficient to support its theory.
Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d
696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A complaint that sets forth a
cognizable legal theory will survive a motion to dismiss as
long as it contains “sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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.” Id., 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at ...