United States District Court, D. Arizona
Anne Prafada, individually on her own behalf and as Guardian Ad Litem of M. a minor, Plaintiff,
Mesa Unified School District, Defendant.
G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge.
Mesa Unified School District moves to dismiss pro se Plaintiff
Anne Prafada's complaint. Doc. 51. The motion is fully
briefed, and oral argument will not aid the Court's
decision. Docs. 57, 61. Defendant also moves to strike two of
Plaintiff's filings (Docs. 63, 64, 65; Docs. 66, 68), and
Plaintiff moves for a preliminary injunction and three-judge
panel (Doc. 58). For the following reasons, the Court will
grant Defendant's motion to dismiss and deny all other
motions as moot.
Court takes the allegations of Plaintiff's complaint as
true for purposes of a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plaintiff's son,
M., is eligible for special education services and attends or
attended one of Defendant's schools. Doc. 25 at 10-11,
15. M. has been diagnosed with several conditions and
manifests various behaviors, including depression, anxiety,
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, poor concentration,
outbursts, and a need for repeated redirection. Id.
at 15-16. On March 6, 2018, Plaintiff sued individually and
on behalf of M., alleging Defendant violated her rights and
M.'s right to a free appropriate public education,
discriminated against M. and Plaintiff, and retaliated
against M. and Plaintiff with threats of criminal
prosecution. Id. at 10, 16-17.
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.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (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 556).
“The plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556).
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
argues that Plaintiff may not assert claims on behalf of M.
because she is pro se and, as a non-attorney, she may not
represent her son. Doc. 51 at 5. Defendant also argues
Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief. Id. at
Plaintiff's Claims on Behalf of M.
all courts of the United States the parties may plead and
conduct their own cases personally or by counsel as, by the
rules of such courts, respectively, are permitted to manage
and conduct causes therein.” 28 U.S.C. § 1654. The
website for the U.S. District Court of Arizona, to which the
Court directed Plaintiff, states the relevant local rule:
The right to appear pro se in a civil case in federal court
is contained in a statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1654. Thus,
anyone can appear pro se, and anyone who appears before the
Court without an attorney is considered pro se. There are,
however, certain limitations to self-representation, such as:
. . . A non-attorney parent may not appear pro se on behalf
of a child, except to appeal the denial of the child's
social security benefits.
Proceeding Without an Attorney, United States
District Court, District of Arizona (Oct. 2, 2018),
Under the rules in this district, Plaintiff may not appear on
M.'s behalf because she is not appealing a denial of
social security benefits. See Doc. 25.
a conference with the parties on May 3, 2018, the Court
directed Plaintiff to identify authority which permits her to
represent her son as a pro se litigant.Plaintiff's
response to Defendant's motion does not address 28 U.S.C.
§ 1654 or the local rule. See Doc. 57 at 13-17.
Rather, Plaintiff cites Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c)
and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Rule 17(c) lists which
“representatives may sue or defend on behalf of a minor
or an incompetent person.” It does not contradict 28
U.S.C. § 1654 or authorize Plaintiff to sue pro se on
behalf of her son. As the Ninth Circuit has noted, “a
non-attorney parent must be represented by counsel in
bringing an action on behalf of his or her child.”
Johns v. Cty. of San Diego, 114 F.3d 874, 876 (9th
Cir. 1997); see also Davis v. Walker, 745 F.3d 1003,
1310 (9th Cir. 2014) (“The purpose of Rule 17(c) is to
protect an incompetent person's interests in prosecuting
or defending a lawsuit.”); cf. C.E. Pop Equity
Trust v. United States, 818 F.2d 695, 697-98 (9th Cir.
1987) (“The Trusts' reliance on [Rule 17(a)] is
also misplaced. Rule 17(a) authorizes a trustee of an express
trust to sue on behalf of the trust, without joining persons
‘for whose benefit the action is brought;' the rule
does not warrant the conclusion that a nonlawyer can maintain
such a suit in propria persona.”). Plaintiff does not
explain how 42 U.S.C. § 1983 authorizes her pro se
representation of M. (Doc. 57 at 13), and nothing in the
statute addresses pro se representation. See 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
second amended complaint states she “brings this case
on behalf of her son, M., ” and cites Winkelman v.
Parma City Sch. Dist., 550 U.S. 516 (2007). Doc. 25 at
10 ¶2. Winkelman held that “[p]arents
enjoy rights under [the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.
(“IDEA”)]; and they are, as a result, entitled to
prosecute IDEA claims on their own behalf.”
Winkelman, 550 U.S. at 535. But granting a parent
the right to sue on her own behalf does not authorize her to
represent her child in court. The Supreme Court expressly
declined to reach the question of “whether IDEA
entitles parents to litigate their child's claims pro
is not licensed to practice law. She may not represent her
son in this case. The Court accordingly will dismiss all
claims Plaintiff asserts on M.'s behalf. See