United States District Court, D. Arizona
Murray Enow, Chief United States District Judge
before the Court is the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
of Defendants Richard and Rita Rodriguez. (Doc. 63). For the
following reasons the motion is denied.
purposes of this Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, the
Court takes all the allegations in Plaintiff Mackenzie
Brown's complaint as true. Nelson v. City of
Irvine, 143 F.3d 1196, 1200 (9th Cir. 1998).
Richard Rodriguez was, during the time relevant to this
lawsuit, the head football coach at the University of
Arizona. Rodriguez recruited Orlando Bradford-who is not a
party to this suit-to play football and Bradford enrolled at
the University and joined the team. Like all student
athletes, Bradford agreed to University codes of conduct,
which included punishments up to and including expulsion from
the University for certain actions. Additionally, Bradford
agreed to football team policies which, if broken, could
result in expulsion from the team. One such policy mandated
“zero tolerance” for acts of domestic violence
and required expulsion from the team for any such acts.
it is alleged that under Rodriguez, a set of “shadow
policies” was instituted for the football program.
These alleged policies effectively negated proper enforcement
of Title IX and other laws protecting students and employees
from domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment
in situations where enforcement of those laws would hinder
the football team's success on the field. The Complaint
alleges that Rodriguez thwarted those laws to increase his
pay because his contract with the University included
significant financial incentives for winning football games.
Rodriguez allegedly instituted these “shadow
policies” through written and unwritten means to the
staff and players.
a few months of beginning his university football career,
Bradford began a pattern of violent behavior. The University
was contacted by the mother of a female student-athlete who
had been dating Bradford. The mother reported that Bradford
had physically attacked her daughter on multiple occasions.
The victim filed a report with campus police, and the
Complaint alleges that University athletic department
personnel were present when the report was filed. The
Complaint alleges that the Defendants (including Rodriguez)
responded by arranging for alternative housing for
Bradford-he was moved from the campus dorm in which he was
living to a private residence off-campus, where he lived with
other members of the football team. The campus police report
against Bradford was dismissed and Bradford was informed that
no further action would be taken.
then assaulted a second female U of A student. The assaults
were allegedly witnessed by other members of the football
team at the house. Bradford allegedly bragged openly about
assaulting the woman-discussing it in team common areas
including the locker room. The Complaint alleges that his
actions were not kept secret from athletic department staff
and coaches. The second victim's mother also notified the
University. The Complaint alleges that Rodriguez was aware of
Bradford's history of attacks on female students yet
failed to discipline Bradford, failed to take any actions to
protect other students, and in fact, named Bradford to a
starting position on the football team.
subsequently attacked a third woman-Plaintiff Mackenzie
Brown-in his off-campus residence. Bradford later admitted to
“tortur[ing]” Ms. Brown, and allegedly bragged to
other teammates in the locker room about his attacks. The
assault was reported to Tucson police, who arrested Bradford.
After the media picked up the story, the University dismissed
Bradford from the football team under its “zero
tolerance” domestic violence policy.
Brown subsequently filed this action against the State of
Arizona, the Arizona Board of Regents, and Rodriguez. She
brings a Title IX claim, a negligence claim, and a claim of
intentional infliction of emotional distress against the
school, and an Equal Protection claim against Rodriguez under
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12 allows a party-once the pleadings
have closed-to move for judgment on the materials submitted.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Such a motion will be granted
“when, taking all the allegations in the pleadings as
true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Nelson, 143 F.3d at 1200. Conclusory
statements that merely recite the elements of a claim are
insufficient to survive a 12(c) motion. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see also
United States ex rel. Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys.,
Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011) (stating
that Iqbal applies to Rule 12(c) motions because
Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c) motions are “functionally
identical.”). Rather, to survive a Rule 12(c) motion, a
plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.