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Oskowis v. Arizona Department of Education

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 9, 2018

Matthew Oskowis, Plaintiff,
Arizona Department of Education, et al., Defendants.


          Honorable John J. Tuchi, United States District Judge.

         At issue is Defendants the Arizona Department of Education (“ADE”), the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”), and Tammy L. Eigenheer's (collectively, the “State Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 14, Mot.), to which Plaintiff Matthew Oskowis filed a Response (Doc. 24, Resp.), and the State Defendants filed a Reply (Doc. 26, Reply). No. party requested oral argument, and the Court finds the Motion appropriate for resolution without such argument. See LRCiv 7.2(f). Accordingly, the Court will grant the Motion and dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the State Defendants.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is the father of a 13-year-old boy, E.O., who attends the West Sedona School in the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District #9 (the “District”). In 2006, E.O was diagnosed with classical infantile autism.

         On May 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed a due process complaint, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), with the ADE alleging that the District failed to deliver E.O. a free and appropriate public education (“FAPE”) by incorrectly implementing E.O.'s August 2013 individual education plan (“IEP”). Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff filed two additional complaints, and the ADE consolidated the three matters to be heard by Eigenheer, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) with the OAH. Eigenheer held a preliminary prehearing conference on June 15, 2016, and later issued a briefing schedule for the matter, which was to conclude with the filing of Plaintiff's reply brief on August 1, 2016. Eigenheer's Order extended the due date for her decision in the matter until September 2, 2016. This date, however, passed without Eigenheer issuing any ruling. Over the next year, both Plaintiff and the District filed a series of requests for a ruling by Eigenheer and for a status conference, each of which went without a response. On September 21, 2017, Eigenheer issued her final ruling in the matter.

         Two days later, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit individually and on behalf of E.O. In the Complaint, Plaintiff brings suit against the State Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the IDEA and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         Plaintiff's prayer for relief encompasses all forms, including compensatory, injunctive, and declaratory relief. In particular, Plaintiff requests that this Court “[a]ssume jurisdiction over” his administrative complaint and “issue an order . . . granting relief requested” in that complaint. (Compl. at 18.) Further, Plaintiff seeks injunctions to: (1) temporarily enjoin Eigenheer from acting as an ALJ in any future matter filed by Plaintiff and (2) permanently enjoin the State Defendants from issuing decisions beyond those deadlines imposed by federal regulation. (Compl. at 18-19.) Next, Plaintiff requests that the Court issue orders to show cause to the State Defendants so that they might demonstrate why they purportedly exceeded the decision deadlines mandated by federal regulation. (Compl. at 19.) And, finally, Plaintiff seeks both a declaration that the State Defendants violated his civil rights and punitive and compensatory damages totaling $140, 000. (Compl. at 19-20.)

         The State Defendants now move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).[1]


         “A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may attack either the allegations of the complaint as insufficient to confer upon the court subject matter jurisdiction, or the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact.” Renteria v. United States, 452 F.Supp.2d 910, 919 (D. Ariz. 2006) (citing Thornhill Publ'g Co. v. Gen. Tel. & Elecs. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979)). “Where the jurisdictional issue is separable from the merits of the case, the [court] may consider the evidence presented with respect to the jurisdictional issue and rule on that issue, resolving factual disputes if necessary.” Thornhill, 594 F.2d at 733; see also Autery v. United States, 424 F.3d 944, 956 (9th Cir. 2005) (“With a 12(b)(1) motion, a court may weigh the evidence to determine whether it has jurisdiction.”). The burden of proof is on the party asserting jurisdiction to show that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. See Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990).

         When analyzing a complaint for failure to state a claim for relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the well-pled factual allegations are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 680 (2009), and therefore are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. In re Cutera Sec. Litig., 610 F.3d 1103, 1108 (9th Cir. 2010).

         III. ANALYSIS

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges a single cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, Plaintiff's bases this cause of action on the denial of separate and distinct federal rights, which are derived both from the Constitution and federal statutes. The Court first addresses Plaintiff's statutory basis for his § 1983 claim before moving to his constitutional basis.

         A. Plaintiff's ...

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