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In re Doe

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 18, 2018

In Re the Matter of John Doe, by and through his parents, James Doe and Jane Doe, Plaintiff,
v.
Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, [1] Defendant.

          Margaret O'Sullivan Kane, Esq., Kane Education Law, LLC, counsel for Plaintiff.

          Christian R. Shafer, Esq., and Timothy A. Sullivan, Esq., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, PA, counsel for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss, brought by Defendant St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists (“SPCPA”). (Doc. No. 66.) In addition, the Court considers Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint. (Doc. No. 81.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend and grants SPCPA's motion to dismiss.

         BACKGROUND

         The background of this case has been set forth in prior orders. The Court briefly summarizes the relevant facts. SPCPA is a public charter school. (Doc. No. 63 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶ 7.) At all relevant times, Plaintiff John Doe (“Plaintiff”), by and through his parents, James Doe and Jane Doe, was a student enrolled at SPCPA. (Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) SPCPA prohibits harassment or violence on the basis of sex and its policy imposes a 5-day suspension for a first offense. (Pl's Ex. 3 at 25, 29.)

         On October 9, 2017, SPCPA's dean informed Plaintiff that three female students complained that he had touched them inappropriately. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12; Pl's Ex. 8 (Notice of Suspension).) Plaintiff denied the allegations. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12.) The dean noted that Plaintiff eventually admitted to “touching multiple female students, ” while he denied other aspects of the students' allegations and said he was not aware his behavior had bothered them. (Pl's Ex. 7 (Dean Raleigh Notes).) That day, SPCPA informed Plaintiff and his parents that he would be suspended for three days. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.)

         Following his suspension, Plaintiff was the target of bullying on social media. (Id. ¶ 21.) One week later, on October 16, 2017, Plaintiff returned to school. (Id. ¶ 26.) He was “ostracized by his peers . . . because of the stigmatizing allegations.” (Id. ¶ 32.) On the morning of October 25, 2017, Plaintiff was confronted by protesters on his way into school. (Id. ¶ 33.) The next day, he stopped attending SPCPA. (Id. ¶ 35.)

         Plaintiff commenced this action on November 6, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.) He originally brought two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the denial of due process, and one invasion of privacy claim. On February 8, 2018, Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint, seeking to add (1) a Title IX claim alleging that he was denied due process because of his sex, and (2) a state common-law negligence claim. (Doc. No. 29.) Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel denied Plaintiff leave to bring the Title IX claim and granted Plaintiff leave to bring a negligence claim. (Doc. No. 58 (the “Magistrate Judge's Order”).) On June 25, 2018, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's original complaint with prejudice while noting that Plaintiff's negligence claim remained. (Doc. No. 61.)

         On July 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint, asserting a single count of negligence against SPCPA. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 55-58.) On July 27, 2018, Defendants filed the present motion to dismiss. And despite the Magistrate Judge's Order, on October 1, 2018, Plaintiff again sought leave to add a Title IX claim. (Doc. No. 81.)

         DISCUSSION

         I. Motion to Amend

         The Court has discretion to grant a plaintiff leave to amend a complaint and “should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). However, there is no absolute right to amend, and the Court may deny leave to amend where there is “undue delay, bad faith on the part of the moving party, futility of the amendment or unfair prejudice to the opposing party.” Sanders v. Clemco Indus., 823 F.2d 214, 216 (8th Cir. 1987). An amendment is considered futile if “the amended complaint could not withstand a motion to dismiss under ...


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