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Gupta v. Oklahoma City Public Schools

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

February 22, 2019

GUPTA, BHAGWAN, D., Plaintiff,


          Charles B. Goodwin United States District Judge

         Now before the Court is Defendant's Partial Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 7), in which Defendant asserts that certain claims asserted in Plaintiff's pro se Complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff has responded in opposition (Doc. No. 9), and Defendant has replied (Doc. No. 10). Based on the case record, the parties' arguments, and the governing law, Defendant's Motion is granted.

         Summary of the Pleadings

         Plaintiff Bhagwan Gupta (“Mr. Gupta”) was employed by Defendant Oklahoma City Public Schools (the “District”)[1] as a substitute teacher for the 2015-16 school year. The District terminated his employment on October 8, 2015. Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 2. Mr. Gupta subsequently applied and was selected for a substitute teaching position with the District for the 2016-17 school year. Id. at 5. After attending training and working one day, Mr. Gupta was informed that he would not be permitted to substitute teach as a result of his alleged conduct during the 2015-16 school year. Id. at 5-6; Compl. Ex. 6 (Doc. No. 1-6).

         Mr. Gupta filed this action on April 9, 2018. Liberally construing the Complaint, Mr. Gupta attempts to assert the following claims against the District: (1) violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”); (2) violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”); (3) discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”); (4) retaliation in violation of Title VII; and (5) violation of his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.


         The District seeks dismissal of Mr. Gupta's constitutional claims, as well as his claims for discrimination under the ADA, ADEA, and Title VII.[2] See Def.'s Mot. at 4.

         A. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that “a pleading . . . contain a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). While “detailed factual allegations” are not required, a complaint must set forth enough facts that, accepted as true, “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief'” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         While pro se filings are liberally construed, pro se status does not relieve a litigant “of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). This is “because a pro se plaintiff requires no special legal training to recount the facts surrounding his alleged injury, and he must provide such facts if the court is to determine whether he makes out a claim on which relief can be granted.” Id.

         B. Constitutional Claims

         Mr. Gupta's constitutional claims are necessarily asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [3]which serves as the “remedial vehicle for raising claims based on the violation of constitutional rights.” Brown v. Buhman, 822 F.3d 1151, 1161 n.9 (10th Cir. 2016). To state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege that he has been deprived of a federal right by a person acting under the color of state law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         A school district is subject to § 1983 liability under the rubric established in Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New York,436 U.S. 658 (1978). See, e.g., Murrell v. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 186 F.3d 1238, 1249 (10th Cir. 1999). Under Monell, a government entity is not liable under § 1983 for injury “inflicted solely by its employees or agents.” Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. Rather, the plaintiff must show that the complained-of actions: (1) were “taken by an official with final policy making authority”; or (2) are “representative of an official policy or custom of the municipal institution.” Murrell, 186 F.3d at 1249; see Schneider v. City of Grand Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 769-70 (10th Cir. 2013) (“A challenged practice may be deemed an official policy or custom for § 1983 municipal-liability purposes if it is a formally promulgated policy, ...

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