United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
ROSELLA JONES, as Guardian and next friend of her minor son, I.J., Plaintiff,
CHEROKEE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION and JEFFERY LANE CRANE, Defendants.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil action filed by the Plaintiff, Rosella Jones, as
guardian and next friend of her minor son, I.J.,
against the Defendants, the Cherokee County Board of
Education (the “Board”) and Jeffrey Lane
Crane. Originally filed in the Circuit Court of
Cherokee County, Alabama, the action was removed to this
Court on July 19, 2017. (Doc. 1). Against the Board, the
First Amended Complaint sets out the following Alabama state
law claims: “Premise[s] Liability” (Count One);
“Failure To Train” (Count Four); and
“Negligence” (Count Five). Against Crane, the
first Amended Complaint sets out the following Alabama state
law claims: “Assault” (Count Two), and
“Battery” (Count Three). Finally, the First
Amended Complaint alleges that the Board “is liable to
the Plaintiff . . . pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”
case comes before the Court on the Board's Motion To
Dismiss filed pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 4). For the reasons
stated herein, the Motion will be GRANTED as
to Count Six, the Section 1983 claim. That claim will be
DISMISSED, and this case will be
REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Cherokee
Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for
the dismissal of an action where the court finds that it does
not have subject matter jurisdiction. Rule 12 (b)(6) provides
for dismissal for failure of a party to state a claim for
which relief can be granted. Where “a Rule 12 (b)(1)
motion is filed in conjunction with other Rule 12 motions,
the court should consider the Rule 12 (b)(1) jurisdiction
attack before addressing any attack on the merits.”
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th
Cir. 2001) (citing Hitt v. City of Pasadena, 561
F.2d 606, 608 (5th Cir. 1977).
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
should be granted “only if it appears certain that the
plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his
claim that would entitle plaintiff to relief.”
Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161. Lack of subject matter
jurisdiction may be found through an examination of: (1) the
complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed
facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's
resolution of disputed facts. See id. The burden of
proof on a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction is on the party asserting jurisdiction. Here,
that party is the Board, as it removed this action from state
court. See Evans v. Walter Indus., Inc., 449 F.3d
1159, 1164 (11th Cir. 2006) (noting “the traditional
rule that the party seeking to remove the case to federal
court bears the burden of establishing federal
Failure To State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be
court determines that subject matter jurisdiction exists, it
must then address the Rule 12 (b)(6) motion.
Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161 (citing Hitt, 561
F.2d at 608). Pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6), a district court
cannot dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted “unless it appears beyond
doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support
of his claim which would entitle him to relief.”
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99,
102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); Blackburn v. City of
Marshal, 42 F.3d 925, 931 (5th Cir. 1995). The court
will not look beyond the factual allegations in the complaint
to determine whether relief should be granted. See Spivey
v. Robertson, 197 F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir. 1999);
Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996).
In assessing a claim, a court must accept all well-pleaded
facts in the complaint as true and liberally construe all
factual allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Spivey, 197 F.3d at 774; Lowrey
v. Tex. A & M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247 (5th
Cir. 1997). “However, ‘[i]n order to avoid
dismissal for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff must
plead specific facts, not mere conclusory
allegations.'” Guidry v. Bank of LaPlace,
954 F.2d 278, 281 (5th Cir. 1992) (quoting Elliott v.
Foufas, 867 F.2d 877, 881 (5th Cir. 1989)) (alteration
“complaint must contain either direct allegations on
every material point necessary to sustain a recovery or
contain allegations from which an inference fairly may be
drawn that evidence on these material points will be
introduced at trial.” Campbell v. City of San
Antonio, 43 F.3d 973, 975 (5th Cir. 1995). A plaintiff
“is merely required to provide, in his complaint, a
‘short and plain statement of the claim that will give
the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim
is and the grounds on which it rests.'” Lewis
v. Fed. Reserve Bank of Atlanta-New Orleans Branch, No.
Civ.A. 04-1452, 2004 WL 2035006, at *3 (E.D. La. Sept. 10,
2004) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47, 78 S.Ct. at
103). Still, a complaint must allege sufficient facts for an
inference to be drawn that the elements of the claim exist.
Walker v. South Cent. Bell Tel. Co., 904 F.2d 275,
277 (5th Cir. 1990).
ALLEGATIONS IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
First Amended Complaint sets out the following allegations:
7. On October 12th, 2016, Plaintiff Jones's minor son
I.J. (“I.J.”) was a student at Cedar Bluff High
School, located in Cedar Bluff, Alabama.
8. On October 12th, 2016, I.J. was a member of the Cedar
Bluff High School football team.
9. On October 12th, 2016, while a member of Cedar Bluff High
School football team, I.J. was participating in mandatory
practices for the football team on the football practice
field at Cedar Bluff High School.
10. On October 12th, 2016, Defendant Crane was present on the
campus of Cedar Bluff High School at the same time at which
I.J. was present and participating in school activities at
all times relevant.
11. On October 12th, 2016, I.J. and Defendant Crane's
stepson, who was also a member of Cedar Bluff High
School's football team engaged in “after the
whistle” behavior common in football practices in the
12. Defendant Crane was present with the full knowledge [of]
agents and/or employees of the Defendant Board, namely
assistant football coaches of Cedar Bluff High School who, at
all time relevant were employees and/or agents of the
13. Defendant Crane, at the time of, or shortly after the
afore-described “after the whistle” behavior,
entered onto the practice field at Cedar Bluff High School on
October 12th, 2016 where I.J. and other minor students under
the care and control of agents and/or employees of the
Defendant Board were present.
14. Upon entering the football field at Cedar Bluff High
School on October 12th, 2016, Defendant Crane confronted the
minor child I.J.; and assaulted and battered the minor I.J.
15. No agent and/or employee of the Defendant Board attempted
to stop or arrest Defendant Crane's behavior.
16. Defendant Crane completed his assault and battery upon
the minor I.J; and left the practice field at Cedar Bluff
High School, yet was allowed to remain at Cedar Bluff High
School for the duration of football practice.
17. Plaintiff Jones did not learn of the assault by Defendant
Crane upon the person of I.J. until later on the night of
October 12th, 2016 ...