United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
LEONA WELLS, individually and as next friend of C.M.H, a minor, Plaintiff,
NATHAN AYERS, JEFF JOHNSON, ETOWAH MIDDLE SCHOOL, ATTALLA BOARD OF EDUCATION, DAVID BOWMAN, WYMAN CASH, GARY HUFF, PRESTON NIX, DEBORAH DIXON, and DUANE SMITH, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil action filed by the Plaintiff, Leona Wells, on her
own behalf, and “as Mother and Next Friend of C.M.H., a
Minor.” (Doc. 1 at 1). The Complaint names the
following Defendants: Nathan Ayers, the Assistant Principal
of Etowah Middle School; Jeff Johnson, the Principal of
Etowah Middle School; the Etowah Middle School; the Attalla
Board of Education (the “Board”); and David
Bowman, the Superintendent of Attalla City Schools. The
Complaint also names as Defendants the following members of
Attalla City Schools Board of Education: Wyman Cash, Gary
Huff, Preston Nix, Deborah Dixon, and Duane Smith. The
Complaint alleges that all of the Defendants are liable under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for “Violation of Substantive Due
Process Rights.” (Count One). Against Ayers alone, the
Complaint sets out claims under Alabama law for battery,
negligence, and wantonness. (Counts Two, Four, and Five
respectively). Against Johnson, Bowman, the Etowah Middle
School, and the Board, the Complaint sets out the Alabama
state law claim for negligent supervision and training.
(Count Three). Finally, the Complaint alleges that all of
the Defendants engaged in a conspiracy to commit battery.
(Count Six). All Counts arise out of a paddling which Ayers
administered to C.M.H.
case comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings (the “Motion”). (Doc.
20). For the reasons stated herein, the Motion will be
GRANTED in part and DENIED in
PLAINTIFF CONSENTS TO THE DISMISSAL OF ALL DEFENDANTS EXCEPT
AYERS AND JOHNSON, AND TO THE DISMISSAL OF COUNT THREE IN ITS
on the representations by the Plaintiff (doc. 21 at 1-2), all
Defendants except Ayers and Johnson will be dismissed. All
dismissals, except for Etowah Middle School, will be
without prejudice. Etowah Middle School will be
dismissed with prejudice. Furthermore, the Plaintiff
agrees that Count Three, the negligent supervision claim, is
due to be dismissed as well. (Doc. 21 at 9). That claim will
be dismissed with prejudice as to all Defendants
except the Board. (See doc. 21 at 9, n. 10). Count
Three will be dismissed without prejudice as to the
12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
“[a]fter the pleadings are closed--but early enough not
to delay trial--a party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The Eleventh Circuit
“Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where there
are no material facts in dispute and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” [Perez v.
Wells Fargo N.A., 774 F.3d 1329, 1335 (11th Cir. 2014)]
(quoting Cannon v. City of West Palm Beach, 250 F.3d
1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001)). We accept as true the material
facts alleged in the non-moving party's pleading and
construe them in the light most favorable to that party.
Id. Judgment on the pleadings should be denied
“[i]f a comparison of the averments in the competing
pleadings reveals a material dispute of fact.”
Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v. Kopp, 658 Fed.Appx.
564, 567 (11th Cir. 2016).
MATERIAL FACTS ALLEGED IN THE PLEADINGS
16. The Attalla Schools permits teachers to inflict corporal
punishment on their students.
17. The Attalla Schools ask for parents to sign documents
permitting the school to inflict corporal punishment.
18. One form of corporal punishment meted out at Attalla
Schools is paddling.
19. Before paddling a student, the student must have
previously received at least four written conduct notices
home for their parent to sign.
20. Wells moved to Attalla before the 2016-17 school year.
21. She enrolled two children, including C.M.H., as students
at Etowah Middle.
22. C.M.H. is an athletic child and an excellent student.
23. Wells signed documents which authorized Etowah Middle to
paddle C.M.H. provided that C.M.H. deserved paddling under
the school policies and the school provided Wells with notice
24. On Friday September 9, 2016, C.M.H. licked his fingers in
25. The teacher misinterpreted C.M.H.'s actions as an
26. C.M.H.-12 years old and unaware of any obscene
significance of his movements-denied doing anything wrong.
27. The teacher referred C.M.H. to Assistant Principal
Ayers's office for discipline.
28. Ayers decided to paddle C.M.H. despite the fact that it
was C.M.H.'s first time to be in trouble at Etowah Middle
and the offense involved was, at best, minor, at worst, a
29. Assistant Principal Ayers did not speak to either Wells
or Wells's husband before paddling C.M.H.
30. The paddling was witnessed by Principal Johnson.
31. Ayers hit C.M.H.
32. C.M.H. cried in pain.
33. Ayers waited sixty seconds and then hit C.M.H. again.
34. C.M.H. told his mother what happened when he got home.
35. Wells didn't understand why C.M.H. was punished for
such a seemingly ...