United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
the court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings, (Dkt. No. 16, ) and Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 17.) The court held a hearing on
the motions on May 1, 2018. Defendants were represented by
Rachel Terry and Dan Harper. Plaintiff was represented by
Jeremy Miller. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court
took the motions under advisement. Now being fully informed,
the court issues this Memorandum Decision and Order.
parties do not dispute the facts relevant to the motions.
Plaintiff operates a dog breeding business, Cradle of Love
Cavaliers, LLC. (Complaint at ¶ 15.) In May of 2016,
Plaintiff purchased Hazel Grace, a Cavalier King Charles
Spaniel, with the intention of training her as a service
animal to donate to a child with a psychiatric or
neurological disability. (Id. at ¶ 17.) During
the summer of 2016, Plaintiff employed her daughter, Shyler,
to be Hazel Grace's full-time handler and trainer.
(Id. at ¶ 19.) Shyler is not disabled.
August 24, 2016, Plaintiff sent an email to the principal of
Jordan High School, where Shyler was a student, informing him
that Shyler intended to bring Hazel Grace to school with her.
(Id. at ¶¶ 26-28.) Shyler attended school
with Hazel Grace for a few days until she was called into the
office on August 29, 2016. (Id. at ¶ 30.) She
was informed that Hazel Grace was not allowed at Jordan High
School, per District policy. (Id. at ¶¶
30-31.) The District then provided a letter to Plaintiff,
explaining the policy and its decision that Hazel Grace would
not be allowed in the classroom as a service animal in
training. (Id. at ¶¶ 35-36.)
September 7, 2016, Shyler again attempted to attend classes
at Jordan High School with Hazel Grace. (Id. at
¶ 38.) The school principal again informed Shyler that
Hazel Grace was not permitted in the classroom, and called
Plaintiff to come pick up her dog. (Id. at
¶¶ 38-39, 43.) That same day, counsel for Plaintiff
sent an email to the District, explaining Plaintiff's
position that Hazel Grace was a service dog in training and
should be permitted to attend classes with Shyler.
(Id. at ¶ 47.) The following day, on September
8, 2016, the District responded by letter, reaffirming its
position that Hazel Grace would not be permitted to attend
class with Shyler. (Id. at ¶ 48.)
requested additional review, and on September 13, 2016, a
3-person panel of Canyon School District employees and a
local businessman held a hearing to review the District's
determination. (Id. at ¶ 51.) On September 23,
2016, the panel issued a written decision affirming the
District's decision not to allow Hazel Grace to attend
school with Shyler. (Id. at ¶ 54, Exh. I.) The
panel reasoned that classrooms are not public facilities
within the meaning of Utah Code Section 62A-5b-103, and that
Hazel Grace did not meet the definition of a service dog
under Utah Code Section 62A-5b-102. (Id.)
November 4, 2016, a dog trainer submitted a letter to the
District on behalf of Plaintiff, again requesting that Hazel
Grace be permitted to attend class with Shyler. (Id.
at ¶¶ 60-62.) The District reaffirmed its previous
determination that Hazel Grace would not be allowed to attend
Jordan High School by letter on November 14, 2016.
(Id. at ¶ 63.)
filed this action in state court on November 22, 2016.
(See id.) Defendants filed their notice of removal
to this court on January 9, 2017. (Dkt. No. 2.) In her
Complaint, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that Hazel Grace is
a service animal under the ADA as defined by Utah Law (First
Cause of Action); an injunction allowing Hazel Grace to
accompany Shyler in all areas of Jordan High School (Second
Cause of Action); and injunctive relief and attorney's
fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Third Cause of
after filing the Complaint, Plaintiff moved outside the
boundaries of Jordan High School. (Dkt. No. 17-1, Exh. 8 at
¶ 53.) Shyler now attends Corner Canyon High School in
the Canyons School District. (Dkt. No. 17-1, Exh. 4 at ¶
4.) Hazel Grace has been retired as a service dog in
training. (Dkt. No. 17-1, Exh. 8 at ¶ 54.)
of the Pleadings
the court must determine whether Plaintiff's complaint
states facially plausible federal claims. See Kerber v.
Qwest Grp. Life Ins. Plan, 647 F.3d 950, 959 (10th Cir.
2011). “A motion for judgment on the pleadings under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) is treated as a motion to dismiss under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Mock v. T.G. & Y.
Stores Co., 971 F.2d 522, 528 (10th Cir. 1992).
Dismissal under this standard is appropriate “only when
it appears that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in
support of the claims that would entitle the plaintiff to
relief.” Id. (quoting Jacobs,
Visconsi & Jacobs Co. v. City of Lawrence, 927
F.2d 1111, 1115 (10th Cir.1991)). The court must accept all
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and
“construe them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Williams v. Meese, 926 F.2d 994,
997 (10th Cir.1991).
third cause of action alleges a violation of civil rights
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1983. In support of that theory,
Plaintiff alleges generally that “Defendants, by
excluding the training of Plaintiff's service animal in
Jordan High School deprives the Plaintiff her civil
rights.” (Compl. at ¶ 74.) Plaintiff does not
provide any information about what those civil rights might
be. The only factual allegation that could reasonably be
construed as an allegation in support of Plaintiff's
§1983 claim states: “Mr. Sherwood admitted that if
Hazel Grace were being trained as a sight dog, she would be
permitted without a problem, and that it has been done on
many occasions.” ...