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Mabey v. Ray

United States District Court, D. Utah, Southern Division

February 4, 2019






         The District Court referred this matter on September 20, 2018 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). (ECF No. 5.) Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9) as well as Plaintiffs' Motion to Sever and Remand. (ECF No. 10.) The Court heard oral argument on the Motion to Dismiss on January 28, 2019. (ECF No. 23.) Stephen Mabey appeared pro se on behalf of Plaintiffs Stephen and Tatyana Mabey, and Michael J. Teter, Assistant Utah Attorney General, appeared on behalf of Defendants Superintendent Sam Ray and North Sanpete School District (“Defendants”).

         The Court, having carefully considered the parties' memoranda and arguments, and for the reasons set forth below, DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion to Sever and Remand. The Court further RECOMMENDS that the District Court GRANT Defendants' Motion to Dismiss in part, but DENY the motion as to Plaintiffs' equal protection claim against North Sanpete School District.


         Utah law requires a school district to provide free public transportation to any elementary school student who lives at least one-and-a-half miles from the school. Utah Code § 53F-2-403(1)(a). State law also provides that, “[a] student is responsible for the student's own transportation to bus stops up to one and one-half miles from home.” Utah Admin. Code R277-600-6(6)(a). State regulations further require that, “a bus route shall: (a) traverse the most direct public route; (b) be reasonably cost-effective in comparison to other feasible alternatives; (c) provide adequate safety for students; (d) traverse roads that are constructed and maintained in a manner that does not cause property damage; and (e) include an economically appropriate number of students.” Utah Admin. Code R277-600-6(3).

         Plaintiffs qualify for bus transportation for their child to attend Spring City Elementary. The North Sanpete School District established a bus stop six-tenths of a mile from Plaintiffs' home. Based on concerns about having their child walk alone to the bus stop, Plaintiffs presented to the North Sanpete School District Board at a public meeting and requested that the School District instead establish the bus stop at Plaintiffs' home. As an accommodation during Mrs. Mabey's pregnancy, the School Board did that for the 2017-2018 school year. In the fall of 2018, Plaintiffs again appeared before the School Board and requested a permanent change to the bus route so that the stop for their son would be in front of their house. By a vote of 3-2, the Board denied the request.

         Plaintiffs have withheld their child from school and filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Superintendent Ray and the North Sanpete School District, alleging that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' rights under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process and equal protection clauses. Plaintiffs also asserted claims that Defendants violated Utah Code § 53F-2-403(1)(a) and Utah Admin. Code R277-600-6(3), as well as breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.


         Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In reviewing a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court assumes the truth of well-pleaded facts and draws reasonable inference in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Leverington v. City of Colo. Springs, 643 F.3d 719, 723 (10th Cir. 2011). But a claim survives if “there is plausibility in the complaint.” Hall v. Witteman, 584 F.3d 859, 863 (10th Cir. 2009) (citations and quotations omitted).

         “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Threadbare recitals of elements, facts “merely consistent” with liability, “labels and conclusions, ” or “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation[s]” are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Leverington, 643 F.3d at 723 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)); Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1184-85 (10th Cir. 2010) (citations and quotations omitted); Hall, 584 F.3d at 863 (citations and quotations omitted).

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court may rely on the facts as alleged in the complaint, but may also rely on all documents adopted by reference in the complaint, documents attached to the complaint, or facts that may be judicially noticed. SeeFed. R. Civ. P. 10(c); Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322-23 (2007); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1112 (10th Cir. 1991).


         1. Motion to Sever and Remand

         Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in the Sixth Judicial District of Utah. (ECF No. 4-1.) The Complaint states five causes of action. On the face, each cause of action states a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, though later pleadings suggest that Plaintiffs only intended two of the claims to arise under the U.S. Constitution. ...

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