United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. Spinney, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.
Runkles-Pearson, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP, Of
Attorneys for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.
Brainard (“Plaintiff”) brings this lawsuit
seeking money damages against Western Oregon University
(“the University”), alleging violations of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that the University
deprived him of liberty and property interests without due
process of law. Plaintiff originally filed his Complaint in
Polk County Circuit Court. The University timely removed the
action to this Court on the basis of federal question
jurisdiction. Before the Court is the University's Motion
to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the University's
Motion to Dismiss is granted, and Plaintiff's request for
leave to amend is also granted.
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim may be granted
only when there is no cognizable legal theory to support the
claim or when the complaint lacks sufficient factual
allegations to state a facially plausible claim for relief.
Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622
F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010). In evaluating the
sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations, the
court must accept as true all well-pleaded material facts
alleged in the complaint and construe them in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Wilson v.
Hewlett-Packard Co., 668 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir.
2012); Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n,
629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). To be entitled to a
presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint “may
not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must
contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give
fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself
effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202,
1216 (9th Cir. 2011). All reasonable inferences from the
factual allegations must be drawn in favor of the plaintiff.
Newcal Indus. v. Ikon Office Solution, 513 F.3d
1038, 1043 n.2 (9th Cir. 2008). The court need not, however,
credit the plaintiff's legal conclusions that are couched
as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678-79 (2009).
complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to
“plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that
it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be
subjected to the expense of discovery and continued
litigation.” Starr, 652 F.3d at 1216. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
was a student at the University. Id. at ¶ 2.
Plaintiff and student Emily Cantrell had a child together out
of wedlock. Id. at ¶ 11. On October 13, 2016,
the University sent Plaintiff a “no-contact order,
” which prohibited him from having any further contact
with Ms. Cantrell. Id. at ¶ 13. On October 25,
2016, the University sent Plaintiff a notice informing him
that a hearing had been scheduled with the University Student
Conduct Hearing Committee following allegations that
Plaintiff had violated the no-contact order and engaged in
stalking Ms. Cantrell. Id. at ¶¶ 15-16. On
the same day, Plaintiff also received an “Interim
Sanction Notice, ” which prohibited him from entering
or remaining on the University's campus. Id. at
November 1, 2016, a hearing was held and Plaintiff appeared
and testified. Id. at ¶ 17. Ms. Cantrell did
not appear or testify at the hearing. Id. After the
hearing, the Committee upheld the allegations against
Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 18. The Committee also
imposed sanctions, including an indefinite no contact order
and deferred suspension. Id. at ¶ 19. Both
Plaintiff and Ms. Cantrell appealed the decision.
Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. On November 17, 2016,
without a further hearing, the Vice President of Student
Affairs determined both appeals and modified the sanctions
against Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 22. The sanctions
ultimately imposed suspended Plaintiff from the University
for three years and continued his no-contact order with Ms.
asserts that he has a liberty interest in his good name,
reputation, honor, and integrity, and a property interest in
his continued attendance at the University. Id. at
¶¶ 23-24. Plaintiff alleges that the University
deprived him of these interests without due process of law.
Id. at ¶ 25. Plaintiff's Complaint against
the University solely alleges claims under Section 1983.
University makes two arguments. First, the University argues
that it has sovereign immunity. Second, the University states
that it is not a “person” within the meaning of
Section 1983. Plaintiff responds that the University has
waived its sovereign immunity by removing this lawsuit from
state court. Plaintiff also responds that the University is
not an “arm of the State” and thus is a proper
defendant under Section 1983. In the alternative, Plaintiff
requests leave to amend his Complaint to request injunctive
relief and add additional claims under state law.