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Lemon v. Labette Community College

United States District Court, District of Kansas

March 11, 2014

REBECCA A. LEMON, Plaintiff,


Sam A. Crow, U.S. District Senior Judge

This 42 USC § 1983 case comes before the Court on the motion of Defendants Labette Community College (LCC) and Delyna Bohnenblust to dismiss the sole remaining count against them[1] because it fails to state a viable claim for relief. Plaintiff contends that these defendants denied her due process property right by not admitting her as a transfer student into LCC’s RN program.

I. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must have facial plausibility.

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. [Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)) at 570. 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. at 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a Defendant has acted unlawfully. Id. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a Defendant's liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.’ “ Id. at 557.

Ashcroft v. Igbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868, 884 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. “[C]ourts should look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Alvarado v. KOB–TV, L.L.C., 493 F.3d 1210, 1215 n. 2 (10th Cir. 2007). “While the 12(b)(6) standard does not require that Plaintiff establish a prima facie case in [his] complaint, the elements of each alleged cause of action help to determine whether Plaintiff has set forth a plausible claim.” Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 2012 WL 364058, at *3 (10th Cir. Feb. 6, 2012).

“The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's ... complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1565 (10th Cir. 1991). The court accepts all well-pled factual allegations as true and views these allegations in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. United States v. Smith, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 558 U.S. 1148 (2010). The court, however, is not under a duty to accept legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. “Thus, mere ‘labels and conclusions' and ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action’ will not suffice.” Khalik, 2012 WL 364058, at *2 (10th Cir.Feb.6, 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court is limited to assessing the legal sufficiency of the allegations contained within the four corners of the complaint. Archuleta v. Wagner, 523 F.3d 1278, 1281 (10th Cir. 2008). But in considering the complaint in its entirety, the Court also examines any documents “incorporated into the complaint by reference, ” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322, 127 S.Ct. 2499, 168 L.Ed.2d 179 (2007), and documents attached to the complaint, Rosenfield v. HSBC Bank, USA, 681 F.3d 1172, 1189 (10th Cir. 2012) (quotations and citations omitted).

II. Undisputed Facts

Defendants have set out the relevant facts in their memorandum, and Plaintiff has not challenged them. Accordingly, for purposes of this motion, the Court finds the following facts to be uncontroverted.

Defendant LCC is a municipality or political subdivision governed by a board of trustees. Dr. Delyna Bohnenblust is Director of the LCC’s nursing program.

In October of 2011, plaintiff was accepted into Coffeyville Community College’s (CCC) nursing program. Plaintiff participated in that program during the spring and fall semesters of 2012. In December of 2012, she graduated from the licensed practical nursing (LPN) portion of the program with a 4.0 GPA in the core nursing courses and a 3.92 GPA overall. In January of 2013 she became certified as an LPN.

Plaintiff was told that she had been accepted into CCC’s RN program, but plaintiff chose, instead, to apply to the RN program at LCC because it was accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc., while CCC’s nursing program was not. In January of 2013, plaintiff began taking prerequisite courses at CCC to become a RN at LCC. Through January and February of 2013, plaintiff completed the paperwork for her application for admission into LCC’s RN program. Plaintiff received an “A” in her prerequisite classes.

On April 10, 2013, Defendant Bohnenblust advised plaintiff that she needed to have reference forms completed by her CCC clinical nursing instructors before she could be admitted into LCC’s nursing program. The blank reference forms consisted of two pages. The first page, entitled “Prospective Student Nurse Reference Form, ” required the applicant to sign a provision at the top stating: “I waive my right to view this reference form.” The form informed the individuals who would be ...

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