81 F.3d 1395 (5th Cir. 1996), 94-50709, Doe v. Hillsboro Independent School Dist.

Docket Nº94-50709.
Citation81 F.3d 1395
Party NameJOHN DOE, as Next Friend of Jane Doe, a Child, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. HILLSBORO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants, Larry Zabcik, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Case DateApril 23, 1996
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 1395

81 F.3d 1395 (5th Cir. 1996)

JOHN DOE, as Next Friend of Jane Doe, a Child, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

HILLSBORO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants,

Larry Zabcik, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 94-50709.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

April 23, 1996

Page 1396

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1397

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Order Granting Rehearing June 17, 1996.

Page 1398

Leonard J. Schwartz, Kelli H. Karczewski, Schwartz & Eichelbaum, Austin, TX, Robert G. Hogue, Touchstone, Bernays, Johnston, Beall & Smith, Dallas, TX, for appellants.

Gregory White, McGregor & White, Waco, TX, for appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before WIENER, EMILIO M. GARZA and BENAVIDES, Circuit Judges.

WIENER, Circuit Judge:

After his daughter was assaulted and raped by a Hillsboro (Texas) Middle School (School) custodian, Plaintiff-Appellee John Doe (Doe), on behalf of his minor child, Jane Doe (Jane), brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 1 against Defendants-Appellants Hillsboro Independent School District (District), as well as its board members, its supervisor, and the School's maintenance staff manager, individually. Doe alleged, inter alia, that the District and the individual defendants (School Officials) hired convicted criminals and then failed to supervise them adequately. These acts and omissions, concludes Doe, caused a deprivation of the constitutional rights of his minor daughter, Jane. The School Officials--but not the District--filed a motion 2 seeking dismissal for failure to state a claim and, in connection with the § 1983 claims, based on qualified immunity as well. The district court denied the motion. We dismiss in part; affirm in part; and reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

  1. INTRODUCTION

    Doe filed this lawsuit, as next friend of Jane, asserting § 1983 and Title IX claims against the District, 3 and only § 1983 claims against (1) the District's board members; 4 (2) Billy Sullins, its manager of the Transportation and Maintenance Department (Manager); and (3) Leon Murdoch, its Superintendent (Superintendent). In his First Amended Complaint, Doe alleged facts which, at this early stage in the litigation, we must accept as true. 5

    Page 1399

  2. THE FACTS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT

    At the time of the relevant events, Jane was 13 years old and a student at the School. In May 1993 at her teacher's behest, Jane remained after school for additional academic work. Jane perceived that she would benefit from this additional work and felt "compelled to stay after school pursuant to the actual or apparent (and perceived) authority of her instructors." Jane's after-school studies were interrupted by her teacher who asked Jane to go upstairs and retrieve some additional supplies.

    During this errand, a male custodian (Custodian) employed by the District, chased Jane into an empty classroom, locked the classroom door, and proceeded to assault and rape her. Jane did not disclose these events to anyone until Christmas, when her parents demanded that she explain her physical condition: Jane, it seems, was pregnant. The family went to the police who arrested the Custodian. Shortly after his arrest, the Custodian pleaded guilty to rape.

    Even though Texas law requires school districts to investigate the criminal record of each prospective employee, 6 the School Officials did not investigate the criminal histories of any of its prospective employees. 7 In 1993, the school year in question, at least one-third of the School's maintenance staff (Staff) had criminal records. The criminal records of the Staff included convictions for murder, armed robbery, unlawful weapons possession, multiple DWIs, drug offenses, failure to ID a fugitive, and cruelty to animals. The Custodian had a criminal record prior to pleading guilty to raping Jane, although the precise contents of his record were unknown at the time the complaint was drafted and filed.

    Additionally, during the 1993 school year, the School Officials received reports that members of the Staff had sexually abused students at the School. These reports included incidents of "fondling students, voyeurism, and the like." The School Officials neither verified nor investigated these reports; instead, the Staff was told to "stay away from the little white girls."

    In his complaint, Doe contends that both the inadequate hiring procedures and the failure to investigate reports of sexual abuse demonstrate the School Officials' deliberate indifference to Jane's constitutional rights. Doe concludes that, as a direct result of the School Officials' acts and omissions, Jane's constitutional right to bodily integrity was violated: The Custodian, an unsupervised criminal with the keys to the schoolhouse, had raped her.

  3. THE MOTIONS TO DISMISS

    The School Officials (but not the District) responded by filing motions, under Rule 12(b)(6), requesting the court to dismiss Jane's Title IX and § 1983 claims. The district court dismissed Doe's initial complaint without prejudice, but suggested that he refile his complaint to allege (if possible) that Jane's assailant had a criminal record. Following the court's suggestion, Doe amended his complaint to contain allegations that the Custodian had a criminal record, albeit the details of that record were not specified.

    The School Officials renewed their motions to dismiss all of Doe's claims. The district court denied the renewed motion to dismiss the § 1983 claim, stating that "the Court is persuaded Plaintiff has adequately stated a claim for relief." The court neither commented nor ruled on the Title IX claim. The

    Page 1400

    School Officials timely filed this interlocutory appeal.

    II

    DISCUSSION

  4. JURISDICTION

    Before addressing the pleadings complained of in this appeal, we examine the basis for our jurisdiction. 8 On appeal, the School Officials challenge two aspects of the district court's order: First, they insist that "this Court must dismiss the Title IX claims...." In like manner, they contend that the § 1983 claims against them should have been dismissed, based on qualified immunity. We conclude that we do not have jurisdiction to review any aspect of Jane's Title IX claim; however, we do have jurisdiction to review the "purely legal" aspects of Jane's § 1983 claim to the extent of the pleadings in Doe's complaints.

    1. Title IX Claim

    The district court does not appear to have ruled on the School Officials' motion to dismiss Jane's Title IX claim against them. The apparent reason for not ruling is that, despite the fact that Doe never asserted a Title IX claim against the School Officials, 9 they alone moved to dismiss "the Title IX claim against them." In response, the district court neither granted nor denied their motion--presumably, it simply ignored the Title IX motion. Believing erroneously that their motion to dismiss the putative Title IX claim against them had been denied, the School Officials appealed to us, insisting that the district court should have granted that motion. Even though the district court properly ignored his issue, we address it in the interest of clarity.

    As a general matter, we do not have interlocutory jurisdiction over denials of motions to dismiss: Such pretrial orders are not "final decisions" for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1291. 10 Even if we assume arguendo that the district court's failure to comment on the Title IX claim constituted a denial of the School Officials' motion, we would not have jurisdiction to review such non-final pretrial orders in the Title IX context.

    Additionally, even if we were to take the next step and assume further that we have interlocutory jurisdiction to review such an order in the Title IX context, we would still lack personal jurisdiction over the relevant party. The only party against whom Jane has asserted a claim under Title IX is the District, but the District is not a party to this appeal. Obviously we cannot dismiss a claim against a party who has not appealed. Thus, we hold that we lack appellate jurisdiction over both the Title IX issue and the District as the relevant party. In so doing, however, we neither express nor imply an opinion on the sufficiency of Doe's Title IX complaint against the District; we simply dismiss the

    Page 1401

    Title IX facet of this appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction and remand this particular claim for further proceedings.

    2. Section 1983 Claims

    Jane's § 1983 claims are another matter altogether. In Mitchell v. Forsyth, 11 the Supreme Court held that "a district court's denial of a claim of qualified immunity, to the extent that it turns on an issue of law, is an appealable 'final decision' within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291 notwithstanding the absence of a final judgment." 12 Recently, in Johnson v. Jones, 13 the Supreme Court made clear that our interlocutory jurisdiction under Mitchell begins and ends with the "purely legal" aspects of qualified immunity. 14 In Johnson, the Supreme Court reiterated the dichotomy in the grounds for denying a motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity: "(a) a determination about pre-existing 'clearly established' law, or (b) a determination about 'genuine' issues of fact for trial." 15 The Court then held that we have jurisdiction over the former, a purely-law-based denial of qualified immunity, but that we have no jurisdiction over the latter, a genuine-issue-of-fact-based denial of qualified immunity. 16

    Unlike Johnson, which was reviewed at the summary judgment-level, the instant case involves the complaint-level denial of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In the Rule 12(b)(6) context, there can never be a genuine-issue-of-fact-based denial of qualified immunity, as we must assume that the plaintiff's factual...

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248 practice notes
  • Druker v. Fortis Health, 010407 TXSDC, 5:06-cv-00052
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Southern District of Texas
    • January 4, 2007
    ...facts as true, "viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id . (citing Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist. , 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996)). A court should not dismiss a claim unless the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under "any set of facts o......
  • Lee v. Dallas County, 121620 TXNDC, C. A. 3:19-cv-2690-L
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • December 16, 2020
    ...relief can be granted. Mann v. Adams Realty Co., 556 F.2d 288, 293 (5th Cir. 1977); Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist., 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds, 113 F.3d 1412 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Accordingly, denial of a 12(b)(6) motion has ......
  • D.A. Schoggin, Inc. v. Arrow Electronics, Inc., 113020 TXNDC, C. A. 3:19-CV-02830-L
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • November 30, 2020
    ...relief can be granted. Mann v. Adams Realty Co., 556 F.2d 288, 293 (5th Cir. 1977); Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist., 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds, 113 F.3d 1412 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Accordingly, denial of a 12(b)(6) motion has ......
  • Galindo v. United States, 012921 TXNDC, C. A. 3:20-cv-00837-L
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • January 29, 2021
    ...relief can be granted. Mann v. Adams Realty Co., 556 F.2d 288, 293 (5th Cir. 1977); Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist., 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds, 113 F.3d 1412 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Accordingly, denial of a 12(b)(6) motion has ......
  • Free signup to view additional results
248 cases
  • Druker v. Fortis Health, 010407 TXSDC, 5:06-cv-00052
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Southern District of Texas
    • January 4, 2007
    ...facts as true, "viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id . (citing Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist. , 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996)). A court should not dismiss a claim unless the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under "any set of facts o......
  • Lee v. Dallas County, 121620 TXNDC, C. A. 3:19-cv-2690-L
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • December 16, 2020
    ...relief can be granted. Mann v. Adams Realty Co., 556 F.2d 288, 293 (5th Cir. 1977); Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist., 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds, 113 F.3d 1412 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Accordingly, denial of a 12(b)(6) motion has ......
  • D.A. Schoggin, Inc. v. Arrow Electronics, Inc., 113020 TXNDC, C. A. 3:19-CV-02830-L
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • November 30, 2020
    ...relief can be granted. Mann v. Adams Realty Co., 556 F.2d 288, 293 (5th Cir. 1977); Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist., 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds, 113 F.3d 1412 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Accordingly, denial of a 12(b)(6) motion has ......
  • Galindo v. United States, 012921 TXNDC, C. A. 3:20-cv-00837-L
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Northern District of Texas
    • January 29, 2021
    ...relief can be granted. Mann v. Adams Realty Co., 556 F.2d 288, 293 (5th Cir. 1977); Doe v. Hillsboro Indep. Sch. Dist., 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds, 113 F.3d 1412 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc). Accordingly, denial of a 12(b)(6) motion has ......
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