Doe v. Patrick

Decision Date03 February 2020
Docket Number1:17-CV-846 (LEK/DJS)
Parties John DOE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Steven PATRICK, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of New York

Matthew J. Kelly, Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP, Albany, NY, for Plaintiffs.

Malcolm B. O'Hara, John D. Wright, Bartlett, Pontiff Law Firm, Glens Falls, NY, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, III, Scott P. Quesnel, Girvin, Ferlazzo Law Firm, Albany, NY, for Defendants.


Lawrence E. Kahn, Senior U.S. District Judge


James Doe and his parents, John Doe and Jane Doe,1 bring suit against defendants Greenwich Central School District (the "District"), Steven Patrick, the District's former high school track coach, and David Wever, a bus driver employed by the District.2 Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint"). Plaintiffs bring suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" Section 1983"), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. ("Title IX"), and New York law, alleging that Defendants violated James Doe's constitutional and statutory rights and committed various torts against him during a bus trip to a high school track meet on January 27, 2017 and the trip's aftermath. See Compl.

Presently before the Court are two separate summary judgment motions, one from Patrick and Wever (together, the "Individual Defendants"), Dkt. Nos. 77 ("Individual Defendants’ SJ Motion"); 79 ("Individual Defendants’ Statement of Material Facts" or "Ind. Defs.’ SMF"), the other from the District, Dkt. Nos. 80 ("District SJ Motion"); 80-1 ("District Statement of Material Facts" or "District SMF"). Plaintiffs oppose both motions. Dkt. Nos. 84 ("Response to District SMF" and "Plaintiffs’ Additional SMF"); 84-1 ("Opposition to District's SJ Motion"); 85-2 ("Opposition to Individual Defendants’ SJ Motion"). The Individual Defendants and the District filed replies. Dkt. Nos. 88 ("Individual Defendants’ Reply"); 90 ("District Reply"); 90-1 ("Response to Pls.’ Additional SMF"). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants’ motions with regard to Plaintiffs’ federal causes of action and declines to exercise jurisdiction over their state law causes of action.

A. Factual Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. The Court provides more detail as necessary in its analysis.

During the 2016–17 school year, James Doe was a senior at Greenwich Junior-Senior High School (the "High School"), a school operated by the District. Ind. Defs.’ SMF ¶ 1; District SMF ¶ 1. In January 2017, James Doe was 17 years old. Ind. Defs.’ SMF ¶ 2; District SMF ¶ 2.

During most of his four years of high school, James Doe was a member of the cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams. Id. ¶ 3. In January 2017, James Doe was participating in his senior-year indoor track season. Ind. Defs.’ SMF ¶ 4. The head coach of the indoor track team was defendant Steven Patrick, who had coached the District's indoor and outdoor track teams for about 26 years. District SMF ¶¶ 8, 12.

1. The Events of January 27, 2017

On January 27, 2017, the District's indoor track team traveled on a District school bus to Utica College, in Utica, New York, to participate in a track meet. District SMF ¶ 4. James Doe had attended indoor track events at Utica College on three prior occasions throughout his junior and senior years of high school. Id. ¶¶ 5, 18. Utica College is about two hours and forty-five minutes from the high school by bus, id. ¶ 13, and on each of the three previous trips the bus had stopped for a bathroom break, id. ¶ 157.

On January 27, 2017, defendant David Wever was driving the bus. Ind. Defs.’ SMF ¶ 4. Wever had never driven the track team to Utica College before. Dkt. No. 82-6 ("James Doe Deposition") at 26. The bus was equipped with audio and video recording equipment, including one camera located in the front and one in the middle of the bus. Id. ¶ 5; District SMF ¶ 14. The entire bus trip to Utica was thus captured on video. Dkt. Nos. 80-6 ("Tyler Affidavit"); 80-19 to -21 (together "Video"). Patrick sat in the front of the bus while, for most of the trip, James Doe sat near the middle. See Video.

The bus set out around 1:10 PM. James Doe used the bathroom at the High School before the bus left. James Doe Depo. at 32.

Sometime before 2:29 PM, a fourteen-year-old member of the girls’ track team, B.W., asked if the bus could stop for a bathroom break.3 District SMF ¶¶ 26, 153, 155. In response, Patrick asked if she could wait until the bus reached St. Johnsville, New York, a town the bus would pass through prior to entering the New York Thruway (the "Thruway"). Id. ¶ 26, However, the bus never stopped in St. Johnsville, entering the Thruway around 3:08 PM. Id. ¶¶ 21, 27. Shortly thereafter, Patrick asked B.W. if she could "hold on for 32 more minutes." Id. ¶ 156.

Between Exit 29A, where the bus entered the Thruway, and Exit 31, where the bus exited, there is one rest area: the Schuyler Rest Area. Id. ¶¶ 21, 23. At around 3:14 PM, Patrick and Wever had a conversation in which they decided not to stop at the Schuyler Rest Area, because, according to the GPS, they were only 27 minutes from Utica College. Pls.’ Additional SMF ¶ 5–7; Resp. to Pls.’ Additional SMF ¶ 5. At about 3:24 PM, when the bus was two miles from the Schuyler Rest Area, James Doe asked from the back of the bus, "Coach, can we use the bathroom, please?" District SMF ¶ 30. Patrick responded, "Can you hang on for 15 more minutes?" Id. ¶ 31. In reply, James Doe said, "No, I really have to go. I can't hold it for 15 more minutes." Additional SMF ¶ 8. However, the parties dispute whether Patrick was able to hear James Doe's reply.4 Resp. to Pls.’ Additional SMF ¶ 8; Ind. Defs.’ SMF ¶ 8; Resp. to Ind. Defs.’ SMF ¶ 8.

A few minutes later, the bus passed the Schuyler Rest Area. Patrick waved toward the rest area as the bus went by and, noticing that a bus from the Hoosick Valley Central School District was parked at the rest area, commented "aha, Hoosick Valley." District SMF ¶ 32; Pls.’ Additional SMF ¶ 11. Wever then commented, "I guess the Hoosick Valley kids couldn't make it past the bathroom." District SMF ¶ 33. Shortly thereafter, Patrick commented "you know what your mother says whenever you take a long trip: use the bathroom and don't wear underwear with holes in it." Id. ¶ 34.

At 3:35 PM, the bus exited the Thruway. Id. ¶ 35. About a minute later, James Doe got out of his seat and walked to the front of the bus, where Patrick was sitting. Id. ¶ 36. As James Doe walked forward on the bus, Patrick said, "You gotta hold it for three more minutes. We'll be there in three more minutes, maybe four." Id. ¶ 37.

Upon hearing this, James Doe turned around and walked back to his seat. Id.

At 3:40 PM, James Doe approached Patrick again and told him that he needed to use the bathroom. Id. ¶ 40. Patrick held up a full water bottle and suggested to James Doe that he not drink any more. Video at 2:42:40. James Doe then returned to his seat. District SMF ¶ 41. During this time, the bus was traveling on an arterial road with a small shoulder and no place to stop for a restroom. Ind. Defs.’ SMF ¶ 16. Then, a minute or so later, James Doe walked to the front of the bus again and asked Patrick what would happen if he urinated in a bottle. Pls.’ Additional SMF ¶ 21. In response, Patrick told James Doe that he would get in "big trouble" for doing so. Id. ¶ 22. The following exchange ensued:

James Doe: I think I actually have to go in a bottle.
Patrick: No, don't do it. Just make yourself [unintelligible] 1.5 miles.
James Doe: It really hurts.
Patrick: Cross your legs. Just cross your legs.
James Doe: I've been doing that since, like, half an hour ago.
Patrick: You've gotta get your mind off it. You're gonna have to hold it.
James Doe: I can't.
Patrick: Yes, you can. You can do it.
James Doe: It hurts so much.
Patrick: You can do it. You can hold it.
James Doe: I would run to Utica right now.
Patrick: You can hold it.
James Doe: I can't.
Patrick: Yes, you can. You gotta be tough. You gotta think about something else. Just hang on. Look, here's the sign for Utica College. 1.2 miles.

Video at 2:44:59–2:45:35. James Doe remained in the seat behind Patrick for the remainder of the trip. District SMF ¶ 43.

Shortly thereafter, at 3:45 PM, James Doe and Patrick had the following exchange:

James Doe: Coach, I don't know if I can hold it any longer. I'm serious.
Patrick: Just hold it. Just hold it. We're gonna go left and right then be there.
James Doe: I can't! [Unintelligible].
Patrick: You can do it. You can hold it. You can do it.
James Doe: I can't. No. It's coming out.
Patrick: Yes, you can do this. No, you can do this. Just hold it. You can do it. No. You can hold it. No. No. You gotta be mentally tough.
James Doe: Coach, it came out.
Patrick: Hang on. Just hang on.
James Doe: It came out.
Patrick: Just hang on. Just hang on.
James Doe: Yeah, it came out. It literally came out.
Patrick: Right here. Utica College. This is it. You were right here.
James Doe: Coach, I peed.
Patrick: We'll have to bring a diaper next time.
James Doe: Yeah. It's on the ground, Coach. I told you I needed to stop.

Video at 2:46:42–2:47:35; see also District SMF ¶ 45. About thirty seconds later, the bus entered the Utica College campus, ultimately reaching its destination at the campus parking area about ten minutes later. Id. ¶ 46; Video at 2:47–2:57:30.

Upon arrival at Utica College, all the students exited the bus. Pls.’ Additional SMF ¶ 35. Patrick examined James Doe's seat and said, "He really did pee all over the floor." Id. As he exited the bus, he said, "I can't believe he couldn't hold that," and laughed. Id. ¶ 36.

James Doe had no known medical difficulties with urination and had not told the District in the past that he had any concerns regarding urination. District SMF ¶ 127.

After urinating on the bus, James Doe began texting his parents, John and Jane Doe, asking them to buy him new running shorts on their way to Utica College. I...

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