United States District Court, D. Delaware
C. Herr, LAW OFFICE OF DANIEL C. HERR LLC, Wilmington, DE
Attorney for Plaintiff.
D. Taylor, Jr., Gerard M. Clodomir, SAUL EWING LLP,
Wilmington, DE Attorneys for Defendants Delaware State
University and Sonja Jackson-McCoy.
U.S. District Judge
before the Court are Defendants' partial motions to
dismiss filed in response to Plaintiffs Complaint and First
Amended Complaint. (D.I. 7, 10) Defendants' first motion
(D.I. 7) will be denied as moot. Their second motion seeks
dismissal of Counts I and II of Plaintiffs Amended Complaint
for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. (D.I. 10) For the following reasons, the Court will
grant Defendants' partial motion to dismiss Plaintiffs
amended complaint (D.I. 10).
August of 2015, Plaintiff Trey Anderson ("Plaintiff) met
with Sonj a Jackson-McCoy ("McCoy"), the Senior
Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services at Delaware
State University ("DSU"), to discuss DSU's
Masters in Sports Administration and Graduate Assistant
Program (the "Program"). (D.I. 9 at ¶ 7) McCoy
extended an offer of enrollment to Plaintiff in the one-year,
four-semester Program, which includes a fall, spring, and two
summer semesters. (D.I. 9 at ¶¶ 10-11) McCoy also
offered Plaintiff financial aid from DSU to cover Plaintiffs
tuition, housing, and incidental expenses like textbooks for
the duration of the Program. (D.I. 9 at ¶ 8)
Additionally, McCoy offered Plaintiff employment as a
Graduate Assistant within DSU Academic Services for the
duration of the Program. (D.I. 9 at ¶ 9) Plaintiff
accepted McCoy's offer, moved to Delaware, and began
studying and working as a Graduate Assistant in the fall
semester of 2015. (D.I.9 at ¶13)
the spring semester of 2016, DSU informed Plaintiff that it
would not be paying for Plaintiff s summer 2016 tuition and
textbook expenses (the "Financial Aid"). (D.I. 9 at
¶ 15) Plaintiff remained enrolled in the Program, but
DSU did not pay the Financial Aid. (D.I. 9 ¶ 18) At no
point did DSU provide Plaintiff a hearing or other
"legitimate opportunity'' to oppose its
'. revocation of Financial Aid. (D.I. 9 at
¶ 19) OnMarch22, 2015, McCoy terminated Plaintiff from
his position as a Graduate Assistant at DSU. (D.I. 9 at
¶ 30) Plaintiff received no notice of, explanation for,
or opportunity to oppose his termination. (D.I. 9 at ¶
23, 2016, Plaintiff filed this suit against DSU and McCoy
(collectively, "Defendants"). (D.I. 1) Defendants
filed their first partial motion to dismiss on September 9,
2016. (D.I. 7) In response, Plaintiff timely filed a First
Amended Complaint (the "Amended Complaint") on
September 13, 2016. (D.I. 9; see Fed.R. Civ. P.
15(a)(1)(B) (permitting party to "amend its pleading
once as a matter of course within ... 21 days after service
of a motion under Rule 12(b)")) Count I of Plaintiff s
Amended Complaint alleges that McCoy, in her individual and
official capacities, violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by
causing DSU to discontinue Plaintiffs Financial Aid without
due process. (D.I. 9 at ¶¶ 33-42) Count II alleges
that McCoy, in her individual capacity only, violated 42
U.S.C. § 1983 by terminating Plaintiffs employment with
DSU as a Graduate Assistant without due process. (D.I. 9 at
¶¶ 44-47) Defendants moved to dismiss both counts.
a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material
allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis,
372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not
whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a
motion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and
viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna,
Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
"[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff
must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the
speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in
the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)."'
Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir.
2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). At bottom, "[t]he complaint
must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation
that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary
element" of a plaintiff s claim. Wilkerson v. New
Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d
Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Court is not obligated to accept as true "bald
assertions, " Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist.,
132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks
omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted
inferences, " Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pa.
Power & Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997),
or allegations that are "self-evidently false, "
Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir. 1996).
alleges that McCoy, and, at her direction, DSU, deprived
Plaintiff of two protected property interests - Plaintiffs
continued receipt of Financial Aid and continued ...