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Irving v. Pui Tak Center

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 22, 2013

HAROLD IRVING et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
PUI TAK CENTER et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES B. ZAGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, Harold Irving (father to Zaria and Jeremiah), Cara Irving (mother to Zaria and Jeremiah), Zaria Irving, and Jeremiah Irving (collectively "Plaintiffs"), brought this action alleging federal civil rights violations and state law tort claims against Defendants Pui Tak Center ("Center"), Pui Tak Christian School ("School"), Chinese Christian Union Church ("Church"), David Wu, Sylvia Wu, and June Gin (collectively "Defendants").[1] Currently before me are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Counts I and II, both brought under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for failure to state claims on which relief can be granted, and Chinese Christian Union Church's Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, V and VI, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For the following reasons, the motions are denied.

I. Motion to Dismiss Counts I & II

Background

Plaintiffs are African-American citizens of the United States and residents of the State of Illinois. Defendants are Illinois Not-for-Profit organizations that serve a predominantly Chinese immigrant population and operate a private, Christian, pre-primary and elementary school. Zaria and Jeremiah were enrolled as students at the School during the 2010-2011 school year. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants subjected Zaria and Jeremiah to intentional racial discrimination during this period, at the same time that they received federal financial assistance, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Defendants brought this Motion to Dismiss asserting that Plaintiffs' Complaint fails to adequately state claims on which relief can be granted. Specifically, Defendants contend that there is not a nexus between the federal financial assistance that Defendants receive and the grammar school program that would require the School to comply with Title VI, and that Plaintiffs' Complaint fails to meet the Twombly/Iqbal standard.

Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss challenges the sufficiency of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion does not need detailed factual allegations, it must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim that is plausible on its face. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "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." Ashcroft 556 U.S. at 678.

When analyzing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, I accept all well-pled facts as true, and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Autry v. Nw. Premium Services, Inc., 144 F.3d 1037, 1039 (7th Cir. 1998).

Analysis

Title VI states, "[n]o person in the United States shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." 42 U.S.C. §2000d. Title VI invokes Congress' power under the Spending Clause to place conditions on the grant of federal funds. See Barnes v. Gorman, 536 U.S. 181, 185-86 (2002).

To state a claim under Title VI a plaintiff must allege two elements. First, plaintiffs must allege that they have been intentionally discriminated against on the grounds of race. See Hodges by Hodges v. Public Bldg. Com'n of Chicago, 864 F.Supp. 1493, 1501 (N.D. Ill. 1994). Second, a complaint must allege that defendants are recipients of federal financial assistance. Id. Historically, Title VI applied "[o]nly to... specific programs that received federal funds." Id.; see also Grove City College v. Bell, 104 S.Ct. 1211 (1984). Today, however, "program or activity" has a broader scope, codified under 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-4a, and includes "all of the operations" of the institution that conducted the program or activity. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-3(A)(ii).

A. Intentional Discrimination

Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' "conclusory allegations of intentional racial animus fail the Iqbal [facial plausibility] test." Motion to Dismiss at §11. Defendants claims that Plaintiffs "juxtapose the fact that they are African-American with the fact that the School has its roots deep in the Chinese-American community, take what happened to Zaria and Jeremiah, and then brush on a paper mche of alleged racial discrimination." Id. Defendants further claim that the Plaintiffs' Complaint "does not make it more plausible ...


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