United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
LOLITA J. ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
GREGORY BILLINS, PRINCIPAL, in his official and individual capacity; MICHAEL HOOTS, TEACHER, in his official and individual capacity; WILLIAM “BILL” OLDHAM, SHERIFF, in his official and individual capacity; IBRAHAM ABDUL, DEPUTY SCHOOL SECURITY OFFICER, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, in his official and individual capacity; BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE COUNTY OF SHELBY COUNTY SCHOOLS; DORSEY E. HOPSON, II, SUPERINTENDENT, in his official and individual capacity, Defendants.
H. MAYS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation (the “Report”), dated May 25,
2018. (ECF No. 7.) The Report recommends sua sponte
dismissal of Plaintiff Lolita J. Arnold's complaint under
28 U.S.C. § 1915. (Id. at 24.) Arnold has not
filed an objection, and the deadline to do so has passed. For
the following reasons, the Report is ADOPTED, and
Arnold's complaint is DISMISSED.
April 17 2018, Arnold filed a pro se complaint
against Defendants Gregory Billins, Principal; Michael Hoots,
Teacher; William “Bill” Oldham, Sheriff; Ibraham
Abdul, Deputy (school security officer, sheriff's
department); Board Of Education of the County of Shelby
County Schools; and Dorsey E. Hopson, II, Superintendent.
(Compl., ECF No. 1.) The complaint alleges that
Plaintiff's minor child was “sexual harass[ed]
and/or [had] an inappropriate relationship from an authority
figure who was an employee of the Shelby County Schools
System at . . . the time of the alleged incident and is now
an employee of the Shelby County Schools System.”
(Id. at 1.) Arnold seeks to bring claims on behalf
of her minor child under Title IX of the Education Amendments
Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq.
(“Title IX”) and “Tennessee Personal Tort
of Tennessee Code Annotated §
28-3-104.” (Id. ¶¶ 2, 5.)
complaint also alleges fraudulent concealment by the Shelby
County Board of Education (“School Board”), by
way of failure to act, after the School Board was put on
notice of the incident on or about April, 17, 2017, and after
the School Board informed Arnold it would conduct an
investigation. (Id. ¶¶ 11-13.) A
declaration by Earnest Lee Hayes is attached to the
complaint. (ECF No. 1-1.) Hayes claims to have
witnessed a sexual encounter between the minor child and an
unnamed Shelby County Schools employee. (Id.) The
complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages in the
amount of $5, 000, 000, and the costs of the action. (Compl.,
ECF No. 1.) It also seeks a preliminary injunction to prevent
Defendants from disposing of assets and destroying evidence.
25, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Diane K. Vescovo
entered the Report. (ECF No. 7.) It recommends that the Court
sua sponte dismiss Arnold's complaint under 28
U.S.C. § 1915 for lack of standing. (Id. at
24.) The Report explains that:
No pro se plaintiff may sign pleadings on behalf of another
plaintiff. Johns v. Cty. of San Diego, 114 F.3d 874,
876 (9th Cir. 1997) (“While a non-attorney may appear
pro se on his own behalf, ‘[h]e has no authority to
appear as an attorney for others than himself.'”);
Bonacci v. Kindt, 868 F.2d 1442, 1443 (5th Cir.
1989). “Similarly, parents cannot appear pro se on
behalf of their minor children because a minor's personal
cause of action is her own and does not belong to her parent
or representative.” [Shepherd v. Wellman, 313
F.3d 963, 970 (6th Cir. 2003)]; see Chochran v.
Nelson, No. 93-3521, 1994 WL 28648, at *3 (6th Cir. Feb.
1, 1994) (“Because Virgil Cochran is not an attorney,
he may not represent his son in federal court.”). The
Sixth Circuit considers this issue one of lack of standing.
Oliver v. Pogats, No. 91-1717, 1992 WL 76951, at *1
(6th Cir. Apr. 13, 1992).
Here, Arnold does not allege any facts indicating any of her
personal rights were violated; thus she is attempting to
bring a claim on behalf of her child. She does not claim to
be an attorney. As a non-attorney, she may appear pro se on
her own behalf, but she cannot appear as an attorney for her
child. Shepherd, 313 F.3d at 970. In addition,
although Arnold's child was a minor when the alleged
events occurred, Arnold states in her complaint that the
child's birthdate is September 25, 1998. (Compl. ¶
9, ECF No. 1.) The child was nineteen years old at the time
the complaint was filed, and under Tennessee law, competent
to bring suit on her own behalf. Tenn. Code Ann. §
1-3-113(a); see also Bender v. Metro. Nashville Bd. of
Educ., No. 13-0470, 2013 WL 3777197, at *3 (M.D. Tenn.
July 18, 2013). Thus, Arnold lacks standing to bring this
lawsuit, and it is therefore recommended that this complaint
be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
(Id. at 23-24 (internal footnotes omitted).)
enacted 28 U.S.C. § 636 to relieve the burden on the
federal judiciary by permitting the assignment of
district-court duties to magistrate judges. See United
States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2001)
(citing Gomez v. United States, 490 U.S. 858, 869-70
(1989)); see also Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed.Appx.
308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003). For dispositive matters,
“[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part
of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been
properly objected to.” See Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). After reviewing the
evidence, the court is free to accept, reject, or modify the
magistrate judge's proposed findings or recommendations.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court is not
required to review -- under a de novo or any other standard
-- those aspects of the report and recommendation to which no
objection is made. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150
(1985). The district court should adopt the magistrate
judge's findings and rulings to which no specific
objection is filed. Id. at 151.
has not objected to the Report. Adoption of the Report is
warranted. See Arn, 474 U.S. at 150-51.
foregoing reasons, the Report is ADOPTED, and Arnold's
complaint is DISMISSED.