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Lagervall v. Missoula County Public Schools

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division

August 22, 2017



          Jeremiah C. Lynch, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendants Missoula County Public Schools, Ted Fuller and Jennie Haines's Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 motion for summary judgment requesting this case be dismissed. Plaintiff Robert Lagervall did not file a response to Defendants' motion. For the reasons discussed, the Court recommends the motion be granted and this action be dismissed.

         I. Background

         At the time of the events alleged in Lagervall's complaint, his son, P.L., was a student at Sentinel High School in Missoula, Montana. Apparently, P.L. is an individual with disabilities.

         Sentinel High School is within the Missoula County Public Schools district. Ted Fuller is the principal at Sentinel, and Virginia Haines is the Special Education Coordinator at Sentinel.

         On November 4, 2015, an issue arose as to the Sentinel teachers' treatment and education of P.L., so Lagervall went to Sentinel to visit with school administrators, including Fuller, about the issue. The encounter escalated to some degree of confrontation due to, as Lagervall recognizes, his own disabling condition or conditions. As a result of the confrontation, Fuller decided Lagervall was no longer welcome on the premises as Sentinel. Fuller engaged Sentinel's resource officer, Officer Monaco, to prevent Lagervall from entering the premises, and to inform Lagervall, in writing, that he was not permitted on the premises.

         Lagervall commenced this action alleging Defendants violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Specifically, he contends Defendants violated regulatory provisions promulgated pursuant to the ADA at 28 C.F.R. § 35.130 (prohibiting discrimination), § 35.134 (prohibiting retaliation or coercion), and § 35.160 (requiring effective communications).

         II. Applicable Law - Summary Judgment Standards

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) entitles a party to summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all justifiable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Betz v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc., 504 F.3d 1017, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2007).

         The Court notes that Lagervall has not filed any brief in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and the time for doing so has passed. Nonetheless, the Ninth Circuit has made clear that a district court may not grant “summary judgment simply because a party fails to file an opposition or violates a local rule, ” and the court must “analyze the record to determine whether any disputed material fact [is] present.” Ahanchian v. Xenon Pictures, Inc., 624 F.3d 1253, 1258 (9th Cir. 2010). See also Martinez v. Stanford, 323 F.3d 1178, 1182 (9th Cir. 2003) (explaining that “a nonmoving party's failure to comply with local rules does not excuse the moving party's affirmative duty under Rule 56 to demonstrate its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law”).

         Finally, because Lagervall is proceeding pro se the Court must construe his documents liberally and give them “the benefit of any doubt” with respect to Defendants' summary judgment motion. Frost v. Symington, 197 F.3d 348, 352 (9th Cir. 1999). See also Erickson v. Pardus 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).


         While Lagervall's son, P.L., was a student at Sentinel High School, Lagervall engaged in a pattern of recurring conduct in his interactions with Sentinel staff members regarding either P.L.'s education or his conduct at Sentinel. At times, when staff would contact Lagervall by telephone to discuss issues about P.L., Lagervall would become agitated, upset and would terminate the phone conversation. (Doc. 25-1 at 2.) Typically, after a terminated phone call he would arrive at Sentinel “in an escalated, dysregulated state, demanding information, responses to questions, and disrupting school operations.” (Doc. 25-1 at 2.)

         The record reflects Lagervall engaged in various forms of other conduct at times while on the premises at Sentinel.[1] He would:

(1.) raise his voice when speaking with Sentinel employees, and yell at the employees;
(2.) raise his voice when speaking with Sentinel employees at meetings concerning P.L., disrupt those meetings, and walk out on some meetings because he was angry;
(3.) act aggressively towards, and intimidate Sentinel employees; and
(4.) hang up the phone in the middle of telephone conversations with ...

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