A federal judge has paused proceedings in a second lawsuit against school districts that canceled field trips following Oak Glen apple farm co-owner James Riley’s social media posts that some called “offensive” and “misogynistic.”

In July 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal struck down Riley’s first lawsuit against Claremont Unified School District, but Riley appealed.

The second lawsuit was filed Aug. 27, 2020, against officials at Azusa, Bonita, Burbank, Corona-Norco, Culver City, Monrovia, Rialto, San Bernardino City and Walnut Valley unified districts.

In the second lawsuit, Riley claimed the defendants violated his rights by canceling field trips to Riley’s Farm in “retaliation” to his First Amendment-protected speech. He also claimed that the defendants “conspired and agreed together to inflict injury” by not only canceling their trips, but encouraging others to do the same. He claims the defendants “participated in a scheme to deprive Plaintiffs of a public benefit” without due process, as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, according to the suit.

On Jan. 27, 2021, Bernal noted that the “nearly identical” Claremont case is now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It would be inefficient for this Court to determine whether qualified immunity bars Plaintiffs’ claims while the Ninth Circuit considers the same question,” Bernal wrote in his order on the second lawsuit.

Bernal stayed consideration of the damages portions of First Amendment claims. He also dismissed the claim regarding conspiracy, but noted “pleading deficiencies … may be cured by amendment.” The claim regarding due process was dismissed without an option to amend.



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