Williford v. Scrivner

Filing 23

ORDER GRANTING 10 Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND, signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 6/19/2015. Amended Complaint due within 30 days. (Hall, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 RICHARD WILLIFORD, Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 14 ZACK SCRIVNER, Defendant. 15 16 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: 1:15-cv-00653 - KJM - JLT ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 10) Defendant Zack Scrivner seeks dismissal the complaint filed by Richard Williford pursuant to 17 18 Rule 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 10.) Because Plaintiff 19 fails to allege facts sufficient for the Court to determine that it has jurisdiction in this matter and 20 Plaintiff fails to identify a claim or state facts sufficient for the Court to determine he has suffered 21 harm, Defendant’s motion to dismiss is GRANTED. 22 I. Factual and Procedural History In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendant “intruded into the operations of Mountain 23 24 Meadows Community Services District” by removing a seated Board Member of the District and 25 appointing a new Board Member. (Id. at 1-2.) According to Plaintiff, this has action has caused the 26 “District financial harm without cause,” by affecting “employees (sic) wages, taxes, insurances and its 27 obligations to long term contracts, debts, and every day operating costs.” (Id. at 2.) 28 /// 1 1 II. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) 2 A. 3 The district court is a court of limited jurisdiction, and is empowered only to hear disputes 4 “authorized by Constitution and statute.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 5 (1994); Exxon Mobil Corp v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005). The federal courts are 6 “presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case, unless the contrary affirmatively appears.” A-Z Int’l. 7 v. Phillips, 323 F.3d 1141, 1145 (9th Cir. 2003). Thus, a plaintiff is required to demonstrate the Court 8 has subject matter jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377 (citing McNutt v. General Motors 9 Acceptance Corp, 298 U.S. 178, 182-83 (1936)); Vacek v. United States Postal Serv., 447 F.3d 1248, 10 11 Legal Standard 1250 (9th Cir. 2006). Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may challenge a 12 claim for relief for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) “may 13 either attack the allegations of the complaint or may be made as a ‘speaking motion’ attacking the 14 existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact.” Thornhill Pub. Co., Inc. v. Gen. Tel. & Electronics 15 Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979) (citing Land v. Dollar, 330 U.S. 731, 735 (1947)). Thus, “[a] 16 jurisdictional challenge under Rule 12(b)(1) may be made either on the face of the pleadings or by 17 presenting extrinsic evidence.” Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc., 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 18 2003) (citing White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000)). The Ninth Circuit explained: 19 20 In a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations contained in a complaint are insufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction. By contrast, in a factual attack, the challenger disputes the truth of the allegations that, by themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction. 21 22 Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2004). 23 B. Discussion and Analysis 24 Where, as here, a defendant presents a facial challenge to the Court’s jurisdiction (Doc. 10 at 2- 25 3), the Court must presume the truth of the Plaintiff’s factual allegations “and draw all reasonable 26 inferences in his favor.” Doe v. Holy, 557 F.3d 1066, 1073 (9th Cir. 2009); Savage v. Glendale Union 27 High Sch. Dist. No. 205, 343 F.3d 1036, 1039 n.1 (9th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1009 (2004). 28 The Court should not “assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of 2 1 factual allegations.” W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). 2 Significantly, Plaintiff does not identify the claim(s) upon which he seeks to proceed in his 3 complaint. (See Doc. 1.) From the face of the compliant, it appears Plaintiff believes that Scrivner 4 exercised an “abuse of power” by removing a Board Member of the Mountain Meadows Community 5 Services District. In Plaintiff’s “motion for summary judgment,” he asserts “this case pertains to civil 6 rights being violated by Defendant.” (Doc. 9 at 1.) However, Plaintiff fails to identify what civil rights 7 he believes were violated or, even, whether he claims those rights belonged to him. Because the 8 allegations of the complaint do not demonstrate the basis for this Court’s jurisdiction, Defendant’s 9 motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) is GRANTED. 10 III. Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) 11 A. 12 A Rule 12(b)(6) motion “tests the legal sufficiency of a claim.” Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 13 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate when “the complaint lacks a 14 cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory.” Mendiondo v. 15 Centinela Hosp. Med. Ctr., 521 F.3d 1097, 1104 (9th Cir. 2008). Thus, under Rule 12(b)(6), “review is 16 limited to the complaint alone.” Cervantes v. City of San Diego, 5 F.3d 1273, 1274 (9th Cir. 1993). 17 Legal Standard “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as 18 true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) 19 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The Supreme Court explained, 20 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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement,” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant=s liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.’” 21 22 23 24 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citations, quotation marks omitted). Further, allegations of a 25 complaint must be accepted as true when the Court considers a motion to dismiss. Hospital Bldg. Co. 26 v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976). 27 28 A court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in favor of the plaintiff. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). “The issue is not 3 1 whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to officer evidence to 2 support the claims. Indeed it may appear on the face of the pleadings that a recovery is very remote 3 and unlikely but that is not the test.” Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). Therefore, the 4 Court “will dismiss any claim that, even when construed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, fails to 5 plead sufficiently all required elements of a cause of action.” Student Loan Marketing Assoc. v. 6 Hanes, 181 F.R.D. 629, 634 (S.D. Cal. 1998). 7 B. 8 As noted above, Plaintiff fails to identify any causes of action his complaint, and the facts 9 Failure to state a claim alleged are insufficient for the Court to determine the claim(s) upon which Plaintiff seeks to proceed. 10 Although Plaintiff asserts Scrivner’s actions “cause[d] financial harm to MMCSD” (Doc.1 at 2), he 11 fails to allege facts that support a determination that Plaintiff has suffered any injury, or explain how 12 Defendant violated his civil rights. Without such allegations, Plaintiff fails to give Defendant fair 13 notice of his claims. See, e.g., Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72 (1976) (to proceed on a claim for 14 civil rights violations, a plaintiff must allege a specific injury was suffered, and show causal 15 relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the injury suffered). Consequently, Defendant’s 16 motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is GRANTED. 17 C. Standing 18 The Supreme Court explained: “[T]o satisfy Article III's standing requirements, a plaintiff must 19 show (1)[he] has suffered an ‘injury in fact’ that is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or 20 imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of 21 the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by 22 a favorable decision.” Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs., Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180–81 23 (2000). The burden of establishing standing falls upon the plaintiff. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 24 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992); see also Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 167 (1997) (“each element of 25 Article III standing must be supported in the same way as any other matter on which the plaintiff bears 26 the burden of proof, i.e., with the manner and degree of evidence required at the successive stages of 27 the litigation”). The Ninth Circuit explained the causation element is not satisfied when an “injury 28 caused by a third party is too tenuously connected to the acts of the defendant.” Citizens for Better 4 1 Forestry v. U.S. Dept. of Agric., 341 F.3d 961, 975 (9th Cir.2003). Here, though it appears that Plaintiff feels the District has been treated improperly by Scrivner, 2 3 he fails to allege sufficient facts that he has suffered injury. There is no showing that Scrivner’s 4 actions that were directed at the District equates to an injury suffered by Plaintiff such that he may 5 bring suit. Thus, Plaintiff’s failure to demonstrate standing is fatal to this action and Defendant’s 6 motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is GRANTED. 7 IV. Conclusion and Order 8 Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden to demonstrate the Court has subject matter jurisdiction 9 over his claim, to allege facts sufficient to provide the defendant with fair notice of the claims against 10 him or to demonstrate he has standing. See Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. 11 Because it is not “absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured,” Plaintiff 12 will be given leave to amend his complaint. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448-49 (9th Cir. 13 1987). The amended complaint must reference the docket number of assigned to this case and must be 14 15 labeled “First Amended Complaint.” Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the 16 original complaint. Forsyth v. Humana, Inc., 114 F.3d 1467, 1474 (9th Cir. 1997); King v. Atiyeh, 814 17 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987). The amended complaint must be “complete in itself without reference 18 to the prior or superseded pleading.” Local Rule 220, emphasis added. Thus, once Plaintiff files an 19 amended complaint, Plaintiff’s original complaint will not serve any function in the case. 20 Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED: 21 1. Defendant’s motion to dismiss (Doc. 10) is GRANTED; 22 2. Plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend; and 23 3. Plaintiff SHALL file his First Amended Complaint within thirty days of the date of service of this order. 24 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 5 1 2 Failure to comply with this order will result in a recommendation that the matter be dismissed. 3 4 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 19, 2015 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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