Bruzzone v. Intel Corporation et al

Filing 116

ORDER re 115 MOTION for Referral to Standing Committee on Professional Conduct filed by Michael A. Bruzzone. Signed by Judge Hamilton on 12/17/2015. (pjhlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/17/2015) (Additional attachment(s) added on 12/17/2015: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (jebS, COURT STAFF).

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 MICHAEL A. BRUZZONE, 9 10 v. ORDER INTEL CORPORATION, et al., Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 14-cv-1279-WHA Plaintiff, 8 12 13 14 Before the court is plaintiff Michael A. Bruzzone’s motion, directed to the 15 undersigned as Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of 16 California, seeking an order appointing “special counsel” and initiating “review,” through 17 the court’s Standing Committee on Professional Conduct, of the conduct of the district 18 judge assigned to the above-entitled action – the Hon. William H. Alsup – and counsel for 19 defendant Intel Corporation. Plaintiff also requests that Judge Alsup recuse himself from 20 the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455, and that the case be reassigned to another judge 21 of this court. 22 This case was filed on March 19, 2014 (Doc. 1). On May 21, 2014, the court 23 issued an order striking the complaint, with leave to amend (Doc. 51). Briefly, the basis 24 for striking the complaint was that the court had previously dismissed a False Claims qui 25 tam action filed by plaintiff as the relator, in which the United States had declined to 26 intervene, and in which plaintiff was improperly seeking to proceed pro se; and that the 27 allegations in the present case were substantially similar, and the complaint, which 28 purported to assert antitrust and RICO violations (among others), as well as claims of 1 fraud and negligence, was replete with references to plaintiff as “the relator.” 2 The amended complaint – from which plaintiff was directed to remove any 3 references to “relator,” “qui tam,” or the False Claims Act, or any suggestion that he was 4 acting on behalf of the United States – was due on June 4, 2014. Plaintiff did not file an 5 amended complaint. Instead, on June 4, 2014, he filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 6 § 144, seeking recusal of Judge Alsup (Doc. 54), which motion was referred to another 7 judge of this court, who denied it on June 17, 2014 (Doc. 58). 8 On June 17, 2014, Judge Alsup issued an order to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of an operative complaint (Doc. 59). On June 27, 2014, 10 plaintiff filed a response to the order to show cause, in which he asserted that the original 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 complaint should not have been stricken and that amendment was “unnecessary” (Doc. 12 71). Also on June 27, 2014, defendant Intel Corporation filed a motion seeking an order 13 declaring plaintiff a vexatious litigant (Doc. 61). 14 On June 28, 2014, Judge Alsup issued an order dismissing the action (Doc. 72). 15 Judgment was entered on that same date (Doc. 73). On July 1, 2014, plaintiff filed a 16 notice of appeal with the Federal Circuit as to the order striking the complaint (Doc. 51), 17 the order denying the recusal motion (Doc. 58), and the order to show cause re dismissal 18 (Doc. 59). However, plaintiff did not appeal the final judgment. 19 On August 14, 2014, after the motion to declare plaintiff a vexatious litigant was 20 fully briefed, Judge Alsup held a hearing and granted the motion on the record (Doc. 85). 21 Plaintiff did not appear at the hearing. On August 19, 2014, Judge Alsup issued a written 22 order granting the motion to declare plaintiff a vexatious litigant (Doc. 88). 23 On August 28, 2014, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the order 24 granting the vexatious litigant motion (Doc. 92). On September 2, 2014, Judge 25 Alsup denied reconsideration (Doc. 94). On October 17, 2014, the Federal Circuit issued 26 an order transferring plaintiff’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit (Doc. 95). On November 20, 27 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued an order dismissing the appeal for failure to pay the filing 28 fees (Doc. 98). 2 1 On August 18, 2015, nearly a year after Judge Alsup had denied the motion for 2 reconsideration, and almost 14 months after entry of final judgment, plaintiff filed a 3 second motion for reconsideration of the vexatious litigant order, combined with a request 4 under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) to vacate the judgment (Doc. 102). On 5 August 24, 2015, Judge Alsup issued an order denying the motion (Doc. 103), with a 6 follow-up order issued on September 1, 2015 (Doc. 104). 7 On September 8, 2015, plaintiff a motion under Rule 60(b) (Doc. 105), again 8 seeking reconsideration of the vexatious litigant order, and also seeking reconsideration 9 of the order striking the complaint and the order denying the first motion for reconsideration. On September 22 and October 13, 2015, Judge Alsup again denied 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 reconsideration (Docs. 106, 107). On November 16, 2015, plaintiff filed a motion that 12 Judge Alsup disqualify himself pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) and § 455(b) (Doc. 109). 13 The motion was denied on November 30, 2015 (Doc. 114). 14 On December 15, 2015, plaintiff filed the present motion, alleging violations of Civil 15 Local Rule 11-4, and seeking relief under Civil Local Rule 11-6. Specifically, plaintiff 16 seeks appointment of a “special counsel” and referral to the court’s Standing Committee 17 on Professional Conduct, for review of certain “acts of defendant [sic] attorneys and 18 Judge William Alsup.” 19 Local Rule 11 relates to standards applicable to attorneys who practice before this 20 court; it does not apply to judges of this court. As for Intel’s attorneys, plaintiff has 21 provided no facts sufficient to give the undersigned “cause to believe that an attorney has 22 engaged in unprofessional conduct.” Civ. L.R. 11-6(a). Apart from plaintiff’s evident and 23 continuing disagreement with the orders that have issued in this case, his primary 24 complaint at this point appears to be that both Intel’s attorneys and Judge Alsup have 25 referred to him as “not a relator.” 26 The Ninth Circuit has repeatedly held that pro se plaintiffs are prohibiting from 27 pursuing claims on behalf of others, and specifically may not prosecute False Claims qui 28 tam actions on behalf of the United States unless they are represented by licensed 3 1 counsel. See, e.g., Simon v. Hartford Life, Inc., 546 F.3d 661, 664-65 (9th Cir. 2008) 2 (citing United States of America ex rel. Mergent Servs. v. Flaherty, 540 F.3d 89, 90 (2nd 3 Cir. 2008)); see also Stoner v. Santa Clara Cnty. Office of Educ., 502 F.3d 1116, 1127 4 (9th Cir. 2007) (“The FCA itself does not authorize a relator to prosecute a § 3729 5 violation pro se.”). Thus, as a pro se party, plaintiff cannot pursue a False Claims action 6 as a “relator” on behalf of the United States. 7 Accordingly, the motion for referral to the Standing Committee is DENIED. 8 Further, the court will not entertain any motions for reconsideration of this order. The 9 court leaves to Judge Alsup the question whether he should recuse himself or request 10 reassignment of the case to another judge of this court. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 Dated: December 17, 2015 14 15 __________________________________ PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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