Crane v. City of Dunsmuir et al

Filing 9

SECTION 1915 SCREENING OF COMPLAINT. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on 11/16/2020. (ahm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/16/2020)Any non-CM/ECF Participants have been served by First Class Mail to the addresses of record listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF)

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Case 3:20-cv-07010-JSC Document 9 Filed 11/16/20 Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 JODI L. CRANE, 8 Plaintiff, 9 SECTION 1915 SCREENING OF COMPLAINT v. 10 CITY OF DUNSMUIR, et al., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 20-cv-07010-JSC Defendants. 12 13 14 Plaintiff Jodi Crane brings this civil rights action against the City of Dunsmuir and various 15 city officials. (Dkt. No. 1.) Having granted Ms. Crane’s application to proceed in forma pauperis, 16 (see Dkt. No. 4), the Court now screens the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and concludes 17 that the complaint is deficient for the reasons stated below. COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS 18 The facts and allegations of the complaint are difficult to discern. It was prepared using 19 20 the form “Complaint for Violations of Civil Rights,” but it does not specify what rights Ms. Crane 21 alleges were violated by the City of Dunsmuir, City Manager Todd Juhasz, Fire Chief Daniel 22 Padilla, and Mayor Jiliana Lucchessi. Instead, under the section regarding which right(s) were 23 violated Ms. Crane alleges: “THE RIGHT TO RUN A BUISSNESS [sic] WITHOUT 24 CURRUPTION [sic], DEFLAMATION[sic] OR ABUSE FROM OFFICAILS<SLANDER [sic], 25 COWERSION [sic] BEETWEEN [sic] POWERS.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 3.1) Elsewhere, Ms. Crane 26 alleges: 27 28 Record Citations are to material in the Electronic Case File (“ECF”); pinpoint citations are to the ECF-generated page numbers at the top of the document. 1 Case 3:20-cv-07010-JSC Document 9 Filed 11/16/20 Page 2 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 (Id. at 4.) In the statement of facts, Ms. Crane alleges that her “CLOTHING STORE WAS 7 DEEMED A DANGER IN HOUR WITHOUT ANY BUILDING INSPECTION,” that her license 8 was “REVOKED,” and “HE REFUSED ME RENNEWL [sic] OF LICENSE BAN SENT 9 MONEY BACK.” (Id.) Ms. Crane also alleges that she was told she would be taken to jail if she entered her own building, that it was “ALL ILLEGALLY DONE NO PROCEDURE NO DUE 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 PROCESSKEEPING [sic] ME OUT OF LEASED PROPERTY.” Id. LEGAL STANDARD 12 13 The Court has a continuing duty to dismiss any case in which a party is proceeding in 14 forma pauperis upon a determination that the case is: (1) frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a 15 claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is 16 immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The standard of review under 28 U.S.C. § 17 1915(e)(2) mirrors that of Rule 12(b)(6). Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000). 18 Thus, the complaint must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its 19 face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A facial plausibility standard is not 20 a “probability requirement” but mandates “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted 21 unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations 22 omitted). To avoid dismissal, a complaint must contain more than “naked assertion[s],” “labels 23 and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 24 U.S. at 555-57. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that 25 allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct 26 alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. 27 When a plaintiff files a complaint without being represented by a lawyer, the court must 28 “construe the pleadings liberally . . . to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe v. 2 Case 3:20-cv-07010-JSC Document 9 Filed 11/16/20 Page 3 of 6 1 Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Upon 2 dismissal, self-represented plaintiffs proceeding in forma pauperis must be given leave “to amend 3 their complaint unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be 4 cured by amendment.” Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1228 n.9 (9th Cir. 1984) (internal 5 quotation marks and citation omitted). 6 DISCUSSION 7 There are three primary issues with Ms. Crane’s Complaint. First, the Court cannot 8 discern the nature of Ms. Crane’s claims from her complaint. Second, to the extent that she also 9 seeks to state claims on behalf of her business, JUSTINTIME, she cannot do so without counsel. 10 Finally, venue does not appear proper in this district. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 A. Failure to State A Claim 12 Ms. Crane appears to allege that the City of Dunsmuir and various city officials interfered 13 with her business. However, it is not clear what civil rights she alleges were violated and what 14 actions were taken which allegedly violated her civil rights. 15 To state a claim under § 1983, a complaint “must both (1) allege the deprivation of a right 16 secured by the federal Constitution or statutory law, and (2) allege that the deprivation was 17 committed by a person acting under color of state law.” Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1067 18 (9th Cir. 2006). To adequately plead these elements, the complaint must identify what 19 constitutional or other federal right each defendant violated, providing sufficient facts to plausibly 20 support each purported violation. See, e.g., Drawsand v. F.F. Props., L.L.P., 866 F. Supp. 2d 21 1110, 1121 (N.D. Cal. 2011) (“Aside from passing references to due process and equal protection, 22 the Complaint fails to allege how [plaintiffs’] constitutional rights were violated and fails to 23 identify each Defendant's role therein.”); Walsh v. Am. Med. Response, No. 2:13-cv-2077 MCE 24 KJN (PS), 2014 WL 2109946, at *7 (E.D. Cal. May 20, 2014) (“Before any claims may be found 25 to be cognizable, plaintiffs must separate each specific claim they wish to pursue, identify which 26 defendants relate to each particular claim, and identify the Constitutional right implicated by each 27 claim.”). 28 In addition, while municipalities are “persons” under Section 1983 and thus may be liable 3 Case 3:20-cv-07010-JSC Document 9 Filed 11/16/20 Page 4 of 6 1 for causing a constitutional deprivation, a municipality may not be sued under Section 1983 solely 2 because an injury was inflicted by its employees or agents. Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of the 3 City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91, 694 (1978). The entity is instead responsible only when 4 execution of a government’s policy or custom inflicts the injury. Id. To impose municipal 5 liability under Section 1983 for a violation of constitutional rights, a plaintiff must show: “(1) that 6 [s]he possessed a constitutional right of which [s]he was deprived; (2) that the municipality had a 7 policy; (3) that this policy ‘amounts to deliberate indifference’ to the plaintiff’s constitutional 8 right; and (4) that the policy is the ‘moving force behind the constitutional violation.’” Oviatt v. 9 Pearce, 954 F.2d 1470, 1474 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 389-91 (1989)). Ms. Crane’s conclusory allegations regarding her right to run her business, the City’s 12 revocation of her license, refusal to issue permits, and denial of “DUE PROCESS” is insufficient 13 to state a claim under Section 1983. 14 B. JUSTINTIME Cannot Proceed Without Counsel 15 In addition, it appears that Ms. Crane seeks to bring this action on her own behalf and on 16 behalf of her corporation JUSTINTIME; however, a corporation cannot proceed pro se (without an 17 attorney). See N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 3-9(b) (“A corporation, unincorporated association, partnership 18 or other such entity may appear only through a member of the bar of this Court.”); see also 19 Rowland v. California Men’s Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 202 (1993) 20 (“a corporation may appear in the federal courts only through licensed counsel”). Accordingly, 21 JUSTINTIME cannot proceed with this action without being represented by an attorney. 22 C. Venue 23 Finally, it does not appear that venue is proper in this district. “The district court of a 24 district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it 25 be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have 26 been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406. A district court may raise the issue of venue on its own motion. 27 Costlow v. Weeks, 790 F.2d 1486, 1488 (9th Cir. 1986) (affirming sua sponte dismissal for 28 improper venue). In general, venue is proper in: 4 Case 3:20-cv-07010-JSC Document 9 Filed 11/16/20 Page 5 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 (1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located; (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or (3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action. 7 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Here, all of the parties reside in Dunsmuir, California which is in Siskiyou 8 County in the Eastern District of California. Generally, where a case is filed in the wrong venue, 9 the district court has the discretion either to dismiss the case or transfer it to the proper federal 10 court “in the interest of justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). 11 United States District Court Northern District of California CONCLUSION 12 For the reasons set forth above, Ms. Crane’s complaint fails section 1915 review. Ms. 13 Crane may file an amended complaint within 30 days; her amended complaint must identify her 14 claims and include a plain statement of facts in support and shall allege facts which support venue 15 in this District. Further, to the extent that Ms. Crane seeks to bring an action on behalf of her 16 company JUSTINTIME she is reminded that a corporation cannot be represented by a non17 attorney and thus she will need to find an attorney to represent the corporation or proceed solely 18 on behalf of herself without an attorney. 19 If Ms. Crane does not respond to this Order or if Ms. Crane’s amended complaint fails to 20 state a claim or seeks to plead a claim on behalf of her business JUSTINTIME without an attorney 21 having made an appearance to represent the company, the Court may prepare a report and 22 recommendation recommending that a district judge dismiss her complaint. Likewise, if Ms. 23 Crane fails to plead facts which establish that venue is proper in this district the Court may issue a 24 report and recommendation that the action be dismissed or transferred to the Eastern District of 25 California because venue is not proper in the Northern District of California. 26 The Court encourages Ms. Crane to seek free assistance from the Northern District’s Legal 27 Help Center. Due to ongoing COVID concerns, Ms. Crane can make an appointment for a 28 5 Case 3:20-cv-07010-JSC Document 9 Filed 11/16/20 Page 6 of 6 1 telephone appointment by calling (415) 792-8982. 2 3 4 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: November 16, 2020 5 6 JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY United States Magistrate Judge 7 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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