West v. Stackley

Filing 24

ORDER granting 19 Defendant's Motion to Dismiss; denying 22 Plaintiff's Motion for Conference; denying 23 Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal; Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE AND WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND; signed by Judge Ronald B. Leighton.(DN)

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HONORABLE RONALD B. LEIGHTON 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 7 8 CASE NO. C17-5366RBL JOE ANN WEST, 9 Plaintiff, 10 ORDER v. 11 SEAN J STACKLEY, Secretary of the Department of the Navy, 12 Defendant. 13 14 15 16 17 THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Stackley’s Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. #19], and on Plaintiff West’s Motions for a Conference [Dkt. #22], and to Recuse U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes [Dkt. #23]. This is one of nine1 cases West has filed this year related to her employment at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, which ended in August 2016. 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 1 The cases are: West v. Stackley, C17-5246RBL, West v. Stackley, C17-5273RBL, West v. Stackley, C17-5366RBL, West v. Stackley, C17-5367RBL, West v. Stackley, C17-5368RBL, West v. Sessions, C17-5426RBL, West v. Stackley, C17-5510RBL. Two prior cases (purported class actions) against the prior Secretary of the Navy, West v Mabus, C16-5191RBL and West v Mabus, C16-5204RBL, were dismissed. ORDER - 1 1 Each generally complains about race, color and disability discrimination, and retaliation 2 for complaining about discrimination. The complaint in this case is particularly difficult to 3 understand. It appears to be based both on allegations about what others in the Navy did to her, 4 and on allegations that the Navy’s nuclear fleet is out of compliance with various regulations. 5 West claims that “Code 740 Loft Rigger Mechanic Robert M. Herman’s” nuclear qualification 6 expired, with severe consequences: 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 [Dkt. # 1 at 9] The relationship between the conclusory allegations personal to her and the broader allegations about naval readiness is not clear. Stackley moves for dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on most of West’s claims, and for failure to state a plausible claim as to all of them. He argues persuasively that West’s constitutional claims against the United States (and the Navy, and its Secretary, sued in his official capacity) are barred by sovereign immunity, and it is well-established that the United 24 ORDER - 2 1 States has not waived this immunity. See FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 477 (1994) (the United 2 States has not waived its sovereign immunity for constitutional claims). And West’s claims 3 against the Secretary fail because she has not alleged that he personally participated in any 4 alleged violation. Indeed, West makes only one allegation about Stackley: 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 [Dkt. #1 at paragraph 3.2] This seems to be an argument that the Navy or its Secretary is vicariously liable for the constitutional and other violations West claims. Stackley also points out that West’s ADA claim cannot be asserted against her federal employer. Maish v. Napolitano, Case No. 12-581-RAJ, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153174 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 24,2013) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 12111(5)(B)(i) (the federal government is not an “employer” for purposes of the ADA)). Stackley argues that West’s other allegations fail to articulate any facts that would support her repeated, conclusory allegations that various individuals “discriminated” or “retaliated” against her, or how, or why. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on either the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A plaintiff’s complaint must allege facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. See Aschcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). A claim has “facial plausibility” when the party seeking relief “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Although the Court must accept as true the Complaint’s well-pled facts, ORDER - 3 1 conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences will not defeat a Rule 12(c) motion. 2 Vazquez v. L. A. County, 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007); Sprewell v. Golden State 3 Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). “[A] plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ 4 of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic 5 recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to 6 raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 7 (2007) (citations and footnotes omitted). This requires a plaintiff to plead “more than an 8 unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me-accusation.” Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citing 9 Twombly). A pro se Plaintiff’s complaint is to be construed liberally, but like any other 10 complaint it must nevertheless contain factual assertions sufficient to support a facially plausible 11 claim for relief. Id. 12 On a 12(b)(6) motion, “a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to 13 amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured 14 by the allegation of other facts.” Cook, Perkiss & Liehe v. N. Cal. Collection Serv., 911 F.2d 242, 15 247 (9th Cir. 1990). However, where the facts are not in dispute, and the sole issue is whether 16 there is liability as a matter of substantive law, the court may deny leave to amend. Albrecht v. 17 Lund, 845 F.2d 193, 195–96 (9th Cir. 1988). 18 West’s response to the motion articulates three slightly different claims: she appears to 19 claim retaliation for filing three EEO complaints, related to sexual harassment, asbestos 20 exposure, and the use of uncertified gear to work on ships. The bulk of her response is dedicated 21 to the latter issue, but the relationship between those alleged violations and her discrimination or 22 retaliation claims remains unclear. 23 24 ORDER - 4 1 West also complains (again) that the attorney representing the moving party submitted a 2 “prefabricated” PROPOSED order granting the relief she sought (dismissal), and in doing so 3 ordered Judge Bryan (?) to “follow her written directions to dismiss.” This argument is 4 misguided and specious. 5 The Response does not address or remedy Stackley’s arguments, or the fatal flaws in 6 West’s complaint. She does not tie any of the “violations” she claims to any one person, much 7 less to the defendant she sued, Stackley. 8 9 West’s claims are purely conclusory and they are not plausible, no matter how liberally they are construed. West has already filed nine lawsuits and at least 100 motions, requests or 10 responses in this court this year, and not one of them articulates a plausible claim. There is 11 nothing that she could add or alter in yet another bite at the apple that would cure these fatal 12 defects. The Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED, and West’s claims in this matter are DISMISSED 13 with prejudice and without leave to amend. 14 West’s own motions (filed in multiple cases) [Dkt. #s 22 and 23] are DENIED as moot. 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 Dated this 19th day of September, 2017. 18 A 19 Ronald B. Leighton United States District Judge 17 20 21 22 23 24 ORDER - 5

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