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MOORE v. 19th HOLE RESTAURANT

United States District Court, S.D. California


November 18, 2005.

LONNIE MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
19th HOLE RESTAURANT, et al., Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM HAYES, District Judge

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

I. Introduction

On July 18, 2005, Plaintiff Lonnie Moore, proceeding pro se, filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendants 19th Hole Restaurant, Steve Tobey, and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board ("CUIAB"). Plaintiff's FAC alleges that the Defendants wrongfully denied him his right to unemployment benefits. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that the CUIAB acted under color of state law to wrongfully deprive him of his right to unemployment compensation pursuant to California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1256.1, a statute which Plaintiff asserts is in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 3304. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, $10,000,000 in unspecified damages, and $2,000,000 in punitive damages. The Court now issues the following rulings.

  II. Background

  Plaintiff filed a Complaint on May 16, 2005, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking "$10,000,000 in unemployment benefits, $2,000,000 for service and elapsed time, the `removal' of California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1256.1 `from state legislation,' `to discipline the court for its action,' and to strike Congress minority leader Nancy Pelosi of her title." July 13, 2005 Order (1) Granting Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis; and (2) Dismissing Complaint with Leave to Amend ("Order") at 1. Additionally, Plaintiff moved to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Id.

  On July 13, 2005, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP, but dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint for several reasons. Id. at 10. In the Complaint, Plaintiff failed to name a "defendant who allegedly acted under color of state law," a requirement for a § 1983 claim. Id. at 3. Furthermore, the Court ruled that

Plaintiff . . . failed to state a cause of action against the 19th Hole for denying Plaintiff unemployment compensation. First, Plaintiff is likely an at-will employee. Additionally, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state that he followed the appropriate procedure required to recover under the California Unemployment Insurance Code. Finally, Plaintiff fails to state any claim of entitlement to recovery under workers' compensation law.
Id. at 6-7. In addition, Plaintiff's Complaint was frivolous as it contained "threatening, fanciful, delusional and clearly baseless" allegations. Id. at 5. Accordingly, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint as "factually frivolous and failing to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)." Id. at 10.

  On July 18, 2005, Plaintiff filed a FAC in which he alleges that Defendants CUIAB, Steve Tobey, and the 19th Hole Restaurant wrongfully denied him his right to unemployment benefits. FAC, p. 1. Further, Plaintiff alleges that CAL. UNEMP. INS. CODE § 1256.1, which the CUIAB allegedly applied in denying Plaintiff unemployment compensation, violates 26 U.S.C. § 3304, an enabling statute for the Secretary of Labor to approve state unemployment compensation plans. Id.

  III. Standard of Review

  Complaints filed by pro se litigants are subject to a less stringent standard of review. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n. 1 (9th Cir. 1985) (en banc)). "In civil rights cases where the Plaintiff appears pro se, the court must construe the pleadings liberally and must afford the Plaintiff the benefit of any doubt." Id. In such cases, "dismissal is proper only if it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment." Broughton v. Cutter Laboratories, 622 F.2d 458, 460 (9th Cir. 1980). However, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) permits the dismissal of a case upon the determination that the complaint is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.

  IV. Discussion

  A. Dismissal of Plaintiff's Claims Against the CUIAB

  To state a claim under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled on other grounds by Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330-331 (1986). Plaintiff's FAC alleges that the CUIAB's denial of unemployment benefits was improper because the pertinent California Unemployment Insurance Code sections are purportedly in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 3304. FAC, p. 1. However, "it is well established that agencies of the state are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from private damages or suits for injunctive relief brought in federal courts." Savage v. Glendale Union High Sch., 343 F.3d 1036, 1040 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984)). Specifically, the Ninth Circuit has held that § 1983 actions against the CUIAB are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., Wood v. Sargeant, 694 F.2d 1159, 1161 (9th Cir. 1982) (holding that § 1983 action against the CUIAB is barred by the Eleventh Amendment); cf. Esparza v. Valdez, 862 F.2d 788, 795 (10th Cir. 1988) (a suit seeking unemployment compensation from state-administered fund for past violations of federal rights is barred by the Eleventh Amendment); Eaglesmith v. Ward, 73 F.3d 857, 860 (9th Cir. 1995) (affirming dismissal of employee's § 1983 action brought against school superintendent in his official capacity because he is a state agent entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity); Cerrato v. San Francisco Cmty. Coll. Dist., 26 F.3d 968, 972 (9th Cir. 1994) (in a § 1983 action, the Ninth Circuit held the Eleventh Amendment bars a federal court from hearing claims against dependent instrumentalities of the state); Almond Hill Sch. v. U.S. Dep't of Agriculture, 768 F.2d 1030, 1034-1035 (9th Cir. 1985) (in § 1983 action against the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Ninth Circuit found that an "action against a state agency for any type of relief is barred by the [E]leventh [A]mendment."). Therefore, the Court need not determine whether Plaintiff has alleged the violation of a right secured by the laws of the United States by claiming that the California Unemployment Insurance Code violates a U.S. Department of Labor enabling statute.

  Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims against the CUIAB are dismissed without prejudice. See Freeman v. Oakland Unified School Dist., 179 F.3d 846, 847 (9th Cir. 1999) (in actions barred by the Eleventh Amendment, a federal court must dismiss without prejudice to the case being refiled in state court); Frigard v. United States, 179 F.3d 846, 847 (9th Cir. 1999).

  B. Dismissal of Plaintiff's Claims Against Steve Tobey and 19th Hole

  Plaintiff's FAC alleges that "Steve Tobey of 19th Hole . . . denied Particular [sic] right to unemployment benefits [sic] it does appear [sic] cover sheet." FAC, p. 1. As Plaintiff does not allege that Defendants Tobey and 19th Hole acted under color of state law to deprive him of constitutional or federal statutory rights, he fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983. Moreover, for the same reasons discussed in the Court's July 13, 2005 Order, Plaintiff's FAC also fails to allege facts establishing either Plaintiff's eligibility for unemployment compensation, or Tobey and 19th Hole's liability under any cognizable legal theory. Indeed, the FAC does not make any further allegations or statements regarding these Defendants. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Tobey or 19th Hole under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, or any other basis on which relief may be granted.

  V. Conclusion and Order

  Having reviewed the papers submitted and the relevant law, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's claims against the CUIAB are DISMISSED without prejudice to the case being refiled in state court. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Steve Tobey and 19th Hole are DISMISSED without prejudice and with leave to amend. If Plaintiff elects to file a second amended complaint, he must reallege the pertinent claims made in previous pleadings, as wells as cure the defects outlined by the Court in this Order and the July 13, 2005 Order. If Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted in his second amended complaint, Plaintiff will not be granted another opportunity to cure the defects in a third amended complaint. Additionally, Plaintiff must file his second amended complaint no later than 30 days following the date this Order is filed.

  IT IS SO ORDERED.

20051118

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