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Majors v. Delta Air Lines

April 15, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court


Presently before the Court is defendant Delta Air Lines, Inc.'s ("Delta") motion to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. No. 14.) For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants Delta's motion.


Plaintiff Jason Majors, proceeding pro se, brings this action under Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. The allegations arise from discriminatory treatment Plaintiff contends he suffered at the San Diego International Airport on September 28, 2008. On that day, Plaintiff alleges he was standing in a long "coach class" security checkpoint line when he noticed that "first class" passengers who had arrived after he were allowed to enter a separate line. Those passengers then allegedly passed through the security checkpoint ahead of Plaintiff and others who had been waiting in the coach class line.

Plaintiff filed suit on October 31, 2008 and later filed a first amended complaint ("FAC") on January 21, 2009, naming the Transportation Security Administration ("TSA"), Delta, and San Diego Regional Airport Authority ("Airport Authority"). (Doc. No. 13.) On February 9, 2009, Delta filed a motion to dismiss the FAC for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). (Doc. No. 14.) On March 12, 2009 Delta filed a reply brief underscoring Plaintiff's failure to timely oppose the motion. (Doc. No. 19.) On March 19, 2009, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion (Doc. No. 26,) and Delta filed an additional reply brief. (Doc. No. 27.) The Court finds the motion suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1).


I. Legal Standard

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) (2009). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all factual allegations pled in the complaint as true, and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir.1996). To a void a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, rather, it must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). However, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555 (citation omitted). In spite of the deference the court is bound to pay to the plaintiff's allegations, it is not proper for the court to assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged or that defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). The Court recognizes the mandate to construe a pro se plaintiff's pleadings liberally in determining whether a claim has been stated. Ortez v. Washington County, 88 F.3d 804, 807 (9th Cir. 1996).

II. Plaintiff's Claim Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Plaintiff seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing he was deprived of his constitutional rights when Delta "segregated [or] permitted the segregation of first class and coach class passengers." (FAC at 2.)42 U.S.C. § 1983 imposes liability on:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .

Section 1983 "does not create substantive rights; it merely serves as the procedural device for enforcing substantive provisions of the Constitution and federal statutes." Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). "To establish a prima facie case under § 1983, [a plaintiff] must establish that: (1) the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) the conduct violated a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Humphries v. County of L.A., 554 F.3d 1170, 1184 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).Plaintiff's claim fails because he does not sufficiently allege Delta was acting under color of state law or that he was deprived of any right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

A) Action Under Color of State Law.

Section 1983 only provides a remedy against persons acting under color of state law. Ibrahim v. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 538 F.3d 1250, 1257 (9th Cir. 2008) (emphasis added); Gorenc v. Salt River Project Agricultural Improv. & Power Dist., 869 F.2d 503, 506 (9th Cir. 1989) ("Liability [under ยง 1983] attaches only to those wrongdoers 'who carry a badge of authority of a State and represent it in ...

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