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Iniguez v. Boyd Corp.

July 13, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anthony W. Ishii Chief United States District Judge



This case arises from a series of alleged events of harassment and discrimination taking place between May 5, 2007, and June 4, 2007. George Iniguez ("Plaintiff") alleges that he was verbally harassed and later terminated after bringing the harassment to the attention of his supervisors. Plaintiff filed this action on November, 17, 2008, following receipt of a right-tosue notice from the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing ("DFEH") dated January 7, 2008. Plaintiff files suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Boyd Corporation ("Defendant") filed the instant motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on May, 21, 2009.


A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. It is a fundamental precept that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Limits upon federal jurisdiction must not be disregarded or evaded. Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978). The plaintiff has the burden to establish that subject matter jurisdiction is proper. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). This burden, at the pleading stage, must be met by pleading sufficient allegations to show a proper basis for the court to assert subject matter jurisdiction over the action. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1). "A Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack may be facial or factual." Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). "In a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations contained in a complaint are insufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction." Safe Air, 373 F.3d at 1039. When a defendant challenges jurisdiction "facially," all material allegations in the complaint are assumed true, and the question for the court is whether the lack of federal jurisdiction appears from the face of the pleading itself. Whisnant v. United States, 400 F.3d 1177, 1179 (9th Cir. 2005); Wolfe v. Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 362 (9th Cir. 2004); Thornhill Publishing Co. v. General Telephone Electronics, 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979).

A defendant may also attack the existence of subject matter jurisdiction based on facts outside the pleadings. White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000). "[I]n a factual attack, the challenger disputes the truth of the allegations that, by themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction." Safe Air, 373 F.3d at 1039. Once the moving party has converted the motion to dismiss into a factual motion by presenting affidavits or other evidence properly brought before the court, the party opposing the motion must furnish affidavits or other evidence necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Safe Air, 373 F.3d at 1039; Savage v. Glendale Union High School, Dist. No. 205, Maricopa County, 343 F.3d 1036, 1040 n.2 (9th Cir. 2003). In resolving a factual attack on jurisdiction, the district court may review evidence beyond the complaint without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Safe Air, 373 F.3d at 1039. "No presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims." Thornhill Publishing, 594 F.2d at 733. However, in the absence of a full-fledged evidentiary hearing, disputed facts should be resolved in favor of the non-moving party. Rhoades v. Avon Products, Inc., 504 F.3d 1151, 1156 (9th Cir. 2007); Dreier v. United States, 106 F.3d 844, 847 (9th Cir. 1996); Greene v. United States, 207 F.Supp.2d 1113, 1119 (E.D.Cal. 2002).

B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court examines whether a complaint "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, 'to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolve all doubts in the pleader's favor. Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969); Broam v. Bogan, 320 F.3d 1023, 1028 (9th Cir. 2003). In Ashcroft the Supreme Court affirmed the broad application of the "plausible" standard, announced in Twombly, for examining the sufficiency of pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Ashcroft 129 S.Ct. at 1953 (stating that the Court's decision in Twombly was based on "[the Court's] interpretation and application of Rule 8" and continuing that "[The Court's] decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standing standard for 'all civil actions'"). In applying the Twombly standard in Ashcroft the Court outlined a two step process for analyzing a complaint. Id. at 1950-51. First, a reviewing court identifies all legal conclusions "that are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft 129 S.Ct. at 1949-51 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, parenthetically for the proposition that the Court "[is] not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation"). Second, a court, "draw[ing] on its judicial experience and common sense", must determine in the specific context of the case whether the facts, if taken as true, establish a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950. A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal can be based on either the failure to allege a cognizable legal theory or the failure to allege sufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990); Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 533-34 (9th Cir.1984).

C. Leave to Amend

Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that leave to amend "shall be freely given when justice so requires. '[T]his mandate is to be heeded." Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Cal. Architectural Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, Inc., 818 F.2d 1466, 1472 (9th Cir. 1987). "In exercising its discretion . . . a court must be guided by the underlying purpose of Rule 15 - to facilitate decision on the merits rather than on the pleadings or technicalities." Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1135 (9th Cir.1987) (citations omitted). "Thus, Rule 15's policy of favoring amendments to pleadings should be applied with extreme liberality." Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Rose, 893 F.2d 1074, 1079 (9th Cir.1990). While the Court should freely give leave to amend if justice requires, the Court may deny leave to amend if the amendment would be futile or subject to dismissal. Gadda v. State Bar of Cal., 511 F.3d 933, 939 (9th Cir. 2007); Saul v. United States, 928 F.2d 829, 843 (9th Cir. 1991).


Plaintiff alleges in his attached DFEH administrative charge form that while employed as a production worker by Defendant, Plaintiff was verbally harassed by a co-worker from May 5, 2007, until June 4, 2007. Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated on June 4, 2007, because of complaints made to Defendant's human resources department and Plaintiff's supervisor concerning the alleged verbal harassment. Plaintiff alleges that he had made Defendant aware of the harassment on May 23, 2007, and no corrective action was subsequently taken. Plaintiff's DFEH charge is signed and dated September 1, 2007, and is filestamped as received by the DFEH on September 4, 2007. Throughout the charge, all references to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") have been struck out, including the EEOC file number and check-box which states "I also want this charge filed with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)." Complaint at 8 (stike-out in original). Plaintiff's right-tosue notice from the DFEH, dated January 7, 2008, is attached and incorporated by reference in the complaint. Plaintiff alleges that he has timely filed suit within 90 days of receipt of the rightto-sue notice. In the complaint, Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant engaged in discriminatory employment practices ...

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