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Hernandez v. Attisha

March 4, 2010

ROSA ROMERO HERNANDEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAMAD ATTISHA; AND YVONNE ATTISHA, DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

[Doc. No. 7]

Currently before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) the second, third, fifth, sixth, and seventh causes of action in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. [Doc. No. 7]. Having considered the parties' arguments, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual background

Plaintiff is a Mexican citizen certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a victim of human trafficking under Section 107(b) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 ("TVPA"). (FAC ¶ 1; see also Compl., Ex. A.) She alleges that from at least 2002, Defendants Samad and Yvonne Attisha began searching for a domestic servant through their secretary, Sonia, to serve in their house in San Diego County, California. Sonia allegedly told Plaintiff that she would be paid $7 per hour to work as a babysitter for Defendants' infant daughter and that she would only be responsible to work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Although Plaintiff did not have a valid working visa, Defendants promised they would "fix her papers." On or about May 18, 2002, Plaintiff entered the United States and began working for Defendants.

Plaintiff alleges that from that time on until approximately July 23, 2008, she was forced to act as a domestic servant to Defendants, performing all household chores and housekeeping duties. Plaintiff made no income in her first year because Defendants took her salary to reimburse Sonia for Plaintiff's transportation to the United States. Plaintiff alleges that during her time with Defendants, she often worked up to 14.5 hours per day for less than California or Federal minimum wage, and that she was subject to constant control of Defendants. Defendants confiscated Plaintiff's passport, made clear to Plaintiff that she was not free to leave, and made her feel that she had to hide if any third parties approached Defendants' residence.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials rescued Plaintiff from Defendants on July 23, 2008. Plaintiff was then certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a victim of human trafficking under Section 107(b) of the TVPA on September 30, 2008. Defendants were subsequently investigated for their human trafficking activities.

II. Procedural history

Plaintiff commenced this action on October 13, 2009, alleging seven causes of action against Defendants. [Doc. No. 1]. On November 16, 2009, Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), which alleged eight causes of action against Defendants. [Doc. No. 3]. Defendants subsequently filed the current Motion to Dismiss, and Plaintiff filed an opposition. [Doc. Nos. 7, 8].

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the pleadings. A complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it contains "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). The court may dismiss a complaint as a matter of law for: (1) "lack of cognizable legal theory," or (2) "insufficient facts under a cognizable legal claim." SmileCare Dental Group v. Delta Dental Plan of Cal., 88 F.3d 780, 783 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). The court only reviews the contents of the complaint, accepting all factual allegations as true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).

Despite the deference, the court need not accept "legal conclusions" as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ---, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009). It is also improper for the court to assume "the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged." Assoc. Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). On the other hand, "[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their ...


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