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Halajian v. City of Frenso

August 5, 2010

BARRY HALAJIAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF FRENSO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

Plaintiff Barry Halajian ("Plaintiff"), appearing pro se, filed the instant civil rights action on July 30, 2010. He names the City of Fresno, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Officer Matt Pantages, Frontier Auto Body & Towing and Chris Clark as Defendants. Plaintiff paid the filing fee and is therefore not appearing in forma pauperis.

DISCUSSION

A. Screening Standard

A trial court may dismiss a claim sua sponte under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) where the claimant cannot possibly win relief. Omar v.Sea-Land Service, Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987); Wong v. Bell, 642 F.2d 359, 361-62 (9th Cir. 1981). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact. Neitzke v. Wiliams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). A federal court may dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Nietzke, 490 U.S. at 327.

B. Plaintiff's Allegations

According to his complaint, Defendant Fresno Police Officer Matt Pantages made a traffic stop on October 29, 2009. Plaintiff was driving a 2004 Chevrolet pick up truck. When Officer Pantages discovered that Plaintiff had a suspended license, he called a tow truck. Plaintiff's truck was towed by Defendant Frontier Auto Body & Towing. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Officer Pantages acted beyond the scope of his authority in having Plaintiff's vehicle towed. He also alleges that Defendants City of Fresno and Police Chief Dyer directed Officer Pantages to take actions that were beyond the scope of his authority and engage in unlawful activities. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Chris Clark*fn1 and Frontier Auto Body & Towing acted under color of law and under the direction of the City of Fresno.

Plaintiff contends that the act of towing his truck violated the Fourth Amendment based on his belief that he does not fit the definitions of those required to have a driver's license. Specifically, he contends that he has a "right to travel on the highway, unless [he] transport[s] persons or property for hire." Complaint, at 7. Plaintiff also alleges that the towing of his vehicle deprived him of due process of law.*fn2

Even if he was required to have a license, Plaintiff contends that the suspension was invalid because he was not afforded a hearing in violation of due process.

Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Fresno County Superior Court in November 2009. The court sustained Defendants' demurrer and dismissed the complaint because Plaintiff failed to name the City of Fresno and failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. He alleges that Defendants "refused to engage in any kind of dialog or do anything but demand money and compliance with what they consider to be the law in California." Complaint, at 8. Plaintiff alleges that he has exhausted his administrative remedies.*fn3

Plaintiff requests that his truck be returned and that he be awarded damages in the amount of $75,000.

C. Discussion

1. Driver's License Requirement

Much of Plaintiff's complaint is dedicated to supporting his argument that he did not need a driver's license. According to his reading of various federal and state statutes, he contends that a license is only required for drivers who are transporting persons or property for hire. He contends that he is "not involved in the transportation of persons or property for hire," and therefore did not need a ...


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