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White v. Rskovish

November 1, 2010

ADRIAN JOE WHITE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHNATHON BITTIS RSKOVISH; LIBERTY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On September 8, 2010, Plaintiff filed this action against Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company and Johnathon Bittis Ruskovish. Plaintiff states that his claims arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and requests declaratory relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202.

The factual basis of Plaintiff's complaint is not particularly clear. Plaintiff names Johnathon Bittis Ruskovish and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company ("Defendants") as defendants who were involved in events surrounding a traffic accident that occurred on September 27, 2005. Plaintiff asserts that, while on his bicycle, he was hit by a vehicle driven by Defendant Ruskovish. Defendant Ruskovish is apparently insured by Defendant Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants in Sacramento County Superior Court for, among other things, personal injuries he received during the accident.

Although the events as set forth in the complaint are not entirely clear, it appears Plaintiff was initially represented in his personal injury suit against Defendants by Scranton Law Firm, but that firm withdrew its representation of Plaintiff before the case concluded. Plaintiff asserts that, during the personal injury suit, Defendants refused to make a settlement offer, and Plaintiff ultimately withdrew his complaint or his complaint was otherwise dismissed involuntarily. Following the dismissal of the complaint, Defendants sought fees and costs against Plaintiff related to that litigation, and a lien was apparently placed on Plaintiff's property. Plaintiff asserts that Scranton Law Firm did not inform him of sensitive deadlines that might result in the dismissal of his case.

Plaintiff also complains that the Sacramento County Superior Court's dismissal of his case deprived him of constitutional rights guaranteed to him under the First, Eighth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Complaint ("Compl.") at 4. Plaintiff states that he is "seeking to initiate an appeal of the dismissal of [his] original complaint." Compl. at 6.

DISCUSSION

A. Screening Standard

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by parties proceeding in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it is legally "frivolous or malicious," fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

B. Failure to State a Claim

In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the Court uses the same pleading standard used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a), 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)(2). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, __, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

C. Analysis

1. The Section 1983 Claim Against Defendants ...


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