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Glenn-Michael Kuder v. Tammy Haas

December 1, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge


Presently before the court is a motion to dismiss filed by defendants JP Morgan Chase, N.A. ("JP Morgan") and California Reconveyance Company (collectively "Moving Defendants") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which seeks to dismiss plaintiff's claims on the grounds that: (1) plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion, which is sometimes referred to as res judicata; (2) plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of issue preclusion, which is sometimes referred to as collateral estoppel; and (3) plaintiff's complaint otherwise fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted. (Dkt. No. 10.) Plaintiff is proceeding without counsel.*fn1 This matter was submitted on the briefs and record without oral argument. (Dkt. No. 21.)

The undersigned has fully considered the parties' briefs and the record in this case and, for the reasons stated below, recommends that the Moving Defendant's motion to dismiss be granted and that the claims against the Moving Defendants be dismissed with prejudice. In short, plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion as a result of the court's resolution of plaintiff's prior lawsuit, Kuder v. Washington Mutual Bank and California Reconveyance Company, No. 2:08-cv-03087 LKK DAD PS ("Kuder I"), which was summarily affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Kuder v. Washington Mutual Bank, et al., No. 09-17346 (9th Cir. Apr. 13, 2010) (unpublished order). Because the record supports the conclusion that plaintiff may not litigate claims that he could have brought in Kuder I, the undersigned does not reach the Moving Defendants' arguments premised on the doctrine of issue preclusion. However, the undersigned also addresses alternative, nonpreclusion grounds that support the dismissal of plaintiff's claims.


A. The Earlier Action: Kuder I

On November 13, 2008, plaintiff filed a complaint in Siskiyou County Superior Court entitled "Action to Quiet Title to Private Allodial Property."*fn2 (Ex. 5 to Request for Judicial Notice ("RFJN"), Dkt. No. 11.)*fn3 That quiet title action, which challenged the Kuder I defendants' ability to foreclose on plaintiff's property on numerous grounds, was removed to this federal court. On September 1, 2009, United States Magistrate Judge Dale Drozd entered findings and recommendations that recommended the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint in Kuder I with prejudice. (Findings & Recommendations, Sept. 1, 2009, Ex. 7 to RFJN.)

On September 20, 2009, the district judge presiding over Kuder I adopted Magistrate Judge Drozd's Findings and Recommendations "in full" and dismissed plaintiff's case with prejudice. (Order, Sept. 30, 2009, Ex. 8 to RFJN.) The court entered judgment on September 30, 2009. (Judgment In A Civil Case, Ex. 8 to RFJN.) Plaintiff appealed the district court's order and judgment. (Notice of Appeal, Ex. 9 to RFJN.)

In an unpublished order, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals summarily affirmed the district court's decision in Kuder I. (Order, Apr. 13, 2010, Ex. 10 to RFJN.) In summarily affirming the district court, the Court of Appeals stated that "the questions raised in this appeal are so insubstantial as not to require further argument." (Id.)

B. The Present Action: Kuder II

On September 8, 2010, while the Findings and Recommendations in Kuder I were still pending before the district judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, plaintiff filed the instant action, Kuder II, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ("D.C. District Court"). (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff's verified complaint in Kuder II alleges claims against JP Morgan, California Reconveyance Company, Tammy Haas, Randall Naiman, and Minton Home Town Properties, Inc. ("Minton").*fn4 Plaintiff's complaint alleges that defendants violated his due process rights by foreclosing on his property, and also alleges claims for injunctive and declaratory relief.

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ultimately transferred Kuder II to this court because of concerns regarding proper venue. (Dkt. No. 7.) Following the transfer to this court, the Moving Defendants filed the pending motion to dismiss. Although plaintiff initially failed to file an opposition or statement of non-opposition with respect to the pending motion, he eventually filed a written opposition after the court entered an order to show cause. (See Dkt. Nos. 16-19.) The Moving Defendants filed a reply brief. (Dkt. No. 20.)


A motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings set forth in the complaint. Vega v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 654 F. Supp. 2d 1104, 1109 (E.D. Cal. 2009). Under the "notice pleading" standard of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff's complaint must provide, in part, a "short and plain statement" of plaintiff's claims showing entitlement to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); see also Paulsen v. CNF, Inc., 559 F.3d 1061, 1071 (9th Cir. 2009). "A complaint may survive a motion to dismiss if, taking all well-pleaded factual allegations as true, it contains 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg, 593 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). "'A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Caviness v. Horizon Cmty. Learning Ctr., Inc., 590 F.3d 806, 812 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949). The court accepts all of the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Corrie v. Caterpillar, 503 F.3d 974, 977 (9th Cir. 2007). The court is "not, however, required to accept as true conclusory allegations that are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint, and [the court does] not necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Paulsen, 559 F.3d at 1071 (citations and quotation marks omitted). The court must construe a pro se pleading liberally to determine if it states a claim and, prior to dismissal, tell a plaintiff of deficiencies in his complaint and give plaintiff an opportunity to cure them if it appears at all possible that the plaintiff can correct the defect. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

In ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b), the court "may generally consider only allegations contained in the pleadings, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters properly subject to judicial notice." Outdoor Media Group, Inc. v. City of Beaumont, 506 F.3d 895, 899 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). As noted above, the court may consider judicially noticeable court records to determine the preclusive effect of prior ...

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