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Patrick Gleason v. Anne Glasscock; the California Horse Racing Board

February 28, 2011

PATRICK GLEASON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANNE GLASSCOCK; THE CALIFORNIA HORSE RACING BOARD, DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This case, in which plaintiff is proceeding pro se, is before the undersigned pursuant to Eastern District of California Local Rule 302(c)(21). See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Defendant California Horse Racing Board's moves to dismiss plaintiff's complaint and to strike plaintiff's claim for equitable relief.*fn1 Dckt. No. 7. For the reasons stated herein, the motion to dismiss must be granted and the motion to strike should be denied as moot.

I. BACKGROUND

In 2004, plaintiff was issued a license by the California Horse Racing Board ("CHRB") as both a racehorse owner and a racehorse trainer. Compl., Dckt. No. 2-1 ¶ 11. Plaintiff alleges that between May 2008 and June 2009, defendant Anne Glasscock, supervisory investigator for the CHRB, improperly refused to renew plaintiff's licenses. Id. at 5-18.

On April 30, 2010, plaintiff filed the underlying action in Sacramento County Superior Court against the CHRB, Anne Glasscock, and Does 1-30. See generally id. Plaintiff's complaint alleged six causes of action, three of which pertain to defendant CHRB. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that (1) CHRB violated California Civil Code section 51 by refusing to issue plaintiff a license, thereby "wrongfully and unlawfully discriminat[ing] against plaintiff based on his sex and/or race"; (2) CHRB violated Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution by "arbitrarily, capriciously and unreasonably . . . depriving [p]laintiff the right to pursue his lawful occupation or business as a racehorse owner and/or trainer"; and (3) CHRB violated California's Unfair Competition Law, California Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq., by unfairly refusing plaintiff's reapplication for a license, initially refusing to supply plaintiff stalls at Golden Gate Fields, and generally treating plaintiff unfairly. Id. ¶¶ 96, 101, 124. Plaintiff seeks damages and equitable relief. Id. at 27.

On July 30, 2010, defendant California Horse Racing Board removed the action to this court from Sacramento County Superior Court on the ground that plaintiff's complaint alleges federal claims. Dckt. No. 2. CHRB now seeks to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6), and to strike plaintiff's claim for equitable relief. Dckt. No. 7 at 2, 6.

II. MOTION TO DISMISS

A. Legal Standards

To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action"; it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "The pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id. (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, __ U.S. __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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." Id.

In considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trs., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolve all doubts in the pleader's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421, reh'g denied, 396 U.S. 869 (1969). The court will "'presume that general allegations embrace those specific facts that are necessary to support the claim.'" Nat'l Org. for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 256 (1994) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992)). Moreover, pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

The court may consider facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint. Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987). The court may also consider facts which may be judicially noticed, Mullis v. U.S. Bankr. Ct., 828 F.2d at 1388, and matters of public record, including pleadings, orders, and other papers filed with the court. Mack v. South Bay Beer Distribs., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986). The court need not accept legal conclusions "cast in the form of factual allegations." W. Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981).

B. Discussion

CHRB moves to dismiss plaintiff's complaint on the grounds that (1) plaintiff's claims are barred by res judicata and the failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and (2) plaintiff has failed to state a claim under California Civil Code section 51; Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution; or California Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq. Dckt. No. 7 at 1. As explained in detail below, the court finds that plaintiff's claims against CHRB should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Therefore, the court need not address CHRB's res judicata or exhaustion arguments.

1. California Civil Code Section 51, Unruh Civil Rights Act*fn2

Plaintiff alleges that CHRB violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act ("Unruh Act"), California Civil Code section 51, by discriminating against plaintiff on the basis of his sex (male) and/or race (Caucasian). Dckt. No. 2-1, ΒΆΒΆ 93-98. The Unruh Act provides that "[a]ll persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal ...


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