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Martin Eng v. Carter Hargrave; Hargrave Arts LLC; and Jeet Kune Do Federation

January 13, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Seeborg United States District Judge

*E-Filed 1/13/12 *



Plaintiff Martin Eng, appearing pro se, filed his second amended complaint (SAC) alleging 19 thirteen claims for relief against pro se defendant Carter Hargrave, Hargrave Arts LLC, and Jeet 20 Kune Do Federation (collectively, "Hargrave"). The SAC advances claims for: (1) conversion, (2) 21 negligence, (3) breach of contract, (4) constructive fraud, (5) violations of the Uniform Trade 22 Secrets Act, (6) intentional interference with prospective business advantage, (7) common law 23 unfair competition, (8)-(9) and violations of California Business & Professions Code § 17200 24 (unfair competition and false advertising). On the basis of these claims, he requests certain property 25 be returned to him via a constructive trust, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, and damages. 26 Hargrave moves to dismiss all claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6). Eng has 27 not filed an opposition. The motions were taken under submission without a hearing, pursuant to Local Rule 7-1(b), and for the reasons explained below, the motion to dismiss is granted with 2 prejudice. 3

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader 5 is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While "detailed factual allegations are not required," a 6 complaint must have sufficient factual allegations to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its 7 face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 8


U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) 9 based on "the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. 10 must accept all material allegations in the complaint as true, even if doubtful, and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "[C]onclusory 13 allegations of law and unwarranted inferences," however, "are insufficient to defeat a motion to 14 dismiss for failure to state a claim." Epstein v. Wash. Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 15 1996). "A document filed pro se is 'to be liberally construed,' and 'a pro se complaint, however 16 inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by 17 lawyers.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 18 In dismissing a complaint, leave to amend must be granted unless it is clear that the 20 complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Lucas v. Dep't of Corrections, 66 F.3d 21 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995). When amendment would be futile, however, dismissal may be ordered 22 with prejudice. Dumas v. Kipp, 90 F.3d 386, 393 (9th Cir.1996). When the "plaintiff has 23 previously been granted leave to amend and has subsequently failed to add the requisite particularity 24 to its claims, '[t]he district court's discretion to deny leave to amend is particularly broad.'" Zucco Partners LLC v. Digimarc Corp., 552 F.3d 981, 1007 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting In re Vantive Corp. 26


Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). When evaluating such a motion, the court (1976)).

Sec. Litig., 283 F.3d 1079, 1097-98 (9th Cir. 2002)). 27

A. Motion to dismiss

claim, and directed plaintiff to supplement the factual allegations upon amendment, the relevant 3 facts remain mostly unknown. Now, even under the relaxed pleading standard applied to pro se 4 litigants, the SAC still fails to state sufficient facts to support a claim. Significantly, plaintiff has 5 already been afforded two opportunities to amend his complaint, and has failed to oppose (or 6 otherwise respond to) Hargrave's motion to dismiss. As a result, dismissal with prejudice is 7 appropriate. Zucco Partners, 552 F.3d at 1007.

Conversion, the theory underlying Eng's first claim, is defined as "the wrongful exercise of 10 dominion over the personal property of another." Fremont Indem. Co. v. Fremont General Corp., 148 Cal. App. 4th 97, 119 (2007). To state a claim for conversion, Eng must allege: (1) his ownership or right to possession of personal property; (2) the defendant's disposition of the property 13 in a manner that is inconsistent with his property rights; and (3) resulting damages. Id. Here, the 14 SAC remains in substantially the same condition that previously merited dismissal, and deficient in 15 virtually every respect. Although Eng has added one paragraph (¶ 8) alleging the existence of a 16 business agreement between himself and Hargrave, there are insufficient facts alleged to support the 17 existence of such an agreement.*fn1 Even assuming that Eng had established an agreement -- and he 18 has not -- he has failed to identify, with any particularity, the "various trademarks" he believes were 19 misappropriated by Hargrave. Eng has ...

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