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Stephen Garcia v. Kojo H. Moore

March 9, 2012

STEPHEN GARCIA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
KOJO H. MOORE, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT AND GRANTING 30 DAYS LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 1)

I. INTRODUCTION

On February 6, 2012, Plaintiff Stephen Garcia ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Kojo Moore (a Fresno defense attorney; "Moore") and Moore's law firm Ciummo & Associates ("Ciummo") (Ciummo and Moore are collectively referred to as "Defendants"). On February 16, 2012, the Central District transferred Plaintiff's case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

Plaintiff challenges the legal services Plaintiff received from Defendants, which Plaintiff deemed to be unsatisfactory. Plaintiff purports to state claims for "Breach of Fiduciary Duty" (Pl.'s Compl., 8-13, Doc.1), "Negligent Misrepresentation" (Pl.'s Compl., 14-18, Doc.1), "Professional Negligence (Legal Malpractice)" (Pl.'s Compl., 19-20, Doc.1), and "Breach of Contract." (Pl.'s Compl., 21-23, Doc.1.)

II. BACKGROUND

On December 12, 2008, Plaintiff was arrested as a result of an altercation with employees of a "Rite-Aid" in Fresno, California. (Pl.'s Compl., 3: 3-6, Doc.1.) A subsequent altercation ensued with arresting officers. (Pl.'s Compl., 3-4, Doc.1.) At the criminal proceedings, Kojo H. Moore, an attorney with Ciummo & Associates, was appointed as counsel for Plaintiff. (Pl.'s Compl., 5, Doc.1.) Plaintiff alleges Moore failed to provide adequate representation, prompting the filing of the instant matter. (Pl.'s Compl., 5-7, Doc.1.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Screening Requirement

Pursuant to Title 28 of the United States Code Section 1915(e)(2), the Court has reviewed the complaint for sufficiency to state a claim. The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it determines that the action is legally "frivolous or malicious," or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the Court looks to the pleading standard 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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007)).

"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "[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.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (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. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. "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). 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 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

B. Plaintiff's Claims Must Be Dismissed For Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and lack inherent or general subject matter jurisdiction. Federal courts can only adjudicate those cases in which the United States Constitution and Congress authorize them to adjudicate. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675, (1994). The presumption is that federal courts lack jurisdiction over civil actions, and the burden to establish the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction. Id.

A district court has a duty to determine subject matter jurisdiction over the action before it sua sponte. United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed, Inc ., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th Cir.2004). Sua sponte dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is appropriate at any stage of the proceedings. Scholastic Entm't, Inc. v. Fox ...


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