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Edward R. Haynes v. Jody Schwenkel

April 18, 2012

EDWARD R. HAYNES,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JODY SCHWENKEL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 1)

Edward Haynes is proceeding pro se with an action for a violation of civil rights and conspiracy against defendants Jody Schwenkel, Jose Ortiz, Soledad Giron, Marisol O‟Neil, Annette Dodson, James Ledford, Kathy Ware, Patty Dudley, Russ Miller, and Diane Hernandez (collectively "Defendants"), who are employees of J.P. Morgan Chase and Company Bank. For the following reasons, Plaintiff‟s complaint is DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

I. PLEADING STANDARDS

General rules for pleading complaints are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A pleading stating a claim for relief must include a statement affirming the court‟s jurisdiction, "a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief; and . . . a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). The Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, and pro se pleadings are held to "less stringent standards" than pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521-21 (1972).

A complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the plaintiff‟s claim in a plain and 2 succinct manner. Jones v. Cmty Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). The 3 purpose of the complaint is to give the defendant fair notice of the claims against him, and the grounds 4 upon which the complaint stands. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002).

The Supreme Court noted,

Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Conclusory and vague allegations do not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). The Court clarified further,

[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." [Citation]. 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. [Citation]. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement," but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. [Citation]. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant‟s liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of "entitlement to relief.‟

Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citations omitted). When factual allegations are well-pled, a court should assume their truth and determine whether the facts would make the plaintiff entitled to relief; conclusions in the pleading are not entitled to the same assumption of truth. Id.

The Court has a duty to dismiss a case at any time it determines an action fails to state a claim, "notwithstanding any filing fee that may have been paid." 28 U.S.C. § 1915e(2). Accordingly, a court "may act on its own initiative to note the inadequacy of a complaint and dismiss it for failure to state a claim." See Wong v. Bell, 642 F.2d 359, 361 (9th Cir. 1981) (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1357 at 593 (1963). However, the Court may grant leave to amend a complaint to the extent deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by an amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-28 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

II. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS 2

Plaintiff alleges he is an African-American senior citizen, and is disabled within the meaning 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Doc. 1 at 15-16). He opened an account with J.P. Morgan 4 Chase and Company Bank ("Chase Bank") on or about October 20, 2009. Id. at 6. According to 5 Plaintiff, he was "asked . . . if he had any income payments he wished to have as a direct deposit, to 6 which Plaintiff replied in the negative." Id. Plaintiff asserts he noted a discrepancy with his credit 7 card in May 2010, at which time Plaintiff spoke with Marisol O‟Neil and informed him that Plaintiff 8 "had a specific arrangement with Bank of America wherein funds were moved from his savings 9 account monthly to his checking account . . . and that Plaintiff did not wish to alter this arrangement." Id. at 6-7.

On July 13, 2010, Plaintiff discovered that his direct-deposit funds from the Veteran‟s Administration ("VA") "had been diverted from his Bank of America savings account to his Chase Bank checking account." (Doc. 1 at 7). Plaintiff contends he went to Chase Bank and met with Marisol O‟Neil, inquiring "what document or computer data [the Bank] had utilized which would have permitted them to divert Plaintiff‟s direct-deposit from Bank of America to Chase Bank." Id. He alleges Marisol O‟Neil reported "she found nothing in Chase Bank‟s computer records which could answer his question . . . and she did not know of any other actions which might have been taken by Chase Bank that might have caused the diversion of his direct-deposit funds." Id.

After Ms. O‟Neil was unable to tell Plaintiff how the direct-deposit change occurred, Plaintiff spoke with Ms. Lines, a Bank of America representative, on July 16, 2010. (Doc. 1 at 8). He contends Ms. Lines informed Plaintiff "she did not know how the transfer could have been made without Plaintiff‟s specific approval." Id. She assisted Plaintiff in completing an application "to change the direct-deposit back to Bank of America," which he submitted to the VA. Id. However, "the office was unable to locate Plaintiff‟s records . . . [and] the application was returned to Plaintiff." Id. He asserts he traveled to the VA to have the direct-deposit funds redirected to Bank of America on August 5, 2010. Id. There, Plaintiff confirmed his July and August 2010 payments had been deposited into his checking account with Chase Bank, and he completed an application to restore the deposit of funds to Bank of America. Id.

According to Plaintiff, he went to Chase Bank with David Cochran, a retired civil attorney, to 2 speak with the branch manager on August 16, 2010. (Doc. 1 at 8). Plaintiff contends Annette 3 Dodson, Assistant Manager of Sales and Bank Tellers, informed him that the manager was 4 unavailable, and Ms. Dodson said she would attempt to resolve the matter. Id. at 9. Plaintiff asserts 5 Ms. Dodson "appeared intent upon classifying the situation as some form of a simple 6 "misunderstanding‟ between Plaintiff and [Chase Bank] employees who interviewed Plaintiff," and 7 "placing the blame for this puzzling situation directly on Defendant O‟Neil." Id. Plaintiff alleges Ms. 8 Dodson knew the deposit came from VA, but he never told the Chase Bank employees the source of 9 his direct deposit, and "this information could ONLY have been the product of some unethical, if not illegal, search and/or manipulation of Plaintiff‟s personal records." Id. at 10.

On August 17, 2010, "Plaintiff awoke and discovered that he had fallen to the floor in his home," which caused an injury to his face. (Doc. 1 at 11). He went to the Fresno Veteran‟s Administration Medical Center for treatment, but the "staff was unable to determine what caused the fall and subsequent unconsciousness." Id. Plaintiff asserts this was "directly attributable to the stress he was suffering from . . . being unable to resolve the Chase Base situation." Id.

Plaintiff alleges Mr. Cochran attempted to contact Kathy Ware, the supervisor of all Bakersfield Chase Bank branches, on his behalf on August 20, 2010. (Doc. 1 at 11). Patty Dudley informed Mr. Cochran that Ms. Ware was unavailable, but she "verified that the direct-deposit funds had indeed been diverted." Id. at 11-12. In addition, Ms. Dudley said she would leave a message with Ms. Ware regarding Plaintiff‟s complaint. Id. at 12. A couple days later, Ms. Dudley requested Mr. Cochran bring a copy ...


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