UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
December 5, 2012
LANA K. WILLIAMS,
REX LEE HUHA; OLD REPUBLIC INSURANCE CO.; USF REDDAWAY INC; YRC WORLDWIDE INC.; ROBERT KOENIG; FIRST TRANSIT GALLAGHER BASSETT; THE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY'S GROUP INC.; AND THE CITY OF MADERA,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 2)
Plaintiff, Lana K. Williams, ("Plaintiff"), appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil complaint on November 16, 2012. Plaintiff has named Rex Lee Huha, Old Republic Insurance, YRC Worldwide Inc., Robert Koenig, First Transit Ghallegher Bassett, The Accident Attorney's Group Inc., and the City of Madera as Defendants. (collectively, "Defendants"). The Court has screened the complaint and recommends that the complaint be dismissed without leave to amend.
A. Screening Standard
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court must conduct an initial review of the complaint for sufficiency to state a claim. The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the court determines that the action is legally "frivolous or malicious," fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). 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.
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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusion are not. Id. at 1949.
A complaint, or portion thereof, should only be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim or claims that would entitle him to relief. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984), citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); see also Palmer v. Roosevelt Lake Log Owners Ass'n, 651 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1981). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the Court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hospital, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pro se pleadings liberally in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000), and resolve all doubts in the Plaintiff's favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).
B. Plaintiff's Allegations
Plaintiff alleges that she was injured in an accident that occurred on November 16, 2009,
while riding the transportation system in the City of Madera.*fn1 Although it is unclear from the complaint, she alleges that her attorney, Robert Koenig from the Accident Attorney's Group mishandled her case including failing to file her case in court as agreed upon. It also appears that Plaintiff is bringing claims for personal injuries against the City of Madera based on its relationship with the Transit System. Plaintiff alleges "insurance bad faith," "personal injury" and "legal malpractice" as causes of action. She seeks ten million dollars in damages and costs.
Based on the above facts, Plaintiff cannot establish that federal jurisdiction is proper.
Federal courts can adjudicate only those cases in which the United States Constitution and Congress authorize them to adjudicate which are essentially those cases involving diversity of citizenship (in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000 and is between citizens of different states), or a federal question, or to which the United States is a party. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332; See also, Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375 (1994);Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545, 109 S.Ct. 2003, 2008 (1989). As discussed below, Plaintiff has failed to establish that federal jurisdiction exists. The United States is not a party in this action and no federal question is presented. Similarly, several of the Defendants are citizens of California so complete diversity of jurisdiction cannot be established.
1. Federal Question
Plaintiff's complaint alleges personal injury, insurance bad faith, and legal malpractice as causes of action. Although these causes of action are not properly pled, they all appear to be state law claims. Thus, no federal questions are presented.
2. Diversity Jurisdiction
Similarly, Plaintiff is unable to establish diversity jurisdiction. "Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. at 377. "They possess only that power authorized by Constitution or a statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree." Id. (internal citations omitted). "It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Id. (internal citations omitted); see also Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir.2006).
"Subject matter jurisdiction based upon diversity of citizenship requires that no defendant have the same citizenship as any plaintiff." Tosco Corp. v. Communities for a Better Env't, 236 F.3d 495, 499 (9th Cir.2001) (per curiam), abrogated on other grounds by Hertz Corp. v. Friend, ------ U.S. --------, 130 S.Ct. 1181 (2010). "A plaintiff suing in federal court must show in his pleading, affirmatively and distinctly, the existence of whatever is essential to federal jurisdiction, and, if he does not do so, the court ... on discovering the [defect], must dismiss the case, unless the defect be corrected by amendment." Id. (quoting Smith v. McCullough, 270 U.S. 456, 459, 46 S.Ct. 338, 70 L.Ed. 682 (1926)).
Here, Plaintiff is a citizen of California. It is clear from the pleadings that Defendants City of Madera, Robert Koenig, and the Accident Attorney's Group are all citizens of California. These defendants are necessary parties given Plaintiff's claims. Therefore, there is no complete diversity between the parties and diversity jurisdiction does not exist.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court finds that Plaintiff would be unable to state a cognizable claim even if leave to amend were given. Accordingly, it is recommended that Plaintiff's complaint be DISMISSED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND for lack of federal jurisdiction. This dismissal shall be without prejudice.
These findings and recommendations will be submitted to the Honorable Anthony W. Ishii pursuant to the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within thirty (30) days after being served with these Findings and Recommendations, Plaintiff may file written objections with the Court. The document should be captioned "Objections to Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations." Plaintiff is advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court's order. Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991).
IT IS SO ORDERED.