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Indigo Freemanvibe, Et. Al v. Valley Arts and Science Academy

April 3, 2013


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



Plaintiffs Indigo Freemanvibe and J.F., a minor child ("Plaintiffs"), are proceeding pro se in this civil action, having filed a complaint on October 19, 2012. (Doc. 1). On November 13, 2012, Plaintiffs paid the $350.00 filing fee. (Receipt No. CAE100020627). Plaintiffs were advised that though they paid the filing fee, the Court is required to screen complaints of pro se litigants pursuant to Title 28 of the United States Code section 1915A(a). Plaintiffs were informed that the Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the litigant has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant(s) who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)&(2). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' complaint (Doc. 1) is DISMISSED without prejudice and Plaintiffs are granted leave to amend.


At the outset, the Court notes that in reviewing Plaintiffs' complaint it is very difficult to discern what precise claims Plaintiffs actually wishes to raise, and which factual allegations support those claims. However, generally, Plaintiffs appear to assert that social workers, various agencies, attorneys, judges, and municipalities all conspired to deprive Plaintiff Indigo Freeman of her custodial and familial rights. Plaintiffs pray for an "order requiring the immediate return of Plaintiffs' seven minor children to the full and legal custody of the Plaintiffs' parents" and compensation in an amount exceeding $20,000,000.00 and any additional compensation the Court deems "just and equitable." (Doc. 1, p. 61).


A. Legal Standard for Screening

In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the Court uses the same pleading standard used 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). "[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." Id. (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. Id. "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 should be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Dismissal of a pro se complaint for failure to state a claim is proper only where it is obvious that the Plaintiff cannot prevail on the facts that he has alleged and that an opportunity to amend would be futile. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d at 1128.

A claim is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). A frivolous claim is based on an inarguable legal conclusion or a fanciful factual allegation. Id. A federal court may dismiss a claim as frivolous if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or if the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id.

B. Plaintiff's Complaint

Although not entirely clear, Plaintiffs' complaint appears to allege constitutional violations that arose from the taking of her minor child J.F. and other unnamed children on an unspecified date prior to October 19, 2011. Plaintiffs name sixty-eight defendants including: individual social workers from the Fresno County Department of Social Services, Fresno County Department of Children and Family Services, Valley Arts and Sciences, Youth Links, Fresno County Mental Health Services, Patient Advocates, Fresno County Guardian ad Litem Program, Cultural Brokers, CASA of Fresno, Fresno County Child Support, Fresno County Superior Court Administrative Office of the Courts, Fresno County Superior Court Judge, Fresno County District Court Judge, Fresno County Juvenile Court Judges, Court Appointed Attorney Karen Bantinque, Court Appointed Attorney Sam Kyllo, Court Appointed Attorney Brent Woodward, Assistant County Attorney Alicia Cobbs, Fresno County Public Defender Carmen Romero, Child Welfare Ombudsman, Fresno County Board of Supervisors, Fresno Police Department, Officer John Pinedo, Unidentified Associates of George Arnold Meyers, III, George Arnold Meyers, III aka Jorge, Foster Parent Pamela Hollins-O'Neal, Aunt Kiki, Savannah House, Professional Counselor Laurie Anderson, Mason Center, County Supervisor Assistant Patricia Pinedo ("Defendants"). (Doc. 1, 3-22). Plaintiffs indicate that all Defendants are sued in their official and individual capacities.

Plaintiffs allege seven causes of action including: (1) violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) Tortious Interference with Custodial Rights; (3) Fraud; (4) Breach of Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (5) Breach of Lawful Duty (Negligence); (6) Breach of Written, Oral and Implied Contract; and (7) Common Law Conspiracy under California Law. (Compl. p. 50-60).

In 63 single-spaced pages, Plaintiffs generally complain that while J.F. has been in protective custody, all named Defendants conspired to and intentionally and willfully violated Plaintiffs' fundamental constitutional rights by communicating with state actors in an effort to persuade said persons and entities that Plaintiffs were not fit custodians of their minor children. (Doc. 1).

C. Failure to Satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8

As a threshold, Plaintiffs' complaint fails to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which requires a plaintiff to "plead a short and plain statement of the elements of his or her claim, identifying the transaction or occurrence giving rise to the claim and the elements of the prima facie case." Bautista v. Los Angeles County, 216 F.3d 837, 840 (9th Cir. 2000).

Rule 8(d)(1) requires each allegation to be "simple, concise, and direct." This requirement "applies to good claims as well as bad, and is the basis for dismissal independent of Rule 12(b)(6)." McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 1996). "Something labeled a complaint but written more as a press release, prolix in evidentiary detail, yet without simplicity, conciseness and clarity as to whom plaintiffs are suing for what wrongs, fails to perform the essential functions of a complaint." Id. at 1180. "Prolix, confusing complaints . . . impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges." Id. at 1179.

Moreover, a pleading may not simply allege a wrong has been committed and demand relief. The underlying requirement is that a pleading give "fair notice" of the claim being asserted and the "grounds upon which it rests." Yamaguchi v. United States Dep't of Air Force, 109 F.3d 1475, 1481 (9th Cir. 1997). Despite the flexible pleading policy of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). A plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt facts which defendant engaged in to support plaintiff's claim. Id. at 649. A complaint does not suffice "if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). The United States Supreme Court has explained:

While, for most types of cases, the Federal Rules eliminated the cumbersome requirement that a claimant "set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim," Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957) (emphasis added), Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a "showing," rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the ...

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