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Oliver v. Superior Court of The State of California for The County of Placer

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 13, 2013

DAVID JEROME OLIVER SR., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE COUNTY OF PLACER, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

DALE A. DROZD, Magistrate Judge.

This matter came before the court on March 29, 2013, for hearing of defendant's motion to dismiss. Andreas Garza, Esq. appeared telephonically for defendant Placer County Superior Court. Plaintiffs Genesia Lei Aloha Oliver and Mary Oliver appeared telephonically on their own behalf. No appearance was made by, or on behalf of, plaintiffs David Oliver or Chalise Wilborn.[1] Oral argument was heard and the motion was taken under submission.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs commenced this action on October 30, 2012, by filing a complaint and paying the required filing fee. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiffs' complaint alleges claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against the Placer County Superior Court for abuse of process, the intentional infliction of emotional distress and false arrest. (Id. at 4-6.[2])

Counsel for defendant Placer County Superior Court ("defendant") filed the motion to dismiss now pending before the court on February 15, 2013. (Doc. No. 20.) Therein, defendant asserts that plaintiffs' complaint should be dismissed based on: (1) the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine; (2) Younger abstention; and (3) sovereign immunity. Plaintiffs' filed their opposition to the motion on March 4, 2013 (Doc. No. 22), and defendant filed its reply on March 19, 2013. (Doc. No. 23.)

STANDARDS

I. Legal Standards Applicable to Motions to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)[3] is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. N. Star Int'l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm'n , 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). "Dismissal can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A plaintiff is required to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court accepts as true the allegations in the complaint and construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Hishon v. King & Spalding , 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Love v. United States , 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). In general, pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). However, the court need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose , 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986). While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading is insufficient if it offers mere "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. See also Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 676 ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."). Moreover, it is inappropriate to assume that the plaintiff "can prove facts which it has not alleged or that the defendants have violated the... laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters , 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).

In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court is permitted to consider material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint, documents that are not physically attached to the complaint if their authenticity is not contested and the plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies on them, and matters of public record. Lee v. City of Los Angeles , 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001).

ANALYSIS

In their complaint plaintiffs allege as follows. On March 3, 2006, and May 22, 2006, the Placer County Superior Court[4] issued "illegal and unconstitutional" rulings in plaintiff David Oliver's child custody dispute. (Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 4.) On January 28, 2008, again the Superior Court issued an "illegal and unconstitutional" ruling by finding that plaintiff David Oliver violated a court order. (Id.) On August 25, 2009, the Placer County Superior Court issued an "illegal and unconstitutional" restraining order against plaintiff David Oliver. (Id. at 3.) On July 10, 2010, the Superior Court "issues an order of 22 Counts of Contempt of Court-Child Support Order" against plaintiff David Oliver. (Id.) In July of 2011, the Placer County Superior Court again issued a restraining order against plaintiff David Oliver. (Id.) On November 16, 2011, the Placer County Superior Court found that plaintiff David Oliver was a vexatious litigant. (Id.) On June 4, 2012, the Placer County Superior Court issued a "Lifetime Restraining Order" against plaintiff David Oliver. (Id. at 2-3.)

Plaintiffs' allege that as a result of the alleged misconduct on the part of the defendant Placer County Superior Court, plaintiff David Oliver was arrested and illegally imprisoned for 90 days. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiffs also alleged that the defendant's misconduct caused plaintiffs to suffer mental and emotional distress. (Id. at 5.)

Pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal district courts lack jurisdiction to review alleged errors in state court decisions. Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman , 460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983) (holding that review of state court determinations can be obtained only in the United States Supreme Court). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine "stands for the relatively straightforward principle that federal district courts do not have jurisdiction to hear de facto appeals from state court judgments." Carmona v. Carmona , 603 F.3d 1041, 1050-51 (9th Cir. 2010). See Dubinka v. Judges of Sup.Ct. , 23 F.3d 218, 221 ...


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