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Sobayo v. Public Storage

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 26, 2013



SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

Now before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss, strike, or for a more definite statement. Plaintiff has filed an opposition to which defendant has replied. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court determines that the matter is appropriate for resolution without oral argument and VACATES the hearing currently scheduled for August 2, 2013.[1] Having considered the parties' papers, and for good cause shown, the Court DISMISSES plaintiff's complaint WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND, for the reasons discussed below.


This is the second federal action arising from a dispute between pro se plaintiff Nathaniel Sobayo and defendant Public Storage over plaintiff's non-payment for a self-storage unit. See Public Storage v. Sobayo, et al., C12-05263-SBA (N.D. Cal.). After plaintiff failed to pay rental fees for the unit, Public Storage sued him in a California small claims court. See Def's. Request for Judicial Notice ("RJN"), Ex. 11. Sobayo removed the action to federal court, but Judge Armstrong promptly remanded to state court because there was no federal subject matter jurisdiction. Id. Sobayo filed a motion to set aside the order remanding the case, which Judge Armstrong denied on February 13, 2013. RJN, Ex. 22.

Without disclosing the prior action, plaintiff filed this action in this Court on April 19, 2013. See Dkt. 1-2. His complaint, which is substantially similar to the "Counter-Complaint" he filed in the prior action, see RJN, Ex. 7, alleges that after renting storage space, he was effectively denied access to his space because the elevator leading to it was broken. Compl. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that he made several unsuccessful attempts to get Public Storage to fix the elevator. Id. Because the broken elevator prevented him from accessing his unit, plaintiff contends that he did not "owe one red cent" in storage rental fees to Public Storage. Id. Plaintiff alleges that "for months now" Public Storage has "held hostage and converted" his property based on claiming unpaid rents, which plaintiff alleges are not properly owed. Id. As of the date plaintiff's first action was remanded to state court, Public Storage asserted that he owed $642.55 in unpaid rent. RJN, Ex. 11.

Based on these allegations, plaintiff alleges that Public Storage has violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act"), 15 U.S.C. § 44 et seq.), and committed unlawful conversion. Defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that the complaint consists of vague and conclusory allegations - most of which have been parroted from an unrelated case, USA v. Asset Acceptance LLC, 8:12-CV-00182-JDW-EAJ (M.D. Fla.) - that do not state or support a cognizable claim for relief.


Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must 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). This "facial plausibility" standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up to "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While courts do not require "heightened fact pleading of specifics, " a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.

In deciding whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must assume that the plaintiff's allegations are true and must draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Usher v. City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the court is not required to accept as true "allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008).

If the Court dismisses the complaint, it must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. The Ninth Circuit has "repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.'" Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d 494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995)).


1. Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Plaintiff alleges that Public Storage is holding his property in violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. Compl. at 3. He also alleges, without elaboration, that Public Storage is doing so "UNDER THE COLOR OF LAW." Id. at 2.

The Fourth Amendment protects only against governmental conduct and not against searches or seizures by private persons not acting on behalf of a governmental agency. Burdeau v. McDowell, 256 U.S. 465 (1921); United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984). There are no allegations in plaintiff's complaint that Public Storage is a government agency, or acting at the direction of one. Accordingly, plaintiff fails to state a Fourth Amendment claim. Moreover, the Court finds that leave to amend is futile because it is entirely implausible that a private self-storage company ...

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