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Crews v. Parlier Unified School District

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 5, 2013

MURRAY CREWS, Plaintiff,


SANDRA M. SNYDER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Murray Crews, proceeding in forma pauperis and pro se , filed a complaint for declaratory relief on August 14, 2013, and amended it on August 19, 2013. Defendants include Parlier Unified School District "PUSD"); members of PUSD's Board of Trustees, Enrique Maldonado, Mary Helen Villanueva, Jose Reyes, Melissa Cano, and David Torres; Leticia Valadez, administrative secretary; Rene Rodriguez, athletic director of Parlier High School ("PHS"); Alberto Corrales, principal of PHS; Esperanza Zendejas, superintendent of PUSD; Martin Mares, assistant superintendent of PUSD, and Irma Regalado, business manager of PUSD. The undersigned has screened Plaintiff's complaint, finds Plaintiff's claims to be frivolous, and recommends dismissal with prejudice.

I. Screening Requirement

A court has inherent power to control its docket and the disposition of its cases with economy of time and effort for both the court and the parties. Landis v. North American Co. , 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936); Ferdik v. Bonzelet , 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir.), cert. denied , 506 U.S. 915 (1992). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court must dismiss any claim that (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. This Court screens all complaints filed by plaintiffs in propria persona .

In general, a complaint is frivolous "when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them." Denton v. Hernandez , 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). A complaint is malicious if it is not pleaded in good faith. Kinney v. Plymouth Rock Squab Co. , 236 U.S. 43, 46 (1915). A complaint's failure to state a claim is defined in F.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as one that does not satisfy the pleading standards under F.R.Civ.P. 8. Hill v. Lappin , 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010).

II. Factual Allegations

Jeremy Pierro, the assistant wrestling coach at PHS, retained Plaintiff to provide a wrestling clinic to the team on November 1, 2012. After Pierro e-mailed Plaintiff a sample invoice provided by James Mar, the head wrestling coach, on October 25, 2012, Plaintiff assumed that a properly prepared invoice would be the only documentation necessary to secure payment for his services. Upon arrival for the clinic, however, Defendant Leticia Valadez requested that Plaintiff complete IRS Form W-9 ("Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification"). Plaintiff refused, maintaining that since he was not a "U.S. person, " completing the form would constitute perjury. Plaintiff gave Ms. Valadez a copy of the statutes and regulations supporting his position which he had apparently prepared prior to his arrival. She directed him to the office of Defendant Rene Rodriguez.

Plaintiff also provided Mr. Rodriguez with materials supporting his claim, inserting a flash drive into Mr. Rodriguez's computer to outline the history of the legislation in which the definition of "U.S. person" was added to the definitional statute, 26 U.S.C. § 7701(a)(30). Meanwhile, Ms. Valadez called Defendant Irma Regalado, who told her that PUSD would not pay Plaintiff unless he provided a completed and signed Form W-9. Plaintiff again denied being a "U.S. person, " provided more documentation, and offered to execute an affidavit attesting to the fact that he was not a "U.S. person." Ms. Regalado stood firm, maintaining that if Plaintiff did not sign a Form W-9, PUSD would not pay him. Requiring the fee for the clinic to support his family, Plaintiff signed the Form W-9 "under duress." Later, he presented a prepared invoice for payment of his services. On November 28, 2012, Plaintiff received a check in full payment of his $1000.00 fee.

On February 2, 2013, Plaintiff received from PUSD a Form 1099-MISC reflecting the payment of his $1000.00 fee. Plaintiff responded with a letter to Ms. Regalado, explaining the law relevant to Form W-9 and requesting a corrected Form 1099 reflecting $0.00 reportable income. He enclosed a letter to be placed on school letterhead and signed under penalty of perjury, setting forth a series of yes-and-no questions intended to clarify that Plaintiff was not required to provide his social security number and a completed Form W-9 to PUSD, and an affidavit that he was not a "U.S. person."

When Plaintiff did not receive a corrected Form 1099 after the deadline for its filing with the IRS, he called PUSD and asked to speak to Defendant Esperanza Zendejas. Gloria Gonzalez, an assistant to the superintendent, took a message and told Plaintiff that Defendant Martin Mares would return the call within two days. Mr. Mares never called Plaintiff. On March 27, 2013, Ms. Regalado wrote to Plaintiff, explaining that, pursuant to federal law, PUSD was required to collect a Form W-9 from U.S. persons who perform services for the district and to issue a Form 1099 when compensation for those services exceeds $600.00. Accordingly, PUSD would not amend the Form 1099-MISC.

Plaintiff alleges that, although he is a United States citizen, he is not a U.S. person because he "did not then, and does not currently, have the control, receipt, custody, disposal, or payment of an item of income to a foreign person subject to withholding.'" Doc. 2 at 12.

III. Discussion

Plaintiff alleges five causes of action: breach of contract, negligence, failure to train, forcing Plaintiff to commit perjury, subornation of perjury, and issuance of a false 1099. All five are predicated on the validity of Plaintiff's belief that he is not a U.S. person under federal law. Plaintiff is wrong.

Plaintiff agreed to provide a wrestling clinic for Defendants' high school wrestling team for a $1000.00 fee. No written contract was prepared: Plaintiff was simply directed to submit an invoice to collect payment. Independent of the agreement between Plaintiff and PUSD, federal law imposes certain reporting and return ...

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