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Martinez v. Navy League of The United States

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 25, 2013



OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.


Plaintiff Dolores Martinez, proceeding pro se, alleges in her First Amended Complaint ("FAC") that she had a "trip and fall" accident while attending an event sponsored by Defendant Navy League of the United States ("Navy League"). (FAC ¶ 7.) This Court has subject-matter jurisdiction based on diversity under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). On October 21, 2013, Navy League filed the present Motion to Dismiss Martinez's FAC under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 41(b), or in the alternative, under Rule 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 24.) Subsequently, Martinez filed a Motion to Strike Defendant's Pleading, Strike Recast Complaint, and Serve Supplemental Pleading. (ECF No. 26.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Navy League's Motion to Dismiss and DENIES Martinez's Motion.[1]


Martinez is appearing pro se in this action. Her FAC lists one claim for personal injury against Navy League. (FAC ¶ 17.) She asserts that she was injured as a direct result of Navy League's negligence in violation of section 39933 of the California Government Code. (FAC ¶¶ 1-2.) This claim relates to Martinez's attendance at a Navy Week event at the Los Angeles Harbor on July 31, 2011, where she had planned to take a tour of the USS Abraham Lincoln. (FAC ¶ 13.) Martinez alleges that on her way to the aircraft carrier she was forced by the crowd to walk along the perimeter of the path, against a fence. (FAC ¶ 15.) She then alleges that she tripped over a bracket holding up the fence and sustained serious injuries. (FAC ¶ 20.)

Martinez filed her original Complaint on July 31, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) On September 19, 2013, the Court granted with leave to amend Navy League's Motion to Dismiss Martinez's original Complaint for non-opposition. (ECF No. 11.)

On October 3, 2013, Martinez filed her FAC, along with a "Request for Review of Recast Complaint". (ECF Nos. 16, 17.) The Court then struck as moot her "Request for Review, " since it had no legal foundation. (ECF No. 19.) Navy League filed the present Motion to Dismiss Martinez's FAC on October 21, 2013. (ECF No. 24.) Martinez subsequently filed her own Motion on November 4, 2013. (ECF No. 26.) She asks the Court to (1) "strike Defendant's pleading, " (2) "strike recast complaint, " and (3) to allow her to "serve supplemental pleadings." She filed no formal opposition to Navy League's Motion to Dismiss her FAC.


Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) 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 complaint need only satisfy the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2)-a short and plain statement-to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). For a complaint to sufficiently state a claim, its "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While specific facts are not necessary so long as the complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which the claim rests, a complaint must nevertheless "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

Iqbal 's plausibility standard "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, " but does not go so far as to impose a "probability requirement." Id. Rule 8 demands more than a complaint that is merely consistent with a defendant's liability-labels and conclusions, or formulaic recitals of the elements of a cause of action do not suffice. Id. Instead, the complaint must allege sufficient underlying facts to provide fair notice and enable the defendant to defend itself effectively. Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The determination whether a complaint satisfies the plausibility standard is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court is generally limited to the pleadings and must construe "[a]ll factual allegations set forth in the complaint... as true and... in the light most favorable to [the plaintiff]." Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). Conclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of fact, and unreasonable inferences need not be blindly accepted as true by the court. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). Yet, a complaint should be dismissed only if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts" supporting plaintiff's claim for relief. Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir. 1999).

In addition, pleadings of pro se litigants are held to less rigid standards than those drafted by attorneys . Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Yet, even pro se pleadings "must meet some minimum threshold in providing a defendant with notice of what it is that it allegedly did wrong." Brazil v. U.S. Dep't. of the Navy, 66 F.3d 193, 199 (9th Cir. 1995).


Martinez argues in her Motion that the filing of her FAC was "inadvertent" and that the Court should strike it. She also argues that Navy League's Motion to Dismiss is a "sham" and that the Court should allow her to re-file her FAC. (ECF No. 26 ¶¶ 1-3.) In the Motion to Dismiss, Navy League argues that the FAC should be dismissed under Rule 41(b) for failure to comply with a ...

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