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Hankins v. Superior Court of California

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 12, 2014

STEPHANIE N. HANKINS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF STANISLAUS JUDGE JACK M. JACOBSON, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT PLAINTIFFS' SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT BE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE (Docket No. 10)

SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 25, 2012, Plaintiffs Stephanie N. Hankins ("S. Hankins") and Gary D. Reed ("Reed" or collectively "Plaintiffs"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this action against Defendant Stanislaus County Child Protective Services. (Doc. 1.) On January 16, 2013, the Court issued an order dismissing Plaintiffs' complaint and allowing them 30 days to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 7.) On February 13, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint ("FAC") against thirty-nine (39) Defendants (collectively "Defendants"). (Doc. 8.) On July 8, 2013, the Court issued an order dismissing Plaintiffs' FAC and allowing them 30 days to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 9.) On August 9, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint ("SAC") against an unidentified number of Defendants. (Doc. 10.)

For the reasons set forth below, the Court RECOMMENDS that Plaintiffs' SAC be DISMISSED with prejudice and without leave to amend.

II. BACKGROUND

As an initial matter, the caption on Plaintiffs' SAC does not identify all the Plaintiffs and simply lists "Stephanie N. Hankins, et al." as Plaintiffs. The caption also fails to identify all the Defendants and lists only "Superior Court of California, County of Stanislaus Judge Jack M. Jacobson; Melissa Manaig, in her official and unofficial capacity as an employee of Doctors Medical Center, et al." as Defendants. (Doc. 10, p. 1.)[1] The SAC, however, makes reference to Plaintiff Gary Reed and numerous additional Defendants throughout the complaint.[2] Due to Plaintiffs' failure to set forth all parties in the caption of the SAC, the identity of the parties in this case is unclear.

Additionally, Plaintiffs' allegations in the SAC are unclear, and it is difficult to discern the precise claims Plaintiffs are seeking to raise against what Defendants and the factual allegations that support those claims. Generally, Plaintiffs appear to allege that judges, social workers, police officers, doctors, nurses, other medical personnel, and others deprived Plaintiffs of their custodial and familial rights. Plaintiffs set forth allegations regarding judicial and other proceedings concerning custody of Plaintiffs' minor children. (Doc. 10.)

Plaintiffs bring their claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and allege causes of action under criminal codes 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 and 1035, as well as causes of action for fabricated evidence; false statements made under penalty of perjury by state actors; conspiracy against rights; withholding material evidence; violation of the Fourteenth Amendment regarding equal protection, due process, and search and seizure; violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment; violation of the Thirteenth Amendment prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude; and violation of the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses. (Doc. 10.) Plaintiffs pray for the safe return and physical custody of their minor children K.A.H., J.N.H., and J.J.H.; for the "Juvenile Court" to be ordered to dismiss the case In re K.M.R.H. and return full legal and physical custody of minor child K.M.R.H. to Plaintiffs; for Defendants "Judge Jack M. Jacobson, et al., be charged with crimes that said defendants have knowingly and willingly committed against plaintiffs"; for $20, 000, 000 "for pain and suffering, and emotional anguish"; and that Defendants "Judge Jack M. Jacobson, et al., be ordered to pay for any and all medical care, and mental health care[, ] needed by plaintiff[s], Stephanie Hankins, et al., in order to recover or help recover from the horrible crimes committed against the plaintiff[s]." (Doc. 10, pp. 54-55.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Screening Requirement

In cases where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court is required to screen each case and shall dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue or the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may 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).

B. 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).

C. The Parties in this Action are Not Clearly Identified

As noted above, the caption on the SAC does not clearly identify the parties. Plaintiffs are listed as "Stephanie N. Hankins, et al." (Doc. 10, p. 1.) However, the SAC makes repeated references to Plaintiff Gary Reed. ( See, e.g., Doc. 10, pp. 4, 9, 14, 15, 18-20, 28, 29, 31, 33, 36, 38-44, 46, 47, 49, 51, 53-55.) The listed Defendants are "Court of California, County of Stanislaus Judge Jack M. Jacobson and Melissa Manaig, in her official and unofficial capacity as an employee of Doctors Medical Center, et al" (Doc. 10, p. 1); however, the SAC refers to numerous additional Defendants. ( See generally Doc. 10.) The alleged claims also fail to identify which Defendants they are being brought against.

The Court notes that the caption on Plaintiffs' FAC identifies Plaintiffs and 39 total Defendants. (Doc. 8, pp. 1-3.) The Court, however, cannot reference the FAC in determining the parties in the SAC. Plaintiffs were informed that the amended complaint must be a complete pleading and were previously advised that:

an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896, 907 n.1 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc). The amended complaint must be complete in itself without reference to the prior or superseded pleading.' Rule 220 of the Local Rules of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California.

(Doc. 9, 10:14-17; see also Doc. 7, 4:4-7.) As such, Plaintiffs were informed they were required to clearly set forth the allegations in the amended complaint, which includes the identity of the parties and the specific claims being brought against the specific Defendants.

C. Plaintiffs' Factual Allegations are Unclear

The Court previously determined the factual allegations in Plaintiffs' FAC were vague and did not "clearly set forth the specific facts that support the specific claims against the specific Defendants." (Doc. 9, 4:9-20 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).) The factual allegations in the Plaintiffs' SAC remain difficult to discern and are even more confusing than the allegations previously set forth in the FAC. While Plaintiffs' FAC provided 62 paragraphs of facts in support of the claims alleged, Plaintiffs' SAC does not provide a separate fact section. ( See Docs. 8, 10.) Instead, Plaintiffs' SAC alleges numerous causes of action with allegations purporting to support each cause of action. The SAC neither identifies what claims are alleged against which Defendants, nor establishes which facts support what claim against an individual Defendant or how each Defendant allegedly deprived Plaintiffs of their rights. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (requiring a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief").

D. No Private Right of Action for Criminal Statutes

Plaintiffs allege causes of action under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 and 1035. Section 1001 is a criminal statute that provides in pertinent part:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of ...

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