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Taylor v. Golden Gate Fields

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 19, 2014

TYRONE T. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS, et al., Defendants.


PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Tyrone T. Taylor filed this action on January 28, 2014, against defendants Golden Gate Fields, The Stronach Group (which owns and operates the Golden Gate Fields racetrack), Mike Rogers (an employee of The Stronach Group), and the California Horse Racing Board ("CHRB"), asserting three claims of constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983[1] against the California Horse Racing Board, and possibly against the other three defendants, and asserting a state-law cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress against all defendants. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages "in excess of $20 million U.S. dollars, " and declaratory and injunctive relief.

Also on January 28, 2014, plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"), which was granted on January 29, 2014, apparently without the review required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The case was subsequently reassigned to the undersigned district judge. Because a proper § 1915(e)(2) review was not completed, the court hereby VACATES only the portion of the January 29, 2014 IFP order that directed that the United States Marshal serve the summons and complaint on defendants.

Further, the court DISMISSES the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) for failure to state a claim. The dismissal is with leave to amend, as set forth below. Before the summons and complaint can be served, plaintiff must file a viable complaint.

Finally, on February 13, 2014, plaintiff filed an application for a temporary restraining order ("TRO"), and also filed a motion to compel production of documents. Both the TRO application and the motion to compel are DENIED.


A. Legal Standard

The court may authorize a plaintiff to file an action in federal court without prepayment of fees or security if the plaintiff submits an affidavit showing that he or she is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). When a complaint is filed IFP, it must be dismissed prior to service of process if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages against defendants who are immune from suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also Franklin v. Murphy , 745 F.2d 1221, 1226-27 (9th Cir. 1984).

A complaint is frivolous for purposes of § 1915(e)(2) if it lacks any arguable basis in fact or in law. Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 328-30 (1989). A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law only if controlling authority requires a finding that the facts alleged fail to establish an arguable legal claim. Guti v. INS , 908 F.2d 495, 496 (9th Cir. 1990). Thus, a court may dismiss as frivolous complaints that recite bare legal conclusions without any supporting facts. Franklin , 745 F.2d at 1228; see also Tripati v. First Nat'l Bank & Trust , 821 F.2d 1368, 1370 (9th Cir.1987). The term "frivolous" embraces "not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation." Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 325; McKeever v. Block , 932 F.2d 795, 798 (9th Cir. 1991).

In reviewing a complaint for frivolity, a trial court may "pierce the veil" of the allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless." Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 327. In so doing, the assessment of the factual allegations must be weighted in plaintiff's favor. Denton v. Hernandez , 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992).

Where a litigant is acting pro se and the court finds the litigant's complaint frivolous within the meaning of § 1915(e)(2), the court must give the litigant notice of the deficiencies of the complaint and an opportunity to amend before final dismissal, unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment. Cato v. United States , 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995); Eldridge v. Block , 832 F.2d 1132, 1135-37 (9th Cir. 1987).

B. The Complaint

Plaintiff is a long-time patron of Golden Gate Fields, a horse racing facility located in Albany, California. He alleges that on December 28, 2013, he was waiting in line to enter the racetrack, along with 30-40 other patrons. He claims that the person standing in front of him offered to "take care of his admission" by allowing plaintiff to use A "Trainer's Card." After plaintiff entered using the "Trainer's Card, " he reached for a race program, but claims he was told by the "Gate Person" that he was not entitled to a program because he had used one of the "Trainer's Guest Credentials." Cplt ¶¶ 16-18

Plaintiff informed the Gate Person that he believed he was entitled to a program, whereupon he and the Gate Person became involved in a heated discussion, the gist of which appears to have been that plaintiff demanded that he be treated with courtesy and respect; and the Gate Person insisted that "You don't pay nothing, you don't get nothing." Cplt ¶¶ 19-20. In response, plaintiff asserted that he didn't "deserve to be treated as if I'm some ignorant Nigga" and that he was "tired just [as]... many other patrons, [of] being talked down to, disrespected and looked at in a contemptible low class manner, as if we are some ignorant Nigga' and I'm tired of you and others consistently talking down to us as if we are Ignorant Nigga's.'" See Cplt ¶ 21. Eventually, security personnel appeared on the scene, and further heated discussion ensued. Cplt ¶ 23. According to plaintiff, the security personnel ordered him to leave, based on the volume of his voice and his use of offensive language, and refused his request for a refund of his $10 parking fee. Cplt ¶ 23.

Plaintiff alleges that on December 31, 2013, he mailed written requests to each of the defendants herein, seeking "a meeting to resolve the alleged issues without the need of filing a complaint in regards to the issues on the face of the complaint." He asserts that he gave defendants until January 14, 2014 to respond, but that he had received no response as of the date of filing of the complaint. Cplt ¶¶ 24-26.

Plaintiff filed the complaint as a proposed class action, on behalf of a class defined as "all persons who have been unfairly ejected, expelled, psychologically harassed and intimidated by the Golden Gate Fields Security Department without at least a due ...

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