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Shapiro v. Willowbrook Home, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 21, 2014

Joshua B. Shapiro
v.
Willowbrook Home, LLC, et al.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

JOHN E. McDERMOTT, Magistrate Judge.

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHY PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT BE DISMISSED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND

I.

Proceedings

On October 22, 2014, Joshua B. Shapiro ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Civil Rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Complaint"). (Docket No. 1.) Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court has screened the Complaint for the purpose of determining whether the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on 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).

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why his Complaint should not be dismissed without leave to amend, with prejudice as to Plaintiff's federal constitutional claims and without prejudice as to Plaintiff's claims under state law.

II.

Discussion

A. Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations.

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges federal and state law claims against Willowbrook Home LLC ("Willowbrook"), Uncle Dave's Housing, David Wohlman ("Wohlman"), Felicia Barbara Edelman ("Edelman"), Frank, Tom, and Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs Nowotny and Mejia (collectively, "Defendants"). (See Complaint at 1-4). Plaintiff's claims arise from an alleged eviction from an illegal boarding house in which Plaintiff claims to have been renting a unit (a room) from Defendants Willowbrook, Uncle Dave's Housing, Wohlman, Edelman, Frank, and Tom (the "premises"). The gist of the Complaint is that, on December 13, 2011, Plaintiff entered into an oral rental agreement with Uncle Dave's Housing to live at the premises, which are owned by Willowbrook, and satisfied rent payment covering the period from December 13, 2011, to January 13, 2012. (Complaint at 11-12.) Thereafter, Plaintiff complained to various county agencies concerning violations of state county and/or municipal laws occurring at the premises, including inter alia the "establish[ment] [of a boarding house] without an approved conditional use permit from [the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning]." (Complaint at 14-16.) On January 8, 2012, Plaintiff absented himself from the premises in the morning hours, and returned to find all of his property had been confiscated by Defendants Willowbrook, Uncle Dave's Housing, Edelman, Wohlman, Frank, and Tom. (Complaint at 18.) Moreover, Defendants Tom and Frank confronted Plaintiff and told him he needed to vacate the premises immediately. (Complaint at 18.) Plaintiff refused to vacate the premises. Defendants Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs Nowotny and Mejia "responded to a call" and were "instructed" by Defendants Wohlman, Edelman, Frank, and Tom, to remove Plaintiff from the premises. (Complaint at 19.) Plaintiff told Defendants Nowotny and Mejia that he could not be evicted without Defendants Willowbrook, Uncle Dave's Housing, Wohlman, Edelman, Frank, and/or Tom "taking him to court and evicting him by a valid writ of execution, i.e., unlawful detainer action." (Complaint at 20.) Defendants Nowotny and Mejia told Plaintiff he had no lawful right of possession or occupancy in the premises, and "forced [him]... to vacate or be placed under arrest for trespassing." (Complaint at 20.) Defendants Nowotny and Mejia told Plaintiff "he would go straight to jail if he did not vacate the property immediately." (Complaint at 20.) Plaintiff complained to Defendants Nowotny and Mejia that all his personal property was missing. (Complaint at 20.) Defendants Wohlman and Edelman explained that "they instructed defendant[s] Frank and Tom to store [said property in a storage garage] and lock it up until the Plaintiff was off the property." (Complaint at 20.) "Plaintiff was forced by defendant deputies Nowotny and Mejia to just grab what he could[.]" (Complaint at 20.) Defendant Frank handed Plaintiff two black garbage bags containing some but not all of Plaintiff's personal property. (Complaint at 21.) Plaintiff complained to Defendants Tom, Frank, Wohlman, and Edelman because not all of his property was in the black garbage bag. Defendant Wohlman responded, "fuck off, and [you] are not going to get it back", while Defendant Edelman stood by and "supported defendant Wohlman's remarks." (Complaint at 21-22.) When Plaintiff exited the premises, Defendant Wohlman approached Plaintiff with a pair of nail clippers belonging to Plaintiff and twisted the nail clippers and threw them in the dirt, saying "we're all friends with all the judges and legal professionals... good luck trying to sue us you little shit." (Complaint at 22.) On January 19, 2012, the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning issued a Notice of Violation indicating that an inspection of the premises disclosed the following violation: "A boarding house has been established without an approved conditional use permit from Regional Planning[.]" (Complaint at 16, Exh. D.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's rights to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment (Complaint at 22-35), conspired to violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights (Complaint at 36-38), and violated state law (Complaint at 39-126). Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Complaint at 127-28.)

B. Legal Standard.

In accordance with the provisions governing in forma pauperis proceedings, the Court must screen the Complaint before ordering service to determine whether the action: (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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This screening is governed by the following standards:

A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory; or (2) the plaintiff has alleged insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States , 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1988). However, "the liberal pleading standard... applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply ...


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