United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
KENNETH B. QUANSAH, JR., Plaintiff(s),
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY & DISABILITY ADMINISTRATION, et. al., Defendant(s).
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS; GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO QUASH SERVICE OF PROCESS
[DOCKET ITEM NO(S). 7, 18]
EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge
Plaintiff Kenneth B. Quansah, Jr. ("Plaintiff") initiated the instant action on December 23, 2013, against three categories of defendants. The first category includes the Commissioner of the Social Security and Disability Administration and individual employees of the Social Security Administration's branch office in Campbell, California (collectively, the "Federal Defendants"). The second category includes the State of California Department of Social Services and Disability Determination Division and unknown administrators of that division (collectively, the "State Defendants"). The third category includes the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (the "VTA"), that agency's former general manager Michael Burns, and "unknown bus drivers, ticket sales representatives and ticket checkers" (collectively, the "VTA Defendants"). See Compl., Docket Item No. 1.
Presently before the court are two matters: (1) the Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) and (2) the VTA Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or alternatively to quash service of process, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5). See Docket Item Nos. 7, 18. Plaintiff has filed certain documents in response to these motions all of which the court has construed as his written opposition. See Docket Item Nos. 12, 14-16, 19-21.
Federal jurisdiction arises pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. The court finds these matters suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). The hearing scheduled for May 30, 2014, will therefore be vacated. Because the court finds the motions meritorious, both will be granted for the reasons explained below.
Liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint reveals the following facts. Plaintiff alleges the Federal Defendants refused to pay him disability benefits despite a prior evaluation by unidentified "State doctors" which qualified Plaintiff as disabled. See Compl., Docket Item No. 1, at 3:2-17. Based on documents submitted by the Federal Defendants, Plaintiff is most likely referring to a determination in 2010 by the Social Security Administration ("SSA") which designated Plaintiff as ineligible for disability insurance benefits under Title II for a non-medical reason; he had not worked long enough to qualify. See Decl. of Erika Leonard ("Leonard Decl."), Docket Item No. 18, at Ex. 1. Plaintiff filed a timely request for reconsideration of that determination in January, 2011. Id. at Ex. 2. That request apparently remains outstanding since a response from SSA could not be located. Id. at ¶ 8. SSA has scheduled an appointment for Plaintiff to discuss the matter. Id. at Ex. 3.
As to the VTA Defendants, Plaintiff alleges they "intentionally refused him services on its Buses and Light Rail Trains" even though he is a "state approved" disabled person. See Compl., at 4:13-19. He further alleges that he was "confronted with hostility" when he tried to ride on a bus or train and was denied the fare offered to disabled individuals despite identification showing that he is disabled. Id. at 3:23-4:6.
Based on these allegations, Plaintiff brings claims against all defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. He also asserts certain tort claims, including negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and harassment against all defendants.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
A Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenges subject matter jurisdiction and may be either facial or factual. Wolfe v. Strankman , 392 F.3d 358, 362 (9th Cir. 2004). A facial 12(b)(1) motion involves an inquiry confined to the allegations in the complaint, whereas a factual 12(b)(1) motion permits the court to look beyond the complaint to extrinsic evidence. Id . When a defendant makes a facial challenge, all material allegations in the complaint are assumed true, and the court must determine whether lack of federal jurisdiction appears from the face of the complaint itself. Thornhill Publ'g Co. v. General Tel. Elec. , 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979). "A party invoking the federal court's jurisdiction has the burden of proving the actual existence of subject matter jurisdiction." Thompson v. McCombe , 99 F.3d 352, 353 (9th Cir. 1996).
B. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5)
"A federal court does not have jurisdiction over a defendant unless the defendant has been served properly under [Rule] 4." Direct Mail Specialists v. Eclat Computerized Techs., Inc. , 840 F.2d 685, 688 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Murphy Bros., Inc. v. Mitchell Pipe Stringing, Inc. , 526 U.S. 344, 350 (1999) ("Service of process, under longstanding tradition in our system of justice, is fundamental to any procedural imposition on a named defendant."). Mere notice that a lawsuit is pending is not sufficient. Rohit Biochem Pvt. Ltd. v. Arya Group, Inc., No. CIV S-07-1575 FCD GGH, 2009 WL 1635175, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48740, at *3 (E.D. Cal. June 10, 2009) (citing Omni Capital Int'l, Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., Ltd. , 484 U.S. 97, 104 (1987)).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) permits a defendant to challenge the mode or method of service of the summons and complaint. Where the validity of service is contested, the burden is on the party claiming proper service to establish its validity. Cranford v. United States , 359 F.Supp.2d 981, 984 (E.D. Cal. 2005) (citing Grand Entm't Group, Ltd. v. Star Media Sales, Inc. , 988 F.2d 476, 488 (3d Cir. 1993)). If service of process is insufficient, the court may dismiss ...