Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cooney v. The California Public Utilities Commission

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 15, 2014

DEBORAH COONEY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS (Docket Nos. 26, 28)

CLAUDIA WILKEN, District Judge

Defendants the State of California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), CPUC President Michael Peevey and California Attorney General Kamala Harris (the State Defendants) and Defendant Itron, Inc. have filed motions to dismiss in this case.[1] Plaintiff opposes the motions as to Defendants Peevey, Harris and Itron. Acknowledging that her claims against the CPUC and the State of California are barred by the Eleventh Amendment, Plaintiff has filed a request that the Court dismiss her claims against the CPUC and the State of California without prejudice to refiling in state court. Having considered the parties' papers, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's request that the Court dismiss her claims against the CPUC and the State of California (Docket No. 36), GRANTS the State Defendants' motion to dismiss (Docket No. 26) and GRANTS Itron's motion to dismiss (Docket No. 28).

BACKGROUND

This case relates to Plaintiff's claims that she was injured by radio waves released by smart meters installed on her house and in her neighborhood. Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of these injuries, she has been "forced to take refuge in the National Radio Quiet Zone in Green Bank, WV" where she "sleeps in a cabin without electricity and can tolerate being in electricity for only a few hours a day." Complaint ¶ 1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated bans on human experimentation, fraudulently received federal funds, violated federal laws regulating pollutants, caused her personal injury, violated her civil rights, violated her constitutional rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth and Fourteenth amendments, committed battery and defrauded her. Plaintiff also alleges a defective product liability claim against Defendant Itron.

Plaintiff seeks over $120 million in damages, but states that her damages will be reduced to $20 million if injunctive relief is granted such that she is able to return to live in California. In addition to monetary damages, Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and an injunction requiring the replacement of all smart grid technology with the original analog equipment "until such time as a safe, reliable, and efficacious Smart Grid can be designed, manufactured, procured, properly tested for health and safety, and implemented; or until the people, through a referendum or through their elected representatives, decide to discard, disband, and dismantle the Smart Grid program." Complaint ¶ 125.

DISCUSSION

I. State Law Claims and Claims for Damages Against Attorney General Harris and CPUC President Peevey

Defendants Harris and Peevey argue that the claims against them are barred on several grounds. First, any claims for damages are barred by the Eleventh Amendment, which bars damages actions against state actors acting in their official capacity. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police , 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Flint v. Dennison , 488 F.3d 816, 824-25 (9th Cir. 2007). Moreover, the Eleventh Amendment bars any state law claims asserted against Defendants Harris and Peevey. Pennhurst State School & Hosp. v. Halderman , 465 U.S. 89, 121 (1984). The Court grants State Defendants' motion to dismiss on these grounds and bars any claims against Harris and Peevey for state law claims or for money damages. Because amendment would be futile, dismissal is without leave to amend.

II. Claims for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief Against Defendants Harris and Peevey

A. Defendant Harris

State Defendants next argue that the Eleventh Amendment also bars claims for prospective injunctive relief against Defendant Harris. As stated above, the Eleventh Amendment generally bars federal lawsuits against a state. However, Ex parte Young provides an exception for "actions for prospective declaratory or injunctive relief against state officers in their official capacities for their alleged violations of federal law." 209 U.S. 123, 155-56 (1908).

State Defendants argue that the Ex parte Young exception to the Eleventh Amendment does not apply to Defendant Harris because she has no connection to the implementation of the Smart Grid. Ex parte Young requires that the state official sued "must have some connection with the enforcement of the act." Id. at 157. The California Attorney General has only a general constitutional duty "to see that the laws of the state are uniformly and adequately enforced." Cal. Const. art. V, § 13.

Plaintiff counters that she wrote letters to Defendant Harris, notifying her of Plaintiff's concerns with the Smart Grid. Plaintiff asserts, "Since the Plaintiff did send a letter describing the circumstances to Defendant Harris personally, and Defendant Harris was and is the chief enforcer of the law in the State, responsible for ensuring that all State agencies and employees comply with law, then she had a reasonable duty to protect the Plaintiff." Plaintiff's Opposition, Docket No. 33 at 7. However, Plaintiff provides no authority for this proposition and the Court is aware of none.

Indeed, the Ninth Circuit has held that the connection "must be fairly direct; a generalized duty to enforce state law or general supervisory power over the persons responsible for enforcing the challenged provision will not subject an official to suit." Los Angeles County Bar Ass'n v. March Fong Eu , 979 F.2d 697, 704 (9th Cir. 1992). Here, Defendant Harris has only a generalized duty to enforce state law. She does not have any specific authority over the Smart Grid. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims for prospective injunctive ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.