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Murphy v. United States Postal Service

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 9, 2014

SHANNON O. MURPHY, SR., Plaintiff,


SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint is scheduled for hearing on September 19, 2014. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument and hereby VACATES the hearing. Having considered the arguments presented by the parties in the papers submitted to the Court, the Court hereby GRANTS defendant's motion to dismiss and dismisses the action without leave to amend.


On May 9, 2014, pro se plaintiff Shannon O. Murphy, Sr. filed this lawsuit against the United States Postal Service ("Postal Service") alleging premises liability, professional negligence, discrimination, and breach of contract arising from his denial of postal services at a United States post office. Docket No. 1, Compl. at 2. Plaintiff alleges the following: on January 14, 2014, from approximately 3:20 p.m. to 3:55 p.m., plaintiff visited a United States post office in Martinez, California to obtain postage for court papers in a case pending in the Superior Court of California. Id. at 3. After plaintiff entered the post office, a Postal Service clerk closed the service window and did not return during business hours despite being aware that customers were present, including plaintiff. Id. at 2. A sheriff's deputy eventually escorted plaintiff and others from the premises. Id. at 3. The incident caused plaintiff to suffer a panic attack, for which he was later diagnosed and treated at a hospital. Id. Plaintiff seeks to recover $24, 500.00 in damages for his alleged injuries. Id. at 4.

In a memorandum accompanying his complaint, plaintiff alleges that on April 4, 2014, he mailed a letter addressed to the postmaster of the Martinez post office requesting forms to submit an administrative claim with defendant. Id. at 5; see also Docket 13-1, Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. at 2. The memorandum alleges that on April 9, 2014, two Postal Service employees contacted plaintiff by telephone and denied his request. Id.

Defendant has brought the instant motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Docket No. 12, Def.'s Mot. at 2. Defendant alleges that plaintiff has not filed any administrative tort claims with the Postal Service. Id. at 7; see also Docket 12-1, Conny Beatty Decl. ΒΆΒΆ 4-5.


I. Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to challenge a federal court's jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(1). The party invoking the jurisdiction of the federal court bears the burden of establishing that the court has the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to grant the relief requested. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citation omitted). A complaint will be dismissed if, looking at the complaint as a whole, it appears to lack federal jurisdiction either "facially" or "factually." Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). When the complaint is challenged for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on its face, all material allegations in the complaint will be taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. NL Indus. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(1) motion that mounts a factual attack on jurisdiction, "no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims. Moreover, the plaintiff will have the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist." Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977).

II. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This "facial plausibility" standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up to "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Court must assume that the plaintiff's allegations are true and must draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Usher v. City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the Court is not required to accept as true "allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008).

III. Dismissal of Pro Se Complaints

Pro se complaints are held to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The complaints of pro se plaintiffs must be "liberally construed" and dismissal of a pro se complaint without leave to amend is proper only if it is "absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defect." Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980); Lucas v. Dep't of Corrections, 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995). Although the district court must provide a pro se plaintiff notice of the deficiencies of the complaint prior to dismissal, a pro se plaintiff must still allege facts sufficient to allow a reviewing court to ...

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