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Stone v. Freitas

United States District Court, Eastern District of California.

November 10, 2014





On August 12, 2014, Plaintiff Christopher M. Stone (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint against Betty Lorraine Freitas (“Defendant”), alleging Defendant had violated Plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) This complaint is screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff’s complaint be DISMISSED with prejudice and without leave to amend.


Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was a witness in a court trial in Stanislaus County Superior Court on August 14, 2013. (Doc. 1, 1-3.) Plaintiff claims that when testifying before the Court, Defendant perjured herself by making statements “materially different than statements she made in reports and other documents submitted to the court.” (Doc. 1, 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant intentionally perjured herself in the state custody proceedings “in order to deny plaintiff’s constitutionally protected liberty interest in parenting, and materially affected the outcome of the trial based on defendant’s perjury[.]” (Doc. 1, 2.) As a result, Plaintiff claims that he was denied his “right to a full and fair trial” and his “right to due process” was “materially affect[ed].” (Doc. 1, 2.)

Plaintiff identifies Defendant as a mediator, and alleges that she “appointed herself as child custody evaluator despite numerous complaints with the mediation department … and scheduled a date of 4/15/13 to conduct the evaluation.” (Doc. 1, 2.) According to the complaint, “defendant intentionally prevented plaintiff from participating by failure to create an order for plaintiff to appear and be evaluated until after the evaluation took place[.]” (Doc. 1, 3.) A court order was issued on 4/17/13, “us[ing] plaintiff’s failure to appear at the evaluation as a reason to impeach plaintiff’s credibility and deny plaintiff the right to appear and be evaluated by defendant[.]” (Doc. 1, 2.) Further, Defendant allegedly “failed to follow Local Rules of Court, and California Rules of Court regarding her evaluation, and did not attach police reports, cps reports, and generally did not create a report consistent with the rules that must be followed by child custody evaluators because the evidence adduced from her investigation would not support her conclusions.” (Doc. 1, 2.)

Defendant also apparently refused all contact with Plaintiff outside of court as is her “policy, custom and procedure” while having “ex-parte communication … with opposing counsel in violation of Rules of Court[.]” (Doc. 1, 2-3.) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “retaliated against plaintiff for having his wife serve defendant with a subpoena [by] determin[ing] that plaintiff’s wife was no longer a suitable supervisor of visitation.” (Doc. 1, 3.)

Defendant’s various alleged actions and perjurious statements “den[ied] plaintiff’s liberty interest in parenting …, as well as den[ied] plaintiff’s right to due process guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, and violat[ed] 42 U.S. 1983.” (Doc. 1, 3.) Plaintiff demands a jury trial and seeks $500, 000 in damages for “personal injury caused by and from violation of plaintiff’s civil rights, as well as compensatory damages, punitive damages, and any and all relief that is proper and just and would be supported by any law of the United States as a result of damage caused by defendant in violation of plaintiff’s 14th Amendment Right to Due Process.” (Doc. 1, 3-4.)


A. Screening Standard

In cases where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court is required to screen each case, and must dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue, or the Court determines that the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon 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). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir.1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir.1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint may not simply allege a wrong has been committed and demand relief. The pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[;]” the complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570). Further, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

Pro se pleadings are liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520–21, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.1988). Unless it is clear that no amendment can cure the defects of a complaint, a pro se plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is entitled to notice and an opportunity to amend before dismissal. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir.1987); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1230. If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the ...

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