United States District Court, S.D. California
GRANTING MAUREEN HALLAHAN AND PENNIE MCLAUGHLIN'S MOTION TO DISMISS; [ECF NO. 5]
(2) GRANTING THE DCSS DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS; [ECF NO. 14] (3) GRANTING
GOVERNOR BROWN'S MOTION TO DISMISS; [ECF NO. 16] (4) VACATING HEARING DATE
GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.
Before the Court are three motions to dismiss by: (1) Judge Maureen Hallahan and Commissioner Pennie McLaughlin (collectively, the "Judicial Defendants"); (2) Mia Cabrera, Natasha Esses, Dionne Mochon, Trac Pham, and the Department of Child Support Services (the "DCSS") (collectively, the "DCSS Defendants"); and (3) Edmund G. Brown, Jr. ("Governor Brown"). (ECF Nos. 5, 14, 16.) Plaintiff Chad Cowan ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, opposes all three motions. (ECF No. 19.)
The parties have fully briefed the motions. (ECF Nos. 5, 14, 16, 19.) The Court finds the motions suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Upon review of the moving papers, admissible evidence, and applicable law, the Court GRANTS all three motions to dismiss.
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 12, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the Judicial Defendants, the DCSS Defendants, and Governor Brown (the "Complaint"). (ECF No. 1.) On September 5, 2014, the Judicial Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 5.) On September 14, 2014, the DCSS Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 14.) On September 25, 2014, Governor Brown filed a motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 16.) On October 16, 2014, Plaintiff filed an opposition to all three motions to dismiss. (ECF No. 19.) On October 17, 2014, the DCSS Defendants filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition. (ECF No. 20.) On October 27, 2014, Judge Hallahan and Commissioner McLaughlin filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition. (ECF No. 22.)
While Plaintiff's complaint only specifies a "1st Cause of Action, " ( see Complaint, at 2:26), Plaintiff's complaint appears to allege numerous claims: (1) failure to defend Plaintiff's constitutional rights in violation California Constitution, article 20, section 3 by Governor Brown, Judge Hallahan, Commissioner McLaughlin, Mochon, Pham, and Esses; (2) declaratory judgment invalidating a contract for child support payment against; (3) violation of U.S. Constitution, article I, section 10 by Commissioner McLaughlin; (4) violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 241-242 by Commissioner McLaughlin; (5) violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights by Commissioner McLaughlin; (6) conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of liberty without due process by Esses and Commissioner McLaughlin; (7) failure to "reserve [P]laintiff's constitutional rights" by Commissioner McLaughlin; (8) failure to investigate a conspiracy by Governor Brown; (9) deprivation of liberty and constitutional rights by Esses and Judge Hallahan; (10) conspiracy to "force involuntary servitude" on Plaintiff by Esses and Commissioner McLaughlin; and (11) violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights by Commissioner McLaughlin, Judge Hallahan, Esses, Cabrera, and Governor Brown. (Complaint.)
Based on the language in the Complaint, the Court construes Plaintiff's first cause of action to contain three causes of action: (1) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, (2) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and (3) declaratory judgment invalidating the contract for child support based on fraud and duress.
III. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS
Plaintiff's allegations arise out of an underlying state judicial proceeding for child support. ( See ECF No. 1-2.) On approximately December 17, 2010, Plaintiff alleges that Judge Hallahan and the DCSS conspired to force him to sign "SDCSS document FL-610 contracting payment for child support" under duress. (Complaint, at 2:38-40.) On approximately October 23, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that Commissioner McLaughlin and Esses conspired to "order Plaintiff's participation participation and involuntary servitude to pay SDCSS without reserving Plaintiff's constitutional rights." ( Id. at 2:43-47.) On approximately January 8, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that Commissioner McLaughlin and Esses conspired "to again deprive plaintiff of liberty without due process." ( Id. at 3:60-66.) On approximately February 10, 2014, Plaintiff alleges that he informed Governor Brown of the conspiracy and that Governor Brown did not respond. ( Id. at 3:68-70.) On approximately March 6, 2014, Plaintiff alleges Judge Hallahan and Esses "threatened plaintiff with deprivation of liberty and of constitutional rights." ( Id. at 3:71-4:76.)
IV. LEGAL STANDARD
A. Judicial Notice
Generally, on a motion to dismiss, courts limit review to the contents of the complaint and may only consider extrinsic evidence that is properly presented to the court as part of the complaint. See Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001) (court may consider documents physically attached to the complaint or documents necessarily relied on by the complaint if their authenticity is not contested). However, a court may take notice of undisputed "matters of public record" subject to judicial notice without converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Id. (citing FED. R. EVID. 201; MGIC Indem. Corp. v. Weisman, 803 F.2d 500, 504 (9th Cir. 1986)). Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, a district court may take notice of facts not subject to reasonable dispute that are capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. FED. R. EVID. 201(b); see also Lee, 250 F.3d at 689.
B. Motion to Dismiss
A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984); see Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989) ("Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law."). Alternatively, a complaint may be dismissed where it presents a cognizable legal theory yet fails to plead essential facts under that theory. Robertson, 749 F.2d at 534.
While a plaintiff need not give "detailed factual allegations, " a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts that, if true, "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547). A claim is facially plausible when the factual allegations permit "the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. In other words, "the non-conclusory factual content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. ...