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Golchini v. Members of Board of Trustees of California State University

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 10, 2015

HASSAN GOLCHINI, Plaintiff,
v.
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IFP AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT

WILLIAM H. ORRICK, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Docket No. 3. I have reviewed that application and GRANT it.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court must review complaints filed in forma pauperis to determine whether they are frivolous or fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). If the complaint is frivolous or fails to state a claim, the statute requires the Court to dismiss the case. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This case must be dismissed with prejudice as it is barred by res judicata because of plaintiff's prior legal actions and because of the implausibility of the allegations, if any, that are not barred.

DISCUSSION

I. RES JUDICATA

Under the Federal Full Faith and Credit Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1738, "a federal court must give to a state-court judgment the same preclusive effect as would be given that judgment under the law of the State in which the judgment was rendered." Migra v. Warren City School Dist. Bd. of Educ., 465 U.S. 75, 81 (1984); see Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. v. County of Santa Barbara, 604 F.3d 1142, 1148 (9th Cir. 2010) (same). There is no exception to the rules of issue and claim preclusion for federal civil rights actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Clark v. Yosemite Community College Dist., 785 F.2d 781, 788 n.9 (9th Cir. 1986). The Supreme Court has made it clear that a Section 1983 claim brought in federal court is subject to principles of issue and claim preclusion by a prior state court judgment. See Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 97-98 (1980) (issue preclusive effect in federal court of state proceedings is same as that accorded in state's own courts); Migra, 465 U.S. at 84 (extending rule of Allen to cover claim preclusion as well as issue preclusion).

A civil rights action under Section 1983 may be dismissed as barred by res judicata if a prior California state court judgment rendered a valid judgment on the merits in favor of a defendant. See Takahashi v. Bd. of Trustees, 783 F.2d 848, 850-51 (9th Cir.) ( citing Slater v. Blackwood, 15 Cal.3d 791, 795 (1976)), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1182 (1986). It does not matter that the plaintiff had no opportunity to litigate the claim in a federal forum. Hawkins v. Risley, 984 F.2d 321, 323 (9th Cir. 1993).

Under the "primary rights theory" in California, a federal court action will be barred by res judicata where it seeks relief for harm that is the same harm alleged in state court. See Maldonado v. Harris, 370 F.3d 945, 952-53 (9th Cir. 2004) (defining "primary right" as right to be free of the particular injury suffered); Clark v. Yosemite Community College Dist., 785 F.2d at 786 (claim precluded where § 1983 action implicates same primary rights to be free from interference with teaching activities and defamation). The "primary rights theory, " considers: "(1) [the] primary right possessed by the plaintiff, (2) [the] corresponding primary duty devolving upon the defendant, and (3) [the] harm done by the defendant which consists in a breach of such primary right and duty.'" Brodheim v. Cry, 584 F.3d 1262, 1268 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting City of Martinez v. Texaco Trading & Transp., Inc., 353 F.3d 758, 762 (9th Cir. 2003)). If this test is satisfied when considering the harms alleged in the first suit and the harms alleged in the second, then the same primary right is at stake even if in the later suit the plaintiff pleads different theories of recovery, seeks different forms of relief, or adds new facts supporting recovery. Id.

A. Plaintiff's Allegations and Claims in his Prior State and Federal Court Proceedings

In the complaint he filed in San Francisco Superior Court in March 2009, plaintiff sued the members of the board of trustees of the California State University (CSU), the Governor, the Lt. Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, the Superintendent of Education, the Chancellor of CSU, the President of San Francisco State University (SFSU), the Vice President for Student Affairs at SFSU, and individual SFSU employees (Flowers, Gaston, MacLaine, Czaja, Kleinberg, Valdez, Roston) as well as Kennedy Wilson Property Management Ltd. Complaint in CGC 09-486065, filed March 12, 2009. Plaintiff asserted 38 causes of causes of action for violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 & 1985 (violation of constitutional rights, including First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights); violation of various federal statutes (including Title VI, Title IX, and the Civil Rights Act); violation of the California Constitution; violation of California statutes (including FEHA, Penal Code and Education Code provisions); and common law claims for breach of contract (and related causes of action), defamation, fraud, malicious abuse of process, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Id.

The basis for his claims is alleged illegal conduct by employees at San Francisco State University from 2006 through 2008, which resulted in plaintiff's termination of employment at SFSU, being expelled as a graduate student from SFSU, and his eviction from housing owned, operated, or controlled by SFSU. Plaintiff also alleged that SFSU employees impermissibly started disciplinary proceedings against plaintiff and impermissibly applied the student code against him. He alleged that SFSU employees repeatedly broke into his apartment and car, stole his papers and computers, stole or illegally disposed of plaintiff's car, falsified criminal charges against him, and harassed and attacked him. Id.

The defendants filed a demurrer and the Superior Court sustained the demurrer with leave to amend. June 24, 2009 Order in CGC 09-486065. The Court dismissed plaintiff's claims because plaintiff failed to allege that he complied with the California Tort Claims Act (for claims seeking damages against state officials and employees); failed to state claims for which the state defendants were not immune from liability; and failed to clearly and concisely allege which acts each defendant was charged with committing. Id.

On June 25, 2009, plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint against the same defendants, but alleged only 18 causes of action under the Federal and California Constitutions (right to free speech, due process, and equal protection; as well as conspiracy, retaliation, and unreasonable search and seizure in violation thereof); illegal retaliation and expulsion under California law; violation of the Unruh Act; breach of contract; and tort claims. First Amended Complaint, CGC 09-486065, filed June 25, 2009. Defendants again demurred, and the Superior Court sustained the demurrer with leave to amend. October 1, 2009 Order. Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint on November 19, 2009, reasserting essentially the same factual claims and essentially the same causes of action. Defendants demurred and the Superior Court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend. July 26, 2010 Order. The Superior Court dismissed the case with prejudice because plaintiff failed to ...


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