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Wright v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 16, 2015

LINDA ANN WRIGHT, PRO SE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ET AL., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND DENYING MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES

CHARLES R. BREYER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Linda Ann Wright ("Wright"), acting pro se, filed the instant action asserting approximately thirteen claims against sixty-six named defendants. See generally Compl. (dkt. 1). All defendants have filed joint or individual motions to dismiss[1] on various grounds. Wright also filed a motion for attorneys' fees. Mot. for Attorneys' Fees (dkt. 14).[2]

The Court hereby GRANTS all motions to dismiss raised by defendants and DENIES Wright's motion for attorneys' fees.[3]

I. BACKGROUND

On June 24, 2014, Wright filed suit in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking fifty million dollars in damages from an extensive list of defendants. Throughout her forty-two-page complaint, Wright unsystematically alleges myriad civil violations in her narration.[4] See Compl. at 1-42. Near the end of her complaint, Wright lists thirteen specific statutes under the heading, "CLAIMS." Compl. at 39:1-40:1. These claims include constitutional violations, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act violations, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violations, and others. Id.

The majority of events in Wright's complaint seems to focus on allegations that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA") has denied her veterans benefits, has destroyed her medical records, and has placed fraudulent information in her medical documents. Compl. at 6:2-11. At various points in her complaint, Wright alleges that all "defendants participated in Corrupting of [her] Files" and "defendants were deleteriously changing [her] Medical History." Compl. at 8:14, 8:24-25. Additionally, regarding her medical history, Wright alleges, "These Defendants created a stereotypical devious woman; with the use of these made up traits, [5] to show a person of low Character. Not [her]. [Her] benefits, have been paid to: Doctors whom are corrupt and Others; Whom reaped the benefits of [her] hard work. Where are the Law Enforcers?" Compl. at 12:21-28. As a final example of allegations regarding Wright's medical care, she alleges that one of her doctors made a "duplicitous statement that patient drinks fifth everyday.' Was dereliction of his duties as a Doctor; and Fraud." Compl. at 16:19-21.

Wright's complaint also alleges scattered facts concerning individual defendants other than her doctors or entities involved in her medical care. Compl. at 1-42. For instance, Wright alleges that defendant "Professional Photocopy represented themselves to [her] as Document Servers, while working with AMEX & County of Humboldt; State of CA; sabotaged [her] Filings: e.g. dark illegible copies, missing pages." Compl. at 33:4-6. Wright further alleges in her complaint that various unlawful actions were taken by various state and local entities and that her "Cat was poisoned, [her] mailbox was snatched (concrete and steel), [her] brother died, [her] health failed. Meanwhile Humboldt County Assessor, Humboldt Cty. Tax Collector, CA Board of Equalization, Superior Court of CA!Humboldt barraged [her] with fraudulent paperwork and threats; while Case CV11-04492 WHA, was in progress." Compl. at 33:20-34:1. As a final illustration of the array of allegations in Wright's complaint, she states under the heading, "TSUNAMI QUID PRO QUO, " apparently against all defendants, "When Federal, State, and Local Governments work together with Corporations and Others; to destroy an Individual. By violating the U.S. Constitution, and other laws; while cover-ups and corruption reigns." Compl. at 38:7-11.

Several defendants have filed motions to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and lack of personal jurisdiction. All defendants have cited failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in their motions to dismiss.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am. , 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Courts presume a lack of jurisdiction until the party asserting jurisdiction proves otherwise. Fifty Associates v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. , 446 F.2d 1187, 1190 (9th Cir. 1970). Dismissal of a case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) is proper when a plaintiff fails to establish the court's subject matter jurisdiction. Ashoff v. City of Ukiah , 130 F.3d 409, 410 (9th Cir. 1997).

In addition to subject matter jurisdiction, due process requires federal courts to possess personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant such that rendering judgment with respect to that defendant comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. International Shoe Co. v. Washington , 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). A challenge to personal jurisdiction is brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). Personal jurisdiction requires the court to have either general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia S.A. v. Hall , 466 U.S. 408, 411-15 (1984) ("Even when the cause of action does not arise out of or relate to the foreign corporation's activities in the forum State, due process is not offended by a State's subjecting the corporation to its in personam jurisdiction when there are sufficient contacts between the State and the foreign corporation.") (citing Perkins v. Benguet Mining Co. , 342 U.S. 437 (1952), and Keeton v. Hustler Magazine Inc. , 465 U.S. 770, 779-80 (1984)).

General jurisdiction arises when a plaintiff demonstrates that a non-resident defendant maintains continuous and systematic contacts that essentially render the defendant at home in the forum state. Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown , 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2852 (2011). Specific jurisdiction exists when a defendant maintains sufficient minimum contacts within a foreign jurisdiction. International Shoe Co. , 326 U.S. at 316. "Sufficient minimum contacts" tests the extent to which a defendant purposefully avails himself of the benefits and protections of the forum state in order for the exercise of jurisdiction to be consistent with fair play and substantial justice. J. McEntyre Mach. Ltd. v. Nicastro , 131 S.Ct. 2780, 2787 (2011).

A motion to dismiss based on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in a complaint. N. Star Int'l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm'n , 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). Because a Rule 12(b)(6) defense asserts a plaintiff's failure to meet the pleading requirements found in Rule 8(a), a claim is properly dismissed when the pleadings lack a cognizable legal theory or lack sufficient facts to support a cause of action. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept. , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). While Rule 8(a) merely requires a "short and plain statement" of facts showing entitlement to relief, the pleadings must maintain a level of detail that gives the defendant fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon which the claims rest. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a); Conley v. Gibson , 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). A plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Co. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Thus, a plaintiff must make allegations that rise above mere labels, conclusions, or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Id. at 555. Complaints that assert "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" under the facial plausibility standard set forth by Twombly. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

Allegations that are challenged by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Pareto v. F.D.I.C. , 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). In addition, pro se litigants are entitled to greater leeway in the interpretation of their pleadings. Brazil v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy , 66 F.3d 193, 199 (9th Cir. 1995). However, pro se pleadings must still meet a minimum threshold that provides defendants sufficient notice of the allegations against them. ...


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