United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE [RE: ECF NO. 7]
LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.
On November 13, 2014, Plaintiff Charles Ivan King filed a complaint and an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1, 3.) Plaintiff consented to the undersigned's jurisdiction on December 1, 2014. (ECF No. 5.) On December 22, 2014, the court granted Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed his complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim that is plausible on its face. (Order, ECF No. 6.) The court gave Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint with instructions to "identify specific acts and say why (in his view) they amount to constitutional violations." (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint ("FAC") on January 21, 2015. (ECF No. 7.) For the reasons stated below, the court dismisses his first amended complaint without prejudice.
I. SUA SPONTE SCREENING - 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)
Notwithstanding payment of any filing fee or portion thereof, a complaint filed by any person proceeding in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) is subject to a mandatory and sua sponte review and dismissal by the court to the extent that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Section 1915(e)(2) mandates that the court reviewing an in forma pauperis complaint make and rule on its own motion to dismiss before directing the United States Marshal to serve the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(c)(2). Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1127; see also Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that the language of § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)). As the United States Supreme Court has explained, "[the in forma pauperis statute] is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989).
"Frivolousness" within the meaning of the in forma pauperis standard of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) are distinct concepts. A complaint is "frivolous" where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Id. at 325 (definition of "frivolous... embraces not only the arguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation"). When determining whether to dismiss a complaint as "frivolous" under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), the court has "the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations, '" meaning that the court "is not bound, as it usually is when making a determination based solely on the pleadings, to accept without question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992) (quoting Nietzke, 490 U.S. at 327). Further, the Ninth Circuit has expressly held that frivolous litigation "is not limited to cases in which a legal claim is entirely without merit.... [A] person with a measured legitimate claim may cross the line into frivolous litigation by asserting facts that are grossly exaggerated or totally false." Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 500 F.3d 1047, 1060-61 (9th Cir. 2007).
The court may also dismiss a complaint sua sponte under Rule 12(b)(6). Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 638 (9th Cir. 1988). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint include a "short and plain statement" showing the plaintiff is entitled to relief. "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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (internal quotation omitted); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but the plaintiff must "provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment]' to relief, " which "requires more than labels and conclusions"; a mere "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is insufficient. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
In determining whether to dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is ordinarily limited to the face of the complaint. Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network, Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002). The factual allegations pled in the complaint must be taken as true and reasonable inferences drawn from them must be construed in favor of the plaintiff. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). However, the court cannot assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts which [he or she] has not alleged." Assoc. Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). "Nor is the court required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).
When dismissing a case for failure to state a claim, the Ninth Circuit has "repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130.
II. THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FAILS TO STATE A CLAIM
Plaintiff alleges four different causes of action falling into two categories: (1) violations of Title VI; and (2) contract violations. (FAC, ECF No. 7 at 9-14.) The court will address these in turn.
A. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim Under Title VI
Plaintiff's first cause of action alleges that the defendant California Maritime Academy withheld his student loans in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (FAC, ECF No. 7 at 9.) To state a claim under Title VI, "a plaintiff must allege that (1) the entity involved is engaging in racial discrimination; and (2) the entity involved is receiving federal financial assistance." Fobbs v. Holy Cross Health Sys. Corp., 29 F.3d 1439, 1447 (9th Cir. 1994). "Unlike claims under the Equal Protection Clause which must plead intentional discrimination, Title VI claims need only allege that the defendant is engaging in discrimination, although a showing of intent is necessary at trial." Aguirre v. ...