United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
June 10, 2015
KAILASH CHANDRA CHAUDHARY, Plaintiff,
DEBBIE SWANSON CENTI, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS (Re: Docket No. 16)
PAUL S. GREWAL, Magistrate Judge.
Defendant Debbie Swanson Centi moves for judgment on the pleadings as to Plaintiff Kailash Chandra Chaudhary's complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Because Chaudhary's claims are insufficiently alleged and fail as a matter of law, Centi's motion is GRANTED but with leave to amend as required by the Ninth Circuit.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) and 12(b)(6) are substantially identical; both permit challenges to the legal sufficiency of the opposing party's pleadings. The court must accept all material allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. The court's review is limited to the face of the complaint, materials incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which the court may take judicial notice. However, the court need not accept as true allegations that are conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.
Chaudhary's instant complaint marks the third time that he has attempted to challenge the loss of his parental rights, which he voluntarily relinquished in 1989 after he murdered his daughter's mother.
The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned magistrate judge under 28 U.S.C. §636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).
Choudhary's causes of action fail as follows.
First, Chaudhary's claims are barred by res judicata. The doctrine of res judicata provides that a final judgment on the merits bars further claims by the parties or their privies based on the same cause of action. It prohibits the re-litigation of any claims that were raised or could have been raised in a prior action. It is immaterial whether the claims asserted subsequent to the judgment were actually pursued in the action that led to the judgment; rather, the relevant inquiry is whether they could have been brought. The purpose of the doctrine is to "relieve parties of the cost and vexation of multiple law suits, conserve judicial resources, and, by preventing inconsistent decisions, encourage reliance on adjudication." Three elements must be present in order for res judicata to be applicable: (1) an identity of claims; (2) a final judgment on the merits; and (3) the same parties or privity between the parties. An identity of claims exists when two suits arise from the same transactional nucleus of facts. Two events are part of the same transaction or series of transactions where the claims share a factual foundation such that they could have been tried together. "Different theories supporting the same claim for relief must be brought in the initial action."
Chaudhary's claims were previously adjudicated by the Northern District of California in 1993 and the Santa Clara Superior Court in 2012. The Superior Court observed that the (dismissed) 1993 complaint made "virtually identical allegations against Defendant" and barred his claims. The Superior Court entered judgment in favor of Centi and was affirmed on appeal.
The 2012 Santa Clara County complaint alleges virtually identical facts and circumstances as alleged in this complaint. Indeed, the first paragraph of the complaint states: "Present Complaint was started on July 10, 2012, in the Superior Court of the Santa Clara County."
Second, Chaudhary's complaint fails to overcome the applicable three-year statute of limitations set forth in Cal. Code of Civ. P. § 338(a). Chaudhary's complaint states the case arose on January 18, 2012,  and repeatedly refers to events that occurred in 1989 and 1998. Chaudhary filed his complaint on February 18, 2015, outside the limitations period.
Third, Chaudhary's complaint fails to establish this court's subject matter jurisdiction. Federal district courts have federal-question jurisdiction "of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." An action "arises under" federal law only if the federal question appears on the face of the complaint. Chaudhary argues that his claims are for civil rights under the Constitution, but his complaint fails to plead any such civil rights.
Centi's motion for judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED. Dismissal without leave to amend is only appropriate if it is clear that the complaint could not be saved by amendment such as after a plaintiff's "repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed." Because Chaudhary has not previously amended his complaint and the court cannot yet say that amendment would be futile, leave to amend also is GRANTED. Any amended complaint shall be filed by June 23, 2015.