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Mattison v. Mattison

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 19, 2016

ROBIN F. MATTISON, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM C. MATTISON; REBECCA D. MATTISON, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT BE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE (DOCKET NO. 1)

          SHEILA K. OBERTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On July 5, 2016, Plaintiff Robin Mattison (“Plaintiff”), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this action against Defendants William Mattison and Rebecca Mattison (“Defendants”). (Doc. 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff’s complaint be DISMISSED with prejudice and without leave to amend.

         II. PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff alleges that his mother passed away in April 2011, leaving a will naming Defendant William Mattison as Executor and a life insurance policy worth $5, 000 naming Plaintiff as Beneficiary. Defendant William Mattison promised Plaintiff he would send payments totaling the value of the life insurance policy in regular increments, so as to not be appropriated by the prison system. Over the course of four years, Defendant William Mattison paid Plaintiff a total of $923.28, before ceasing communication. Plaintiff alleges Defendant William Mattison has breached his fiduciary duty to Plaintiff in violation of the “express trust” to pay Plaintiff the value of the life insurance policy.

         III. SCREENING STANDARD

         In cases where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court is required to screen each case, and must dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue, or the Court determines that the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint are capable of being cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

         A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint may not simply allege a wrong has been committed and demand relief. The pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[;]” the complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570). Further, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff Has Not Pled Any Cognizable Federal Claim

         Plaintiff seeks compensation for breach of an oral contract executed between himself and Defendants.

         Federal courts have no power to consider claims for which they lack subject-matter jurisdiction. Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986); see also Vacek v. United States Postal Serv., 447 F.3d 1248, 1250 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). Subject matter jurisdiction is determined and must exist at the time the complaint is filed. See Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Cal. State Bd. of Equalization, 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988) (looking to original complaint, and not amended complaint, for subject matter jurisdiction).

         This Court has an independent duty to consider its own subject-matter jurisdiction, whether or not the issue is raised by the parties, (id., ) and must dismiss an action over which it lacks jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3); see also Cal. Diversified Promotions, Inc. v. Musick, 505 F.2d 278, 280 (9th Cir. 1974) (“It has long been held that a judge can dismiss sua sponte for lack of jurisdiction.”). The burden is on the federal plaintiff to allege facts establishing that jurisdiction exists to hear her claims.

         Liberally construed, Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that he was harmed by Defendants’ failure to pay him the full value of a life insurance policy. At best, this is a state claim for fraud, breach of contract, and/or breach of fiduciary duty. Because Plaintiff has not articulated any cognizable federal claim over which this Court may assert jurisdiction, dismissal is recommended. Bend ...


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