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Riebeling v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 2, 2016

ADOLFO RIEBELING, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS & DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS’ FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          HON. KENLY KIYA KATO, United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Adolfo Riebeling and Marina Riebeling (“Plaintiffs”) have filed a pro se First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) pursuant to Title 42 of the United States Code, section 1983. Plaintiffs allege Defendants Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Does 1 through 10 violated Title 42 of the United States Code, Sections 1983 (“Section 1983”) and 1985(3) (“Section 1985(3)”). Defendant Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“Defendant”) filed a Motion to Dismiss the FAC (“Motion”), which the Court grants for the reasons below.

         II.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 5, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a civil rights complaint (“Complaint”) alleging Defendant violated (1) the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”); and (2) Plaintiffs’ civil rights under Sections 1983, 1985(3), and 1986. See ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl.

         On June 10, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the FAC alleging Defendant violated Plaintiffs’ civil rights under Sections 1983 and 1985(3). Dkt. 24, FAC. According to the FAC, Plaintiffs own real property in Hinkley, California. Id. at 6. Plaintiffs allege Defendant failed to remove hexavalent chromium from Hinkley’s aquifers and the aquifers have “connection via private individual water well . . . made by similarly situated Plaintiff(s).” Id. at 7. Plaintiffs further allege Defendant poisoned Hinkley’s aquifers “with URANIUM, in concentration way over 1000%, thus way over the EPA’s legal limits.” Id. at 14. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege Defendant caused the water beneath Plaintiffs’ real property, “the only source of ground drinking” water to be “poisoned with ARSENIC, and URANIUM, way over the Federal and State EPA’s legal limits.” Id. at 12. Plaintiffs claim to have suffered “irreparable harm health injuries as a direct result of being poisoned with toxic chemicals by Defendant’s operations.” Id. at 6.

         In addition, Plaintiffs allege Defendant “has performed CONCERTED, I[N]TERTWINED, AND JOIN[T] ACTIVITY’S ACTION with state actors” to poison water in Hinkley. Id. at 7. Plaintiffs further allege Defendant and state actors “conspired for the purpose of depriving Plaintiff(s) of equal protection of the law and for the purpose of preventing and hindering the constituted authorities from giving and securing to Plaintiff(s) equal protection of the law and deprivation of life, liberty and property without due process of law.” Id. at 10. Plaintiffs also allege Defendant was “a willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents” and violated Plaintiffs’ “constitutional rights under color of law, in bad faith, and with malicious purpose in reckless, wanton, and willful disregard of Plaintiff(s) human, safety, and property rights.” Id. at 4, 8. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages and costs. Id. at 16-17.

         On June 28, 2016, Defendant filed the Motion to Dismiss the FAC. Dkt. 25-1, Mot. Defendant argues: (1) the SDWA preempts Plaintiffs’ Section 1983 and 1985(3) claims; (2) Plaintiffs “allege neither membership in a protected class nor invidious discrimination” in their Section 1985(3) claim; (3) Plaintiffs fail to allege “they suffered injury as a result of [Defendant]’s concerted action with government actors” in their Section 1983 claim; and (4) Plaintiffs claims are untimely.[1] Id. at 2-8. On July 12, 2016, Plaintiffs filed an Opposition. Dkt. 30, Opp.; Dkt. 31, Decl.; Dkt. 32, Mem. Points & Authorities.[2] On July 21, 2016, Defendant filed a Reply. Dkt. 33, Reply. This matter is thus submitted for decision.

         III.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “where there is no cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable legal theory.” Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990, 996 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). In considering whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all of the material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). However, the Court need not accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Although a complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, it “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A claim is facially plausible when it “allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The complaint “must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011).

         “A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 889-90 (9th Cir. 2008) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The Court has “an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). If, however, a ...


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