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Corby v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 2, 2016

NOEL CORBY, Plaintiff,
v.
PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

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

          HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Noel Corby (“Plaintiff”) has filed a pro se First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) pursuant to Title 42 of the United States Code, section 1983. Plaintiff alleges 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 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed a civil rights complaint (“Complaint”) alleging Defendant violated (1) the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”); and (2) Plaintiff’s civil rights under Sections 1983, 1985(3), and 1986. See ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl.

         On June 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed the FAC alleging Defendant violated Plaintiff’s civil rights under Sections 1983 and 1985(3). Dkt. 26, FAC. According to the FAC, Plaintiff owns real property in Hinkley, California. Id. at 6. Plaintiff alleges 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. Plaintiff further alleges Defendant poisoned Hinkley’s aquifers “with URANIUM, in concentration way over 1000%, thus way over the EPA’s legal limits.” Id. at 14. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges Defendant caused the water beneath Plaintiff’s 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. Plaintiff claims 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, Plaintiff alleges Defendant “has performed CONCERTED, I[N]TERTWINED, AND JOIN[T] ACTIVITY’S ACTION with state actors” to poison water in Hinkley. Id. at 7. Plaintiff further alleges 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. Plaintiff also alleges Defendant was “a willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents” and violated Plaintiff’s “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. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and costs. Id. at 16-17.

         On June 28, 2016, Defendant filed the Motion to Dismiss the FAC. Dkt. 27-1, Mot. Defendant argues: (1) the SDWA preempts Plaintiff’s Section 1983 and 1985(3) claims; (2) Plaintiff “alleges neither membership in a protected class nor invidious discrimination” in the Section 1985(3) claim; (3) Plaintiff fails to allege “he suffered injury as a result of [Defendant]’s concerted action with government actors” in the Section 1983 claim; and (4) Plaintiff’s claims are untimely.[1] Id. at 2-8. On July 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed an Opposition. Dkt. 32, Opp.; Dkt. 33, Decl.; Dkt. 34, Mem. Points & Authorities.[2] On July 21, 2016, Defendant filed a Reply. Dkt. 35, 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 court finds that a pro se complaint has failed to state a claim, dismissal may be with or without leave to amend. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         THE SDWA PREEMPTS PLAINTIFF’S CIVIL RIGHTS CLAIMS UNDER ...


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