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Vinson v. Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 2, 2016

BARBARA A. VINSON, 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

          HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge

         I.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Barbara A. Vinson and Lloyd K. Vinson (“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 March 18, 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 May 17, 2016, the Court dismissed the Complaint with leave to amend, finding the SDWA preempted Plaintiffs’ civil rights claims and Plaintiffs failed to state a SDWA claim. Dkt. 20, Order.

         On May 20, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the FAC alleging Defendant violated Plaintiffs’ civil rights under Sections 1983 and 1985(3). Dkt. 31, 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 “more than 25 connections . . . thus such Aquifer is construed as [a] ‘Public System Aquifer’.” 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 “Aquifer beneath Plaintiffs’ real property, the only source of ground drinking” water to be “poisoned wit[h] ARSENIC 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 Arsenic, concentration way over the Federal and State EPA’s legal limits in the ground drinking and potable water.” 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, 10. Plaintiffs further allege Defendant and state actors “conspired for the purpose of depriving Plaintiffs of equal protection of the law and for the purpose of preventing and hindering the constituted authorities from giving and securing to Plaintiffs 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 the color of law in bad faith and with malicious purpose in reckless, wanton, and willful disregard of Plaintiffs’ human, safety, and property rights.” Id. at 4, 8. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages and costs. Id. at 16-18.

         On June 3, 2016, Defendant filed the Motion to Dismiss the FAC. Dkt. 32-1, Mot. Defendant argues: (1) the SDWA preempts Plaintiffs’ Section 1983 and 1985(3) claims; (2) Plaintiffs fail to allege “membership in a protected class or 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; (4) Plaintiffs claims are untimely; and (5) Plaintiffs fail to state a SDWA claim.[1] Id. at 2-8. On June 13, 2016, Plaintiffs filed an Opposition. Dkt. 35, Opp.; Dkt. 36, Mem. Points & Authorities.[2]On June 23, 2016, Defendant filed a Reply. Dkt. 37, 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 ...


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