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Hollingsworth v. Flinn Springs OA

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 2, 2017

FLINN SPRINGS OA, et al., Defendants.


          Hon. Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge

         JASON HOLLINGSWORTH (“Plaintiff”), a prisoner incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD”) in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, initiated this civil action in June 2016, by filing a complaint and “demand for trial” based on alleged violations of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff did not prepay the $400 civil filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); instead he filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) (ECF No. 2).

         I. Procedural Background

         On August 2, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed IFP, but sua sponte dismissed his complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) (ECF No. 5). Plaintiff was notified of his pleading deficiencies, however, and provided an opportunity to amend. (Id. at 5-10). He has since filed an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 6), which also requires screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). See Chavez v. Robinson, 817 F.3d 1162, 1167-68 (9th Cir. 2016) (noting § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) authorizes a court to dismiss a complaint that fails to state a claim sua sponte and “before defendants are served.”) (citing Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc)).

         II. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges essentially the same facts as his original. Cf. ECF No. 1 at 2-5. Specifically, he claims to have purchased a manufactured home from Defendant James Naill, and to have “entered into a contractual agreement” with Defendants Myra O'Leary, the Flinn Springs Owners Association, and Castle Breckenridge Management to lease a lot for his home in the Flinn Springs Mobile Home Park, in El Cajon, California (ECF No. 6 at 2-4.)

         “Upon [his] incarceration, ” however, Plaintiff contends Naill “unlawfully” transferred the title to his home over to Defendant O'Leary, the manager of Flinn Springs, and the Flinn Springs Owners Association (OA). (Id. at 4-6.) Plaintiff claims Defendants Elizabeth Call, Derek Earley, and Joseph Fox, all attorneys for Flinn Springs OA, and Defendant Castle Breckenridge Management Company, each “had a part [in] the illegal taking of [his] family home and property, ” and “conspired to commit fraud” and to “cover up the theft, ” even though they “should have known” this violated “all state a federal laws.” (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff demands a jury trial and $10 million in damages (Id.)

         III. Sua Sponte Screening per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         A. Standard of Review

         If a prisoner's complaint “seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” the Court “shall review” the pleading “as soon as practicable after docketing, ” and “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if [it] . . . is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b)(1); Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 907 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014).

         As noted below, Plaintiff alleges violations of his “civil rights” for alleged violation of “all California and United States federal laws, ” (ECF No. 6 at 1-3), but he seeks redress from private citizens, attorneys, his former home owners' association, and a property management company, none of whom are alleged to be governmental actors. Id. at 2. Therefore, § 1915A(a)'s screening provisions do not apply. See Chavez, 817 F.3d at 1168 (quoting § 1915A(a)); see also Thompson v. Hicks, 213 Fed.Appx. 939, 2007 WL 106785 at *3 (11th Cir. 2007) (noting that because a private defendant was not a “governmental entity” as described in § 1915A, prisoner's complaint as to that defendant was not subject to dismissal under § 1915A).

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding IFP, however, his Complaint is still subject to a sua sponte review, and mandatory dismissal, if it is “frivolous, malicious, fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek[s] monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief, ” regardless of whether he seeks redress from a “governmental entity.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); cf. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; Coleman v. Tollefson, 135 S.Ct. 1759, 1763 (2015) (pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that-(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal-(i) is frivolous or malicious; [or] (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.”); Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1127.

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, the 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) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” ...

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