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Phanvongkham v. Moultrie

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 12, 2017




          Barbara A. McAuliffe, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Sisomphone Phanvongkham and Felicia Navarro are proceeding pro se and have been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this action. (Docs. 2, 3). Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint is currently before the Court for screening.


         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by persons proceeding in pro per. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiffs' Complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Pro se litigants are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121-1123 (9th Cir. 2012), Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010), but to survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.


         Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) is extremely difficult to read. See “Plaintiffs (ProSe) individual self litigants First Amend Summery Complaints against the same parties, defendant respondent client alt parties REFERENCE to other jurisdiction procedural small claim action appeal division de-novo court trial for defendants respondents alt parties alleged allegation False Claim Action Nature of Suit” (Doc. 9).[1] The allegations contain many incoherent and indecipherable sentences, with little detail about the exact actions of the Defendant.

         Despite this, as best the Court can gather, Plaintiffs' allegations concern an eviction dispute in the Fresno County Superior Court. Plaintiffs allege that the sole Defendant, Melissa Moutrie, submitted false evidence in an effort to pursue an unlawful detainer action against Plaintiffs for unpaid rent. Plaintiffs' subsequent eviction or “constructive eviction” therefore amounted to an unlawful or retaliatory eviction. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages in an unspecified amount for the unlawful eviction.


         As an initial matter, the Court must determine whether it has the authority to consider the claims alleged. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and lack inherent or general subject matter jurisdiction. Federal courts can adjudicate only those cases in which the United States Constitution and Congress authorize them to adjudicate. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375 (1994). To proceed in federal court, Plaintiffs' Complaint must establish the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. Federal courts are presumptively without jurisdiction over civil actions, and the burden to establish the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377, 114 S.Ct. at 1677. Lack of subject matter jurisdiction is never waived and may be raised by the court sua sponte. Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Products, Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594595 (9th Cir. 1996). “Nothing is to be more jealously guarded by a court than its jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is what its power rests upon. Without jurisdiction it is nothing.” In re Mooney, 841 F.2d 1003, 1006 (9th Cir. 1988), (per curiam), overruled on other grounds in Partington v. Gedan, 923 F.2d 686, 688 (9th Cir. 1991) (en banc). There are two bases for original federal subject matter jurisdiction: 1) diversity jurisdiction and 2) federal question jurisdiction.

         Here, Plaintiffs do not specify which theory they are proceeding on, federal question or diversity jurisdiction. However, a review of the First Amended Complaint reveals it should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under both theories.

         A. No ...

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