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McCracken v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

April 20, 2017

ELLEN M. McCRACKEN, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK NA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT [Re: ECF Nos. 1, 3, 7-8]

          LAUREL BEELER United States Magistrate Judge

         OVERVIEW

         Plaintiff Ellen M. McCracken filed a complaint asserting federal-question and diversity jurisdiction. See (Compl. - ECF No. 1.)[1] The court previously granted her request to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 5.) She has filed several motions. (ECF Nos. 3, 7-8.) The events described in the Complaint seem to have happened in Oregon. The plaintiff writes, however, that she has found "no Remedy or Justice in Oregon" and so has filed suit here. (Compl. - ECF No. 1 at 11.)

         The complaint is confusing, ambiguous, and fails to state a claim for relief. The plaintiff generally alleges that she was evicted from her home, which was paid hi frill, and was later arrested for trespassing. (Id. at 2, 6.) She further alleges that she was sentenced to 10 days in jail for "filing a Motion in defense of [her] constitutional rights." (Id. at 7.) While it is not entirely clear, the plaintiff seems to allege mortgage-foreclosure fraud, discrimination, retaliation, neglect, and denial of procedural due process. She may also be claiming breach of fiduciary responsibility, mail fraud, and treason, among other things.

         Problems also plague her identification of defendants. Although the caption of her complaint lists only Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Shapiro & Sutherland LLC, and "State Officials acting under color of law, " as defendants (id. at 1), numerous others are mentioned within the discursive text of the complaint. For example, the plaintiff mentions the State of Oregon, Clackamas Comity, and court-appointed public defenders. In a separate filing, the plaintiff lists "parties designated & joined as defendants." (ECF No. 11.) Among the individuals and entities named there are: the "Social Security Administration"; "Non-Judicial Officers of the Court, & . . . contracted Security"; and at least four judges. (Id. at 1.) It is thus not clear who the defendants are, and it is even less clear which causes of action are alleged against which defendants.

         For the reasons more fully stated below, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court dismisses the complaint with leave to amend.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Sua Sponte Screening - 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         The court recently granted the plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 5.) A complaint filed by any person proceeding in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) is subject to a mandatory and sua sponte review and dismissal by the court to the extent that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Calhoun v. Staid, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Section 1915(e)(2) mandates that the court reviewing an in forma pauperis complaint make and rule on its own motion to dismiss before directing the United States Marshal to serve the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(c)(2). Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1127. The Ninth Circuit has noted that "[t]he language of § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)." Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998).

         Under Rule 12(b)(6) and § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint include a "short and plain statement" showing the plaintiff is entitled to relief. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (internal quotation omitted); see Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations, " but the plaintiff must "provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[mem]' to relief, " which "requires more than labels and conclusions"; a mere "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         In determining whether to dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is ordinarily limited to the face of the complaint. Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network, Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002). Factual allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and reasonable inferences drawn from them must be construed in favor of the plaintiff. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). The court cannot assume, however, that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged." Assoc. Gen. Contractors of Cal, Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). "Nor is the court required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         When dismissing a case for failure to state a claim, the Ninth Circuit has "repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130 (internal quotations omitted).

         2. The Complaint Does Not Adequately State a Claim

         The plaintiff here fails to allege "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Maybe more to the point, she has not offered "a short and plain statement of [her] claim[s] showing that [she] is entitled to relief" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). She has nowhere clearly tied facts to the requirements of some legal claim, or claims, to show that she has a facially viable action; nor has she tied specific claims to specific defendants - so that it is hard, if not impossible, to know exactly whom the plaintiff is suing for what. The complaint mostly operates at a high level, generally and summarily claiming that the defendants have wronged her and reproducing the text of various statutes. (Though, again, mostly without clearly linking definite facts to definite ...


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