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Moussavi v. Zahedy

United States District Court, S.D. California

May 10, 2017



         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, an indispensable party must be joined to an action, claims grounded in fraud must be pled with particularity, and all claims must be pled with plausibility. Ryan Moussavi didn't meet any of those requirements. He failed to add his brother to the action, didn't provide the particulars of loans obtained through fraud, and made implausible claims-for example, he maintains that his stepmom engaged in racketeering when she provided marijuana to her husband who was battling brain cancer. The Court dismisses the action.


         Five years ago, Bijan Moussavi deeded his sons Ryan and Bryndon Moussavi “equal shares” of two rental properties in Kansas where the brothers live.[1] A few months later, Mr. Moussavi developed brain cancer. Ryan's stepmom, Shahnaz Zahedy, cared for Mr. Moussavi in his Carlsbad home for the next two years. Ryan says Zahedy's sister, Maryan Farsi Johny, also moved into the house and helped care for Mr. Moussavi.

         The remainder of the Complaint tells a confusing, inchoate story. Ryan maintains that his stepmom and her sister, “in addition to providing medications” to Mr. Moussavi, began giving him “marijuana to keep Decedent heavily incapacitated at all times.”The Defendants used the marijuana to persuade Mr. Moussavi “to assist them in their unlawful intentions to take and wrongfully withhold money from Plaintiff.” Apparently, Ryan is claiming that his stepmom and her sister would provide Mr. Moussavi marijuana, and once the cannabis kicked-in, they would convince Mr. Moussavi to call Ryan to request money for medical care. Ryan says these requests resulted in two “loans.”[2]

         1. The $80, 000 Loan

         Ryan says he loaned the Defendants $80, 000 “to help with Decedent's costs.” Defendants paid back $50, 000, but still owe him $30, 000. He maintains that a week after his dad died, he wrote to his stepmom demanding repayment, and she “agreed and affirmed her duty to pay Plaintiff back” “upon the sale of real estate.” Ryan doesn't offer any other details about this agreement.[3]

         2. The $160, 000 Loan

         Ryan also says the Defendants told him that his dad “needed money to pay medical bills.” Ryan “quickly agreed to loan Defendants the rental income” from the two Kansas properties. Ryan says it was his “understanding that all Rental Income loaned to Defendants would be paid back” after his dad died. Ryan doesn't offer any other details about this agreement either.

         Instead, Ryan says the Defendants didn't use “the loaned money as agreed” because they spent it on “controlled substances.” He also maintains that the Defendants collected “monthly paychecks” from the renters “even after Mr. Moussavi” died, despite Ryan “asking them to desist and to return the rental income.” In total, Ryan says he's owed $166, 150.[4]

         3. The $2 million Personal Property

         Finally, Ryan says that after his dad died, he “became entitled to certain personal items.” Ryan demands “recovery of those certain personal items of Decedent, including but not limited to, the Iranian birth certificate or $2, 000, 000.” Ryan doesn't say what the personal items are, why he's entitled to the items, or how he estimates the items' worth at $2 million.[5]

         Ryan commenced this action about two years ago. He's on his third complaint. And the Court ordered him to show cause for failure to prosecute after he let the case sit dormant for about nine months. Despite all that time, he failed to join his brother Bryndon to the action. Both parties agree Bryndon is an indispensable party since he allegedly has a right to half of the rental income. The Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint.

         Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss, plaintiffs must “nudge[] their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). But here “the complaint as a whole must satisfy the heightened pleading requirements of Rule 9(b)” since it alleges a “unified fraudulent course of conduct.” Vess v. Ciba-Geigy Corp. USA, 317 F.3d 1097, 1106 (9th Cir. 2003).


         The Court dismisses the Complaint on three independent bases. First, for failure to plead claims grounded in fraud with particularity under Rule 9(b). Second, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). Third, for failure to join an indispensable party under Rule12(b)(7).

         A. Particularity

         “When an entire complaint . . . is grounded in fraud and its allegations fail to satisfy the heightened pleading requirements of Rule 9(b), a district court may dismiss the complaint.” Vess, 317 F.3d at 1107 (9th Cir. 2003). Ryan alleges that his stepmom and her sister engaged in a “fraudulent scheme” by claiming they needed money to cover Mr. Moussavi's medical bills, but instead used the money to buy marijuana. Ryan also maintains that his stepmom lied to the renters in Kansas by claiming she was the “rightful beneficiary” of the rental income.[6]

         Allegations “of fraud must be accompanied by the ‘who, what, when, where, and how' of the misconduct charged.” Id. at 1106. Ryan doesn't offer these details. The Complaint doesn't explain who, specifically, was a party to the loan agreements; what the terms were; or when, where, and how the agreements were made. The Complaint also lacks any details about the alleged misrepresentations that the Defendants made to Ryan and the renters-the Court has no idea who said what and when.

         Instead, Ryan argues that there isn't any “doubt that the facts as pleaded are peculiarly within the knowledge of Defendants.” The Court disagrees. If anyone knows who Ryan spoke to, what Ryan spoke to them about, and when Ryan spoke to them, it's Ryan. The Court dismisses the ...

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