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Remington v. Mathson

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 20, 2017

BRUCE REMINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN MATHSON, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS Re: ECF 5, 8, 15

          JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge

         Before the Court are the Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendants John Mathson, Joy Mathson, Paul Brisso, Russell Gans, Nicholas Kloeppel, Ryan Plotz, Julie Gilbride, and Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney, and Vrieze, LLP (collectively, the “Mathson Defendants”), ECF No. 5, SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologists and Jeff Nelson, ECF No. 8, and City of Eureka and Boyd Davis, ECF No. 15.[1] The Court will grant the motions.

         I.BACKGROUND

         A.Factual Allegations

         This is an action for damages and injunctive relief under, inter alia, Federal and state environmental laws and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). ECF No. 1. The claims arise out of a dispute between two neighbors, Plaintiff Bruce Remington and Defendants John and Joy Mathson, who own adjoining land parcels in Eureka, California. ECF No. 1 at 78-79. Mr. Remington and the Mathsons' properties share a boundary of 300 feet, with Mr. Remington's property sitting below the Mathsons' property at an angle of between forty and seventy degrees. Id. at 79. The dispute began when the Mathsons had some excavation and construction performed on their property between 1998 and 2001. Id. at 78. Mr. Remington alleges that the Mathsons regraded (flattened) their land by installing large concrete blocks under it, taking about a third of an acre of soil from Mr. Remington's property, and placing the soil on top of the large concrete blocks. Id. at 78-80. One of these concrete blocks allegedly rolled downhill, causing damage to Mr. Remington's property and flattening some of his trees. Id. at 79-80.

         Mr. Remington further alleges that all defendants conspired to dump large amounts of toxic and hazardous waste on his property, which they then buried and concealed by placing decaying vegetation on the dumping ground. Id. at 78. Specifically, Mr. Remington alleges that major oil companies or their subcontractors paid defendant RAO Construction Inc. to dispose of the waste, and that all defendants created a “vast Class I landfill” on Mr. Remington's property rather than properly disposing of it, in order to cut costs and increase profits. Id. at 88-94. Consequently, Mr. Remington alleges that he is owed rent for storing the buried waste, which includes car engines, car parts, car oil, construction waste, asbestos, and other materials that have discharged hazardous contamination onto his property. Id. at 95-96. Additionally, Mr. Remington alleges that he, SHN Consulting Engineers and Geologists, and “the County” have each conducted a series of tests confirming “serious water & soil contamination” that results from the waste allegedly buried on his property. Id. at 99-102.

         Mr. Remington alleges that the Mathsons sought to intimidate and extort him by, among other things, training wild animals to enter and damage his property, and that defendant Gans, the Mathsons' attorney, encouraged and orchestrated this behavior. ECF No. 1-2 at 7-8. Mr. Remington also alleges that Mr. Gans “established an extortive racketeering enterprise” intended to appropriate Mr. Remington's land, destroy Mr. Remington, and destroy Mr. Remington's store - the Burl Tree. ECF No. 1-6 at 39.

         B. Procedural History and Related Cases

         On April 7, 2017, Mr. Remington filed this action pro se asserting claims for alleged violations of several Federal and California laws, including the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), the Victim and Witness Protection Act (“VWPA”), the False Claims Act (“FCA”), the RICO Act, the California Civil Code, and the California Business and Professions Code. ECF No. 1 at 1. Mr. Remington also asserts claims for private and public nuisance, continued trespass, unjust enrichment and restitution, negligence, negligence per se, tortious and intentional interference with contractual relations, damages, fraudulent intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy, criminal conspiracy, aiding and abetting, felony vandalism and trespass, and intentional evidence spoliation. Id.

         This is not the first case Mr. Remington has filed relating to his dispute with the Mathsons. He previously filed a complaint in this Court alleging essentially the same set of facts as in this case. Case No. 09-cv-4547 NJV, ECF No. 1; see also Remington v. Mathson, 42 F.Supp.3d 1256, 1263-74 (N.D. Cal. 2012), aff'd, 575 F. App'x 808 (9th Cir. 2014). Mr. Remington asserted the following claims in that complaint: “1) CWA violation for discharges from five water point sources; 2) RCRA violation for discharge of hazardous wastes under 42 U.S.C. Section 6972(a)(1)(A); 3) RCRA violation for handling, storage, treatment, transportation or disposal of solid or hazardous waste presenting an imminent and substantial danger to health or the environment under 42 U.S.C. Section 6972(a)(1)(A); 4) CERCLA violation for discharging hazardous materials; 5) EPCRA violation for failing to report the release of hazardous substances; 6) trespass for dumping substances onto Plaintiff's property and the resulting discharge in Plaintiff's surface and groundwater; 7) nuisance resulting from Defendants' contamination of Plaintiff's property and construction of a fence partially on Plaintiff's property; 8) negligence and negligence per se from Defendants' contamination of Plaintiff's property, and from Defendant's drainage pipes.” Remington, 42 F.Supp.3d at 1258. Mr. Remington “requested a declaration that Defendants violated the CWA, RCRA, CERCLA, and EPCRA” and that “the Court order Defendants to clean up their property and Plaintiff's property; enjoin Defendants from storing, disposing, or discharging hazardous substances; order Defendants to comply with CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements; impose civil penalties for CWA and RCRA violations; and enjoin other conduct by Defendants.” Id. at 1258, 1280.

         On March 14, 2012, the defendants filed a status report notifying Judge Vadas that the Department of Public Health of Humboldt County (“DPH”) had conducted an investigation of the subject property to identify any hazardous waste and found none. Case No. 09-cv-4547 NJV, ECF No. 91 at 1-2. The DPH found “that the fill placed on the Mathsons' property does not constitute solid waste, and the County found no violation of hazardous waste statutes or regulations.” Id. By Order dated March 27, 2012, Judge Vadas granted summary judgment on Mr. Remington's Federal claims. Remington, 42 F.Supp.3d at 1280. Judge Vadas declined to retain jurisdiction over Mr. Remington's remaining state law claims and dismissed them without prejudice to Mr. Remington's assertion of those claims in state court.[2] Id.

         II.LEGAL STANDARD

         Defendants move to dismiss Mr. Remington's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). This rule requires that a complaint contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Rule 8(a) has ‘been held to be violated by a pleading that was needlessly long, or a complaint that was highly repetitious, or confused, or consisted of incomprehensible rambling.'” Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1059 (9th Cir.2011) (quoting Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, 5 Federal Practice & Procedure § 1217 (3d ed. 2010)). When a pro se plaintiff has filed a complaint, courts must “construe the pleadings liberally and . . . afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir.2010) (quoting Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n. 1 (9th Cir.1985)). Nonetheless, courts may not supply essential factual elements that have not been pled. Ivey v. Bd. Of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). When a court grants a motion to dismiss, it is normally required to supply pro se litigants with “an opportunity to amend the complaint to overcome deficiencies unless it is clear that they cannot be overcome by amendment.” Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1335-36 (9th Cir. 1987). Leave to amend should be liberally granted, but an amended complaint cannot allege facts inconsistent with the challenged pleading. Id. at 296-97.

         III. REQUEST FOR ...


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