United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO
HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Daniel Kristof Lak (“Plaintiff”), proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a
Complaint alleging violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well
as various federal and state laws. As discussed below, the
Court dismisses the Complaint with leave to amend.
September 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Complaint against
defendants California Department of Child Support Services
(“DCSS”), DCSS County of Orange (“DCSS
Orange”), Steven Eldred in his individual and official
capacities (collectively, “Defendants”), and Does
1 through 20. ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1,
Compl. at 1. The Complaint sets forth fourteen causes of
action. Id. at 1-2.
alleges two “Civil Rights” claims for violation
of due process pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section
1983”) for not providing prior notice and opportunity
to respond, and racial discrimination pursuant 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000d (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) based
on denial of benefits. I9d. at 1, 25-30.
alleges three claims under Title IV-Part D of the Social
Security Act that enforces child support payments for
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 629a(a)(2)(B), 42 U.S.C.
§ 666(a)(7), and 42 U.S.C. §
666(a)(10). Id. at 1, 30-37.
alleges two federal criminal claims for “Mail
Fraud” under 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and
“Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (RICO) pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§
1961-1968” based on placing “fraudulent
correspondence” in the mail. Id. at 1, 39-41.
alleges the following seven state claims: “Fraud”
under Section 3294 of the California Civil Code;
“Defamation” under Section 44(a) of the
California Civil Code; intentional infliction of emotional
distress; malicious prosecution; intentional interference
with contractual relations; negligent interference with
prospective economic relations; and negligence. Id.
at 1-2, 37-39, 41-49.
alleges that beginning in May 2010 Defendants continuously
and intentionally enforced incorrect child and spousal
support orders, despite court orders modifying his amount of
support. Id. ¶¶ 16, 39, 52, 64, 100.
Plaintiff claims Defendants falsely levied Plaintiff's
personal checking accounts, and wrongfully took amounts from
his Social Security Disability Income on multiple occasions.
Id. ¶¶ 29-30, 47, 98-99. Plaintiff alleges
DCSS denied him benefits on the basis of his status as a
Caucasian male. Id. ¶¶ 26-27, 140.
alleges Defendants “continually and arbitrarily
suspended” Plaintiff's driver's license and
California State Bar (“State Bar”) licenses based
on incorrect support orders and false information without
prior notice or opportunity to be heard. Id.
¶¶ 27-28, 49, 75, 127. Plaintiff alleges each time
the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) or State
Bar notified him of his licenses' suspensions, Defendants
“force[d] Plaintiff to sign an increased support amount
in order to get his licenses back.” Id. ¶
128. Plaintiff claims his State Bar license was
“suspended over 20 times for non-payment of child
support” through Defendants' “false
notif[ications] . . . that Plaintiff [wa]s delinquent on his
child support obligations.” Id. ¶¶
alleges as a result of Defendants' wrongful actions,
Plaintiff lost his home, car, driver's license, and State
Bar license, thereby “preventing him from earning a
living” and “result[ing] in Plaintiff becoming
homeless, living in the streets, suffering from severe
depression, anxiety, and [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder]
PTSD.” Id. ¶¶ 10-11, 13-15, 78, 87,
125-26, 139, 153, 175.
result of these claims, Plaintiff seeks actual and
compensatory damages, punitive damages, and a protective
order preventing Defendant from “further harassing
Plaintiff with unjustified collection activity, making any
defamatory statements” including, statements of
Plaintiff's “alleged support delinquency
status” to the DMV, State Bar, various credit reporting
agencies, and Plaintiff's future employers “without
a finding of substantial justification” before an
appointed Special Master. Id. ¶¶ 261-64.
Plaintiff also seeks an order “directing Defendant to
immediately retract and correct any previously made
defamatory statements” regarding Plaintiff including,
statements made to the DMV, the State Bar, and various credit
reporting agencies. Id. ¶ 265. Plaintiff
further seeks an order for a “full and comprehensive
audit, by a tribunal of competent jurisdiction (i.e., the
Department of Justice), of Defendant's policies,
procedures, and practices” within the past ten years.
Id. ¶ 266.
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court
must screen the Complaint and is required to dismiss the case
at any time if it concludes the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B);
see Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th
determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim for
screening purposes, the Court applies the same pleading
standard from Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(“Rule 8”) as it would when evaluating a motion
to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
See Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir.
2012). Under Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim
“where there is no cognizable legal theory or an
absence of sufficient facts alleged to support a cognizable
legal theory.” Zamani v. Carnes, 491 F.3d 990,
996 (9th Cir. 2007). In considering whether a complaint
states a claim, a court must accept as true all of the
material factual allegations in it. Hamilton v.
Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892-93 (9th Cir. 2011). However,
the court need not accept as true “allegations that are
merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or
unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec.
Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Although a
complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, it
“must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Cook v. Brewer, 637 F.3d 1002, 1004
(9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)). A claim is
facially plausible when it “allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. The complaint
“must contain sufficient allegations of underlying
facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to
defend itself effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652
F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011).
document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally
construed, ' and a ‘pro se complaint,
however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.'” Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886,
889-90 (9th Cir. 2008). However, liberal construction should
only be afforded to “a plaintiff's factual
allegations, ” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 330 n.9, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 339 (1989), and the
Court need not accept as true “unreasonable inferences
or assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of
factual allegations, ” Ileto v. Glock Inc.,
349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2003).
court finds the complaint should be dismissed for failure to
state a claim, the court has discretion to dismiss with or
without leave to amend. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d
1122, 1126-30 (9th Cir. 2000). Leave to amend should be
granted if it appears possible the defects in the complaint
could be corrected, especially if the plaintiff is pro
se. Id. at 1130-31; see also Cato v. United
States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). However, if,
after careful consideration, it is clear a complaint cannot
be cured by amendment, the court may dismiss without leave to
amend. Cato, 70 F.3d at 1107-11; see also Moss
v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 972 (9th Cir. 2009).
THE ELEVENTH AMENDMENT BARS ALL CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANT
Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from hearing
suits brought against an unconsenting state.”
Brooks v. Sulphur Springs Valley Elec. Coop., 951
F.2d 1050, 1053 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing Pennhurst State
Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100, 104
S.Ct. 900, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984)). “[A]n entity with
Eleventh Amendment immunity is not a ‘person'
within the meaning of § 1983.” Howlett By
& Through Howlett v. Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 365, 110
S.Ct. 2430, 110 L.Ed.2d 332 (1990). This jurisdictional bar
includes “suits naming state agencies and departments
as defendants, ” and it applies whether plaintiffs
“seek damages or injunctive relief.”
Id.; Pennhurst State Sch., 465 U.S. at 102.
Under the Eleventh Amendment, private parties may not sue
state officials in their official capacities in federal court
on the basis of state law. Pennhurst State Sch., 465
U.S. at 106 (“[I]t is difficult to think of a greater
intrusion on state sovereignty than when a federal court
instructs state officials on how to conform their conduct to
state law.”). As to state claims, for sovereign
immunity purposes, it is irrelevant whether plaintiff's
state law claims to relief are “prospective or
Plaintiff attempts to sue DCSS. However, DCSS is an agency of
the State of California entitled to sovereign immunity under
the Eleventh Amendment. See Allison v. Cal. Adult
Auth., 419 F.2d 822, 822-23 (9th Cir. 1969); see
also Greenlaw v. Cty. of Santa Clara, 125 Fed
App'x 809, 810 (9th Cir. 2005) (“[T]he California
Department of Child Support Services . . . [is] a state
agency entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh
Amendment.” (citing In re Pegasus Gold Corp.,
394 F.3d 1189, 1191 (9th Cir. 2005))). Thus, Plaintiff is
barred from bringing any claims against defendant DCSS.
PLAINTIFF FAILS TO COMPLY WITH THE PLEADING REQUIREMENTS OF
RULE 8 OF THE FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 (“Rule 8”), a
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
and “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and
direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), (d). “[T]he
‘short and plain statement' must provide the
defendant with ‘fair notice of what the plaintiff's
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Dura Pharms., Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 346, 125
S.Ct. 1627, 161 L.Ed.2d 577 (2005). “Experience teaches
that, unless cases are pled clearly and precisely, issues are
not joined, discovery is not controlled, the trial
court's docket becomes unmanageable, the litigants
suffer, and society loses confidence in the court's
ability to administer justice.” Bautista v. Los
Angeles Cty., 216 F.3d 837, 841 (9th Cir. 2000).
complaint may be dismissed for violating Rule 8 even if
“a few possible claims” can be identified and the
complaint is not “wholly without merit.”
McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 1996)
(stating Rule 8's requirements apply “to good
claims as well as bad”); see also Cafasso v. Gen.
Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1059 (9th Cir.
2011) (discussing cases Ninth Circuit affirmed Rule 8
dismissals); Hearns v. San Bernardino Police
Dep't, 530 F.3d 1124, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2008)
Supreme Court has held, Rule 8(a) “requires a
‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of
entitlement to relief.” See Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Plaintiff's complaint must contain
enough facts to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, ” allowing “the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
Plaintiff sues DCSS Orange as a “governmental agen[cy]
charged with the enforcement of child support obligations,
” and sues defendant Eldred for “acting under
color of law as [d]efendant [Eldred] is employed by, and is
Director of, the governmental agency charged with the
enforcement of child support obligations in the State of
California and is organized under the laws of the State of
California.” Compl., ¶¶ 5-6, 8. However,
Plaintiff refers ...