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Hendrix v. Berkeley Farms Inc

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 22, 2018

BERKELEY FARMS INC., et al., Defendants.




         On February 13, 2018, Plaintiff Clinton Hendrix filed a Complaint and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. Compl., Dkt. No. 1; Appl., Dkt. No. 3. A district court may authorize the start of a civil action in forma pauperis if the court is satisfied that the would-be plaintiff cannot pay the filling fees required to pursue the lawsuit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Plaintiff submitted the required documentation demonstrating he is unable to pay the costs of this action, and it is evident from the Application that his assets and income are insufficient to enable him to pay the fees. See Appl. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.

         However, as no party has consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the Clerk of Court shall REASSIGN this case to a District Judge, with the recommendation that the Complaint be DISMISSED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

         SUA SPONTE SCREENING UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         A. Legal Standard

         While the Court has granted Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, it must also review Plaintiff's Complaint to determine whether the action may be allowed to proceed. The Court must dismiss the Complaint if it is frivolous, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). To make this determination, courts assess whether there is a factual and legal basis for the asserted wrong, “however inartfully pleaded.” Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984) (quotation omitted). Pro se pleadings are liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). Moreover, 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 v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). Unless it is clear that no amendment can cure the defects of a complaint, a pro se plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is entitled to notice and an opportunity to amend before dismissal. Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

         B. Allegations in the Complaint

         Plaintiff appears to allege he is suing on behalf of Teamsters 853. Compl. at 1 (naming only “Teamsters 853” as plaintiff); id. at 4 (“Both Berkeley Farms Management & Teamsters 853 will be served. Then, Teamsters will represent with Attorney. I must serve both parties.”). He names as Defendants in the caption Berkeley Farms Inc. and Dean Foods. Compl. at 2. He alleges his case belongs in federal court because it involves the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). Id.

         In his statement of facts, Plaintiff lists the following: “Breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of covenant [of] good faith and fair dealing[], assault and battery, forklift accident, defective parts.” Id. at 3-4. He alleges he has been on disability since 2011, and that his disability was caused by Berkeley Farms. Id. at 4. Under a claim entitled “wrongful termination, ” he alleges that Berkeley Farms unlawfully terminated him in November 2011 because of work-related injuries. Id. at 5. He also alleges “robbery 2nd degree, assault & battery” based on “events witness[ed by] safety manager & union.” Id. He names as a defendant to the robbery, assault and battery claims Peter Chewing, who was Superintendent. Chewing used excessive force and terrorized Hendrix in front of others on June 6, 2011; he also took Hendrix's personal property. Id. at 6. Plaintiff was scared for his life. Id. Plaintiff includes no further allegations to describe the factual basis for his claims.

         C. Analysis and Screening

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that the complaint set forth a “short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.” Rule 8(d)(1) requires that each allegation in a pleading be “simple, concise, and direct.” See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177, 1179 (9th Cir. 1996) (affirming dismissal of complaint that was “argumentative, prolix, replete with redundancy, and largely irrelevant”). In addition, the complaint must include facts which are “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007). For instance, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, the Supreme Court rejected conclusory assertions that “petitioners ‘knew of, condoned, and willfully and maliciously agreed to subject [him]' to harsh conditions of confinement ‘as a matter of policy, solely on the account of [his] religion, race, and/or national origin and for no legitimate penological interest.'” 556 U.S. 662, 680 (2009). The Court reasoned that such allegations were akin to the “formulaic recitation of the elements” dismissed in Twombly, and therefore, insufficient to meet Rule 8(a). Id. In doing so, the Court explained, “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678.

         1. No Federal Claims Stated

         Plaintiff alleges he disputes several decisions made by his former employer, and that he experienced a threatening incident at the hands of his former superintendent, but he fails to allege facts sufficient to state a claim under the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 141-197; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.; or any other ...

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