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Thomas v. Department of Child Support Services

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 4, 2018

TRACY THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On April 18, 2018, Plaintiff Tracy Thomas (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se filed a Complaint against defendants Department of Child Support Services (“DCSS”) and Santa Barbara County (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging violations of his constitutional rights. For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses the Complaint with leave to amend.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On April 18, 2018, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against Defendants alleging violations of his constitutional rights. ECF Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1. The Complaint is purportedly brought under 18 U.S.C. § 241[1] and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. While the facts underlying the Complaint are not clear, it appears Plaintiff is alleging a denial of equal protection and due process based on actions taken by Defendants in connection with an underlying child support case. Id. at 1-10. Plaintiff seeks termination of “the current DCSS IV-D Collections Case #1340153” and “all full refund of all monies received, accompanied with the DCSS's 66% federal profits therefrom, as well as penalties and interest.”[2] Id. at 10.

         III.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In civil actions where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, Congress requires district courts to dismiss the complaint “at any time” if the court determines the complaint, or any portion thereof: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

         Even when a plaintiff is not proceeding in forma pauperis, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a claim sua sponte and without notice “where the claimant cannot possibly win relief.” Omar v. Sea-Land Serv., Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987); see also Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 638 (9th Cir. 1988) (same). The court's authority in this regard includes sua sponte dismissal of claims against defendants who have not been served and defendants who have not yet answered or appeared. See Abagnin v. AMVAC Chemical Corp., 545 F.3d 733, 742-43 (9th Cir. 2008).

         In applying these standards, “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) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). However, “a pro se litigant is not excused from knowing the most basic pleading requirements” or “from following court rules.” Am. Ass'n of Naturopathic Physicians v. Hayhurst, 227 F.3d 1104, 1107-08 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231, 124 S.Ct. 2441, 159 L.Ed.2d 338 (2004) (“District judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.”).

         IV.

         DISCUSSION

         A. THE ELEVENTH AMENDMENT BARS ALL CLAIMS AGAINST DEFENDANT DCSS

         1. Applicable Law

         “The 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 ...


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