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Sameer v. Right Moves 4 U

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 22, 2018



         This dispute arises from the Defendants' alleged failure to deliver Plaintiff's personal possessions from her former residence in Fresno, CA to her current residence in New Zealand. Plaintiff's 110-page Second Amended Complaint (“2AC”) sought to allege multiple claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act” (“RICO”), as well as multiple California state law claims. See Doc. No. 13. In the Court's Order on Plaintiff's Motions (the “Dismissal Order, ” Doc. No. 87), Plaintiff's 2AC was dismissed for failure to provide a “short and plain statement” under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff, a pro se litigant, was granted leave to amend in order to cure the Rule 8 defects, address other violations of the Court's Local Rules, and fit her complaint into the Court-imposed page limit of 50 pages. Id.

         Plaintiff has filed her Third Amended Complaint (“3AC”), which also substantially fails to proffer a “short and plain statement” of her claims. See Doc. No. 93. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's 3AC will be dismissed with prejudice.

         A. Failure to Provide a Short and Plain Statement

         Legal Standard

         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. 8(a)(2). “[T]he ‘short and plain statement' must provide each 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 (2005). Rule 8(a) “requires a ‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Plaintiff's complaint must contain 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Complaints that are “argumentative, prolix, replete with redundancy, and largely irrelevant” and that consist “largely of immaterial background information” are subject to dismissal under Rule 8. Cafasso, U.S. ex rel. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1059 (9th Cir. 2011). A Rule 8 dismissal is allowed even if “a few possible claims” can be identified and even if the complaint is not “wholly without merit.” Id. at 1179 (stating Rule 8's requirements apply “to good claims as well as bad”). Complaints that fail to comply with Rule 8 “impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges” who “cannot use [such] complaint[s]” and “must prepare outlines to determine who is being sued for what.” Id. at 1179-80. “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. L.A. Cty., 216 F.3d 837, 841 (9th Cir. 2000).


         The core of the Court's Dismissal Order concerned Plaintiff's failure to proffer a short and plain statement of her RICO allegations in her 2AC. See Doc. No. 87. Therein, the Court informed Plaintiff that in a RICO action, a plaintiff must allege the following: “(1) conduct (2) of an enterprise (3) through a pattern (4) of racketeering activity (known as predicate acts) (5) causing injury to plaintiff's business or property.” Just Film, Inc. v. Buono, 847 F.3d 1108, 1116 (9th Cir. 2017); 18 U.S.C. § 1962. An “enterprise” includes “any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity.” 18 U.S.C. § 1961(4). A “pattern” requires the commission of at least two acts of “racketeering activity” within a ten-year period. 18 U.S.C. § 1961(5). Racketeering activities are also known as “predicate acts” under 18 U.S.C. § 1961. Eller v. EquiTrust Life Ins. Co., 778 F.3d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 2015); see also United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576, 582 (1981) (“The enterprise is an entity[.] The pattern of racketeering activity is, on the other hand, a series of criminal acts as defined by the statute.”).

Applying Rule 8, the Court found Plaintiff's 2AC to be neither short nor plain:
The 110-page 2AC contains 32 causes of action, as read from the section headers. 24 of these main headings allege RICO violations, many of which are lodged against “all Defendants, ” and most of which contain multiple subsections apparently alleging additional RICO claims.
Plaintiff does list nine predicate acts under federal law, in a section preceding her “causes of action, ” but then fails to mention these in most of her 22 RICO causes of action, instead citing back to, inter alia, the general RICO statute, other federal laws (sometimes completely irrelevant to her cause of action), California state law and various Restatements of the Law. Many of Plaintiff's claims appear duplicative, and though Plaintiff includes almost 300 paragraphs of factual allegations, it is near impossible to connect these facts to the elements of Plaintiff's claims.
The remaining eight “causes of action” appear to be styled as alleged violations of California common law: breach of contract, breach of duty of care, breach of fiduciary duty/conspiracy, equitable/promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, and “unfair competition.” Many of these sections, however, also have multiple sub-claims, each of which cites to various sources of law seemingly unrelated to the designated claim-some cite to the Restatements, some to wholly irrelevant statutes (i.e. 29 U.S.C. 1109, governing fiduciary duties for employee benefits). Many cite back to the RICO statute, leaving the Court with the impression that Plaintiff is attempting to use California common law as a predicate offenses for additional RICO claims.

See Doc. No. 87, pp. 5-6. The Court concluded that “the 2AC's incomprehensibility prevents this Court (and Defendants) from deciphering the factual and legal basis for each Defendant's alleged liability[;]” the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend. See Id. p.6.

         Plaintiff's 3AC, while slightly reformed, still fails to comply with Rule 8 at its most basic level. The 3AC contains seven “counts”, where Plaintiff divides the Defendants into individual entities or smaller sub-groups-the Court assumes this is Plaintiff's attempt to individualize her allegations in the “counts” section to each Defendant, instead of alleging claims against “all Defendants” (as was the case in the 2AC). See Doc. No. 93, at pp. 42-48. However, each “count” then incorporates by reference and refers back to the body of the 3AC, where Plaintiff sets forth no less than twenty-four ...

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