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Hayes v. Facebook

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 3, 2019

THOMAS HAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
FACEBOOK, et al. Defendant. THOMAS HAYES, Plaintiff,
v.
FACEBOOK, Defendant.

          THOMAS S. HIXSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND SCREENING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E)

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se Plaintiff Thomas Hayes currently has two cases pending before the Court, Hayes v. Facebook, 19-cv-1297-TSH, and Hayes v. Facebook, 19-cv-2106-TSH. In 19-cv-1297, Hayes named Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg as Defendants and alleged defamation. The Court dismissed the amended complaint in that action with leave to amend. On April 18, 2019 Hayes filed the complaint in 19-cv-2106-TSH, containing similar allegations and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. 19-cv-2106, Compl, ECF No. 1; Appl., ECF No. 3. The Court consolidated the two cases and requested clarification as to whether the complaint in 19-cv-2106 was meant to be the further amended complaint in 19-cv-1297. Hayes failed to respond. For the reasons that follow, the Court DISMISSES the 19-cv-1297 action. As to 19-cv-2106, the Court GRANTS the in forma pauperis application and finds the complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Accordingly, Hayes must file a first amended complaint in the 19-cv-2106 action that addresses the deficiencies identified in this screening order by August 2, 2019; otherwise, the Court will recommend dismissal of his complaint.

         II. THE 19-CV-1297 CIVIL ACTION

         A. Background

         Hayes filed the 19-cv-1297 action on September 12, 2018, originally in the District of Colorado. 19-cv-1297, ECF No. 1. In the amended complaint, Hayes sued Defendants Facebook and Zuckerberg for defamation concerning warnings Facebook posted about clicking on the links to Hayes's own website or his email address. Id., ECF No. 10. All parties consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in this action. Id., ECF Nos. 17, 32, 34.[1]

         As alleged in the amended complaint (id., ECF No. 10), Hayes owns Seventh Generation Fuels, LLC, a start-up company that aims to become an environmentally clean renewable energy producer. He owns three web pages (all at the domain wakute.wixsite.com) touting the company's exclusive licensing, brokering, contracting and leasing rights, as well as other business rights related to U.S. patent No. 9057024. Hayes joined Facebook on June 28, 2018 to promote his business and website, with the specific goal of enlisting Facebook users to write or help write a grant application for his business. He says the company needs to raise approximately $80, 000 in funding.

         Starting on July 10, 2018, Hayes discovered that when Facebook users click on the link to the wakute.wixsite.com website or on his email address (santeeseven@yahoo.com), Facebook displayed the message: “BLOCKED - We believe the link you are trying to visit is malicious. For your safety, we have blocked it.” Starting on September 22, 2018, the message changed to: “You Can't Go to This Link From Facebook. The link you tried to visit goes against our Community Standards.” Hayes refers to these as the “blocking messages.”

         Hayes alleged that these messages deter potential grant writers and investors from contacting him by suggesting they will get a computer virus if they do so. He seeks $80, 000 in damages for his inability to get a grant. He also seeks $30 million in damages for what he calls the administrative start-up costs listed in his company's 2018-19 business plan, or if that full amount is not awarded, 10% of it.

         On March 28, 2019, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss because the facts alleged in the amended complaint did not show that Facebook's alleged statements were about Hayes. Id., ECF No. 61 at 5. The Court also found that there were no allegations against Zuckerberg sufficient to name him as a defendant. Id. at 6. The Court gave Hayes 30 days to file a second amended complaint. Id.

         On April 18, 2019, Hayes filed a new case based on similar factual allegations, but with Facebook as the only named defendant. 19-cv-2106, ECF No. 1. Because the two cases involve common questions of fact and law, the Court consolidated them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42 and ordered Hayes to file a notice stating whether his April 18, 2019 complaint is (1) intended to be an amended complaint in his original case, 19-cv-1297, or (2) intended as a new case, separate from 19-cv-1297. 19-cv-1297, ECF No. 64; 19-cv-2106, ECF No. 6. To date, Hayes has failed to file an amended complaint in 19-cv-1297 and failed to respond to the Court's order requesting clarification.

         B. Legal Standard

         “Under Ninth Circuit precedent, when a plaintiff fails to amend a complaint after the district judge dismisses the complaint with leave to amend, the dismissal is typically considered a dismissal for failing to comply with a court order rather than for failing to prosecute the claim.” Yourish v. Cal. Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 986 (9th Cir. 1999). To determine whether to dismiss a case for failure to comply with a court order, a court weighs the following factors: (1) the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation, (2) the court's need to manage its docket, (3) the risk of prejudice to defendants, (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits, and (5) the availability of less drastic alternatives. Id. at 990 (citing Hernandez v. City of El Monte, 138 F.3d 393, 399 (9th Cir. 1998). Dismissal is appropriate “where at least four factors support dismissal . . . or where at least three factors strongly support dismissal.” Hernandez, 138 F.3d at 399 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         C. ...


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