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Hyon v. Henderson

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2019

JUNHO HYON, Plaintiff,
LORRE HENDERSON, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was accordingly referred to the undersigned by E.D. Cal. 302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and has submitted the affidavit required by that statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). ECF No. 2. The motion to proceed IFP will therefore be GRANTED.

         I. SCREENING

         The federal IFP statute requires federal courts to dismiss a case if the action is legally “frivolous or malicious, ” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff must assist the court in determining whether or not the complaint is frivolous, by drafting the complaint so that it complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.”). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are available online at policies/current-rules-practice-procedure/federal-rules-civil-procedure.

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court will (1) accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they are clearly baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and (3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. See Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 564 U.S. 1037 (2011).

         The court applies the same rules of construction in determining whether the complaint states a claim on which relief can be granted. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (court must accept the allegations as true); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff). Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). A formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not suffice to state a claim. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         To state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff must allege enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity to amend, unless the complaint's deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

         A. The Complaint

         Plaintiff, who has a California address, brings suit for “fraud” and “conspiracy” against the following five named defendants: (1) Dr. Lorre Henderson, whose “residency is unknown, ” but whose primary place of business is alleged to be in Fairfield, California; (2) Desiree Bosco, alleged to be a California resident; (3) Sutter Medical Foundation, [1] whose primary place of business is alleged to be in Sacramento, California; (4) The Doctors Company, whose primary place of business is alleged to be in Napa, California; and (5) the Medical Board of California. ECF No. 1 at 1-2. As the basis for jurisdiction, plaintiff states that he is filing this complaint in this court because he has been registered as a vexatious litigant in the Superior Court of Solano County. Id. at 1.

         Plaintiff claims that he developed hearing loss after Dr. Henderson used a suction instrument to remove wax from both of plaintiff's ears in January 2017. Id. at 3. In plaintiff's medical records, Dr. Henderson stated that plaintiff's hearing loss was due to “Uncontrolled insulin dependent type 2 diabetes, ” which plaintiff alleges was “fabrication.” Id. Plaintiff attempted to obtain information from defendant Bosco, Administrative Director of Sutter Medical Foundation, but she never responded. Id. at 4. Plaintiff made a claim with Dr. Henderson's liability insurance provider, The Doctors Company, which denied his claim. Id. He also filed a complaint with the Medical Board of California, which was denied. Id. at 5. Plaintiff asserts that all five defendants “have conspired against plaintiff by corresponding among themselves” and that they each (except for Sutter) “committed frauds” and “committed conspiracy.” Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 7.

         B. Analysis

         Plaintiff's complaint suffers from numerous deficiencies, several of which cannot be cured by amendment. First, the complaint fails to plead sufficient facts to make out state-law claims of fraud or civil conspiracy.[2] More fundamentally, however, this suit is barred against the Medical Board, and the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case because plaintiff shares the same state of citizenship as many (if not all) of the other defendants, and his factual allegations support no identifiable federal claim.

         The Medical Board of California, as an arm of the State, is entitled to sovereign immunity. Absent consent or waiver, the Eleventh Amendment bars private suits against a state or a state agency in federal court. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 276 (1986); Sato v. Orange Cty. Dep't of Educ., 861 F.3d 923, 928 (9th Cir. 2017) (“[A]gencies of the state are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from private damages or suits for injunctive relief brought in federal court.”) (citation omitted). The Medical Board of California is a state entity created pursuant to Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 2001. As there is no indication that the State has consented to suit, or waived its sovereign immunity, both of plaintiffs claims against the Medical Board are barred under the Eleventh Amendment.

         In addition, plaintiff's complaint provides no basis for federal jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is a threshold inquiry that must precede the adjudication of any case before the district court. Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Cal. State Bd. of Equalization, 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988). Federal courts-unlike state court where plaintiff has apparently been rebuffed for vexatious litigation-are courts of limited jurisdiction and may adjudicate only those cases authorized by federal law. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Willy v. Coastal Corp., 503 U.S. 131, 136-37 (1992). “Federal courts are presumed to lack jurisdiction, ‘unless the contrary appears affirmatively from the record.'” Casey v. Lewis, 4 F.3d 1516, 1519 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting Bender ...

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