United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO.
PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Randall Steven Curtis' motion to dismiss came on for
hearing before this court on August 28, 2019. Plaintiffs
appeared through their counsel, Carol Hepburn and John Kawai.
Defendant appeared through his counsel, Ethan Balogh. Having
read the papers filed by the parties and carefully considered
their arguments and the relevant legal authority, and good
cause appearing, the court hereby DENIES defendant's
to the complaint, the defendant was indicted in the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of California for
knowingly possessing and transporting child pornography in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(4)(B) and
2252(a)(1), respectively. Compl. ¶ 66. On July 13, 2017,
defendant admitted that the offenses occurred on September 6,
2016, and pled guilty to all counts of the indictment.
Id. ¶ 70; see United States v. Curtis,
No. 16 Cr. 510 SI (N.D. Cal.), Dkt. 34 ¶ 2.
April 23, 2019, fifteen plaintiffs, proceeding under
pseudonyms, filed this civil action against Curtis based on
the above-described conviction. Dkt. 1. At the time the
complaint was filed, seven of the fifteen plaintiffs were
adults, Compl. ¶¶ Id. ¶¶ 3, 5,
9, 11, 13, 15, 23 (the “seven adult plaintiffs”),
and eight were minors, id. ¶¶ 7, 17, 20,
25, 27. Each plaintiff alleges that they were victims of
childhood sexual abuse and that depictions of that abuse have
been and continue to be distributed on the internet. Compl.
¶¶ 34-65. Plaintiffs further allege that analysts
at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
(the “NCMEC”) matched child pornography images
found on the defendant's computer to child pornography
images of plaintiffs in NCMEC's database. Id.
¶ 67. “On March 14, 2017, plaintiffs first
received notice of their images having been among those
possessed by defendant.” Id. ¶ 69. Each
of the named plaintiffs allege that they have “been and
will continue to suffer personal injury by the distribution
and possession of child pornography depicting her by persons
including the Defendant.” Id. ¶¶ 36,
39, 42, 45, 50, 53, 56, 59, 62, 65; see also id.
¶ 80 (“The Plaintiffs suffered personal injury as
a result of the Defendant's violation of 18 U.S.C. §
on, inter alia, the above allegations, plaintiffs allege a
single cause of action under 18 U.S.C. § 2255(a), which
allows victims of certain enumerated crimes to recover civil
damages against the perpetrators of those crimes.
Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests for the legal
sufficiency of the claims alleged in the complaint. Ileto
v. Glock, 349 F.3d 1191, 1199-1200 (9th Cir. 2003).
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which requires that
a complaint include a “short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), a complaint may be dismissed under Rule
12(b)(6) if the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal
theory, or has not alleged sufficient facts to support a
cognizable legal theory. Somers v. Apple, Inc., 729
F.3d 953, 959 (9th Cir. 2013). The factual “allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level[.]” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). That is, the
complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Whether a complaint satisfies the plausibility standard is a
“context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 679.
18 U.S.C. § 2255
2255 provides an avenue for victims of certain enumerated
crimes to recover civil damages. The relevant part of the
Any person who, while a minor, was a victim of a violation of
section 1589, 1590, 1591, 2241(c), 2242, 2243, 2251, 2251A,
2252, 2252A, 2260, 2421, 2422, or 2423 of this title and who
suffers personal injury as a result of such violation,
regardless of whether the injury occurred while such person
was a minor, may sue in any appropriate United States
District Court and shall recover the actual damages such
person sustains and the cost of the suit, including a
reasonable attorney's fee. Any ...