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Alexander v. California Dept. of Motor Vehicles

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 4, 2019





         After Plaintiff Michael Alexander filed a Complaint and an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, the Court granted the application but found his complaint failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and therefore directed him to file an amended complaint. This screening order addresses Alexander's First Amended Complaint.


         On July 11, 2019, Alexander filed his original complaint, naming at least 29 defendants and listing 11 causes of action. Compl., ECF No. 1. He appeared to allege a conspiracy among the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the San Mateo County Superior Court, San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, the City of Pacifica, and the Pacifica Police Department to discriminate against him based on a physical disability by suspending his driver's license and taking him into custody for driving on a suspended driver's license. Id. ¶¶ 6-131. Although he listed 11 causes of action, he referred to various federal and state statutes and provisions of the United States Constitution throughout his complaint without tying them to any cause of action. Id. ¶¶ 132-222.

         On July 16, 2019, the Court issued a screening order advising Alexander that dismissal would be appropriate because he failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Order, ECF No. 6. Specifically, the Court found Alexander's complaint did not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 because he did not set forth a short and plain statement of his claims showing entitlement to relief. Id. at 3. Although he listed 11 causes of action, he referred generally to “Defendants” throughout and did not clearly connect any of the facts alleged in the complaint to any of the named individual defendants. Id. The Court also noted that he named at least 29 defendants but referred to numerous other entities and individuals throughout and appeared to bring his allegations against them as well. Id. Alexander also named entities that were likely entitled to immunity as to certain claims, including the “California State Government” and the “San Mateo County Superior Court” and its employees. Id. at 4-5. Finally, the Court noted that many of Alexander's allegations stemmed from events that occurred in 2013, which could pose a problem for him in terms of his claims being time-barred by the statute of limitations. Id. at 5-6. The Court directed Alexander to file an amended complaint that addressed these issues.

         Alexander filed his amended complaint on August 19, 2019. First Am. Compl., ECF No. 8. He now names two groups of defendants: (1) California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) and K. Cox, D.S.M. 1, a Driver's Safety employee for the DMV; and (2) “San Mateo County Superior Court en banc, et al” (“Superior Court”), including “the Clerk of the Court, Court Reporters, and all other such agents, attendants, servants, or employees that State Court defendant exercises direct control over whether by statutory law, local rule, or otherwise, ” and Ron Mortenson, the ADA Coordinator for San Mateo County Superior Court. Id. ¶¶ 7-12.

         Alexander alleges he is a disabled individual within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(1)(A)(iv). Id. ¶ 6. His allegations relate to his suspended driver's license in 2013, a 2018 traffic stop by Pacifica police and subsequent court case, and his request for a citizen's arrest of the entities and individuals involved.

         A. Suspended Driver's License

         On January 9, 2013, Alexander went to the local DVM office located in Clovis, California to renew his vehicle registration, but was informed that his driver's license had been suspended. Id. ¶ 9. When he visited the Driver's Safety Division and inquired as to the reason for his license suspension, the clerk “stated they received a complaint but was vague and refused to provide any details.” Id. ¶ 10. Alexander alleges he requested an administrative hearing on three separate occasions in writing but K. Cox “refused on his own behalf and/or on the behalf of the DMV.” Id. ¶ 11. Rather than respond to his request for a hearing, Alexander alleges K. Cox “sent via U.S. Mail four different forms over a three week period of time, DS 2326 titled ‘Driver Medical Evaluation. The documents were not signed by anyone. Each of the four Driver Medical Evaluation Forms was the same but the ‘reasons or basis' for the inquiry changed each time.” Id. ¶ 12. Alexander further alleges that each form demanded access to his medical records, to which he objected. Id. ¶ 13. In response, “Defendants K. Cox and DMV retaliated against plaintiff because he has opposed said acts and practices and alleged that said acts were unlawful because plaintiff had made a complaint, testified, assisted and participated in an investigation, sought related administrative proceedings, and requested a hearing.” Id. ¶ 14.

         Alexander states he does not know the basis for the suspension as he “has not had a DUI, drug, medical, major injury accidents, or other driving related event warranting such action.” Id. ¶ 20. He filed three letters with the DMV, dated January 10, 2013 through February 5, 2013, informing the DMV that it would be held liable for “such illegal action.” Id. ¶ 15. K. Cox acknowledged receipt of the three letters, but no action has taken place as a result. Id. ¶ 18. Alexander states he did not receive the suspension order until K. Cox mailed it to him on February 13, 2013, but that order required him to act by December 23, 2011. Id. ¶ 20. Although he requested all information relating to his suspension, “DMV has refused all requests and provided no disclosure as to the basis for their post-suspension action.” Id. ¶ 21.

         B. Traffic Stop and Subsequent Superior Court Case

         The next allegations in Alexander's complaint begin on July 11, 2018. On that date, he “was stopped by Pacifica who asked plaintiff if he knew his license was suspended.” Id. ¶ 44. When Alexander responded it was “good” and not “legally suspended, ” the police officer checked his computer and told him that his driver's license was suspended because of “disability.” Id. When he asked the officer “what about plaintiff's disability, ” the officer replied, “it does not specify, . . . ‘it just says disability.'” Id. ¶ 45. Alexander alleges this “establishes that K. Cox and DMV have targeted plaintiff and labeled him and that target label is plaintiff's ‘disability.'” Id. The officer issued a “Notice to Appear” citation “and threatened tow [sic] plaintiff's vehicle and take additional property because of the actions of K. Cox and DMV giving rise to new and separate causes of action.” Id.

         Alexander next alleges he “has made numerous requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA with Ron Mortenson the San Mateo County Court ADA Coordinator.” Id. ¶ 18. However, he does not provide any background information as to his requests or how they relate to the other allegations in his complaint. The Court notes that Alexander's amended complaint contains two sets of paragraph numbers that overlap, with the first set (numbered ¶¶ 1-61) on pages 1-16 and the second (numbered ¶¶ 18-160) on pages 16-41. As his allegations regarding Ron Mortenson begin at ¶ 18 in the second set, it is possible that some background information was omitted. The Court also notes that Alexander later alleges Judge Nancy L. Fineman “made comments to the affect [sic] that plaintiff was not capable of acting as counsel” and a public defender should be appointed and that he “has been subjected to 13 different judges, and 7 different deputy district attorney's [sic], on a single-count misdemeanor vehicle code violation.” Id. ¶¶ 29, 37. Thus, it appears that Alexander's second set of allegations refer to a criminal case at the Superior Court related to his 2018 citation for driving with a suspended license.

         Alexander states he “emailed Ron Mortenson at 10:50 am on dated [sic] December 12, 2018, and made many requests for reasonable accommodations and explained the general issues and nature of his disability” and sent a follow up email that afternoon at 2:46 p.m. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. However, “Ron Mortenson has not responded to any these questions, defined any of the process' [sic] to be used, and acted in a discriminatory manner on behalf of defendant State Court who hammers plaintiff for the constant inconsistencies.” Id. ¶ 22. As the Superior Court has two locations, Alexander also requested that his appearances be at a specific branch because it is closer and he “does not physically function well early in the morning.” Id. ¶ 24. He alleges Ron Mortenson moved his court appearance to the further location over his objection. Id. ¶ 26. Alexander contends “the State Court is trying to remove plaintiff as counsel in propria persona and deny him access to a public accommodation, goods, services, and due process on the basis of his disability and used such to carry out that function.” Id. ¶ 27. He alleges Ron Mortenson and the Superior Court have caused him “physical pain and suffering with lasting nerve damage in his feet as a direct result of their refusal to schedule proceedings in SSF and at a time that accommodate [sic] plaintiff's disability.” Id. ¶ 32.

         Next, Alexander alleges he subpoenaed the DMV, but it refused to comply. Id. ¶¶ 43-44. When he moved for a contempt citation to compel DMV to comply, “the court clerk said the ‘Judge' rejected it.” Id. ¶ 44. Alexander then attempted to file “a written pleading form contempt citation using all the elements from the civil contempt judicial council form, ” but “it was denied by State Court based on a review of the defective computer system whereas the court clerk no longer keep [sic] paper court files, every document is scanned into a computer file, so they claim.” Id. When he reviewed the “computer court file record, ” he discovered these documents did not exist. Id. ¶ 45. Alexander alleges the state court proceedings constitute a malicious prosecution and that the multiple delays he has faced are “intentional, controlled by State Court defendant, and designed and calculated to deny this ...

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