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Wills v. Hanson Bridgett, LLP

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 13, 2019




         Pro se plaintiff Cynthia Wills brings claims for breach of contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against defendants Hanson Bridgett LLP and First Republic Bank arising out of two checks that she alleges were not delivered on time. Dkt. No. 1, Ex. 1. Because Wills fails to allege sufficient facts to state any claims against Hanson Bridgett or First Republic Bank, all claims against both defendants are DISMISSED. No. claims remain, so the case is hereby DISMISSED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Cynthia Wills filed this case pro se in state court against defendants United Postal Service, Hanson Bridgett LLP, and First Republic Bank. Dkt. No. 1, Ex. 1 (Complaint). Defendants removed the case to federal court. Dkt. No. 1. This Court denied Wills's motion to remand. Dkt. No. 39. Defendants filed motions to dismiss all claims. Dkt. Nos. 7, 10, 14. The Court held a hearing on the motions. Dkt. No. 40. The Court granted the motions to dismiss, dismissing former defendant UPS from the case. Dkt. No. 42. The Court dismissed all of Ms. Wills's claims against Hanson Bridgett and First Republic Bank, and granted Ms. Wills leave to amend. Dkt. No. 42.

         The amended complaint lists “Cynthia S. Wills” and “Carmel Resort Supply” as plaintiffs. Dkt. No. 42 at 1. She explains that she is “an individual and sole proprietor, d/b/a Carmel Resort Supply.” Id. Wills's amended complaint alleges that she entered into “partly written . . . oral and implied in fact contract/s” with First Republic Bank on May 10, 2018, that obligated the bank “to secure timely delivery of a $10, 000 check to American Express” for payment on her account. FAC ¶ 9. She alleges that the check was not received by American Express on time, causing her to miss a payment.[1] Id. She alleges that she requested another check from FRB on July 13, 2018, this time for $800 and for delivery directly to her. FAC ¶ 10.

         Wills alleges that sometime between July 13 and July 19, 2018, she received a call from an attorney at Hanson Bridgett, a law firm representing FRB. FAC ¶ 11. She expressed concern in that phone call about the issues with the $10, 000 check. Id. On July 19, 2018, Wills received a letter from Hanson Bridgett stating that FRB had retained their firm “to review [her] accusations and address [her] harassment of various personnel in offices in San Francisco and other bank branches, ” and informing her that her FRB account was being closed. Id. The $800 check was not enclosed with the letter. Id. Wills found herself “in banking hell.” Id. (emphasis in original).

         Wills attaches to her complaint a letter from Hanson Bridgett dated July 20, 2018, which states that two checks were awaiting pick-up at the United States Post Office (one for $800, and one for $3, 571.84). Dkt. No. 43, Ex. 3. The letter states that “[a]n employee of the United States Postal Service telephonically confirmed that the check is there waiting for you to pick it up.” Id. Wills also attaches a letter that she wrote to Hanson Bridgett on July 24, 2018, stating that she would not cash the checks and requesting that they be sent to a different location. Dkt. No. 43, Ex. 4. She received the checks at that new location on July 26, 2018. FAC ¶ 11. Timing was so tight that she had to hand deliver her next payment to her creditor. Id. Wills states that her business suffered and that she was forced to vacate her office space as a result of defendants' actions. Id.

         FRB and Hanson Bridgett moved to dismiss the entire complaint. Dkt. Nos. 48, 49. Wills filed an opposition to the motions. Dkt. No. 52. All parties consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Dkt. Nos. 11, 15, 16, 30.


         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). On a motion to dismiss, all allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337- 38 (9th Cir. 1996). The Court, however, need not accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Secs. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Although a complaint need not allege detailed factual allegations, it must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is facially plausible when it “allows 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). If a court grants a motion to dismiss, leave to amend should be granted unless the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000).


         A. Breach of Contract

         To plead a claim for breach of contract, a plaintiff must allege: (1) the existence of a contract, (2) plaintiff's performance or excuse for nonperformance; (3) defendant's breach; and (4) resulting damages to the plaintiff. Oasis W. Realty, LLC v. Goldman, 51 Cal.4th 811, 821 (2011). A contract can be created orally, in writing, or through conduct. Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1620-1622. An implied-in-fact contract can be inferred from the parties' conduct. Division of Labor Law Enforcement v. Transpacific Transportation Co., 69 Cal.App.3d 268, 275 (1977).

         1. First ...

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