United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE DEFENDANTS'
REQUESTS THAT PLAINTIFF BE DECLARED A VEXATIOUS
M. CHESNEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
order filed October 8, 2019, the Court granted four separate
motions to dismiss plaintiff Andrea Wood's
("Wood") Amended Complaint, and, in so doing,
dismissed the above-titled action without further leave to
amend. Two of the motions to dismiss, specifically the
motions filed by Mary Carey ("Carey") and the
County Defendants, include a request that the Court declare
plaintiff Wood a vexatious litigant and impose pre-filing
restrictions as to future civil actions she may file. In her
oppositions to those two motions, Wood has responded to said
additional requests, and defendants have replied thereto.
Having fully considered the matter, the Court rules as
a district court may issue an order finding a litigant to be
vexatious and imposing pre-filing restrictions, (1) "the
litigant must be given notice and a chance to be heard,"
(2) "the district court must compile an adequate record
for review," (3) "the district court must make
substantive findings about the frivolous or harassing nature
of the plaintiff's litigation," and (4) "the
vexatious litigant order must be narrowly tailored to closely
fit the specific vice encountered." See Molski v.
Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 500 F.3d 1047, 1057 (9th Cir.
2007) (internal quotations and citation omitted).
instant case, the motions to dismiss filed by Carey and the
County Defendants provide ample notice to Wood of the civil
actions and other conduct on which they base their respective
requests that she be declared a vexatious litigant, and, as
noted, Wood has responded to those requests. The Court next
summarizes the civil actions on which defendants rely,
specifically, five cases filed in this district and one case
filed in state court.
Summary of Wood's Civil Actions
the cases on which defendants rely arises from a decision
made by a state court judge assigned to child dependency
proceedings instituted by the County, namely, the decision to
remove three minor children from Wood's custody.
Wood v. Carey, C19-00363, filed February 28, 2019
(hereinafter "Wood 1"), the one case filed
in state court, and chronologically the first filed, Wood,
appearing by counsel, asserted, against Carey and Carey's
law firm, claims of professional negligence pertaining to
decisions allegedly made by Carey in the course of
representing Wood in the child dependency proceedings. On
August 19, 2019, the state court judge assigned to Wood
1 dismissed the operative complaint "without
prejudice as premature and without leave to amend."
(See Carey's Req. for Judicial Notice, Exs. 2,
Wood I was pending in state court, Wood, now and
henceforth appearing pro se, filed the first of the five
cases brought in this district, Wood v. County of Contra
Costa, Civil Case No. 19-2678 JD, filed May 17, 2019
(hereinafter, "Wood 2"), in which action
Wood, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the First
Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, alleged that an
"enterprise," consisting of social workers employed
by the County, a deputy county counsel, an attorney who
represented Wood, an attorney who represented one of
Wood's children, two California superior court judges,
and one of Wood's neighbors, conspired to deprive Wood of
the custody of her children. After motions to dismiss had
been filed, and after said motions had been fully briefed but
before the district judge assigned to the matter had made any
ruling thereon, Wood voluntarily dismissed the case without
prejudice. As the moving defendants correctly point out, the
factual and legal claims asserted in Wood 2 are
essentially indistinguishable from those alleged in the
above-titled action, the sole substantive difference being
the addition of Cecelia Gutierrez as a named defendant.
second of the five cases brought in this district, Wood
v. County of Contra Costa, Civil Case No. 19-3885 EJD,
filed July 5, 2019, (hereinafter, "Wood
3"), is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 2243, based on the
theory that two of Wood's children are unlawfully being
held in custody, and brought against the County, a juvenile
court judge, and three individuals whom Wood appears to
assert presently have custody of her children. To date, no
substantive rulings have been issued by the district court
judge assigned to the case.
Wood v. Chidi, Civil Case No. 19-4202, filed July
22, 2019 (hereinafter "Wood 4"), the third
of the five cases brought in this district, Wood asserts,
under § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment, claims
against the County and two, or possibly three, social workers
assigned to "HP," one of her children,
primarily challenges decisions made by said social workers,
e.g., a "fail[ure] to arrange visitations."
(See Compl., Wood 4, ¶ 21.) To date,
no substantive rulings have been issued by the district court
assigned to the case.
in Wood v. Williams, Civil Case No. 19-4247, filed
July 24, 2019 (hereinafter, "Wood 5"), the
fourth of the five cases brought in this district, Wood
asserts, under § 1983, the Fourteenth Amendment, and
state law, claims against the County and a social worker
assigned to "KP," another of Wood's children,
and primarily challenges decisions made by said social
worker, e.g., the "fail[ure] to ensure KP was taken to
school." (See Compl., Wood 5, ¶