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Jones v. Seiu, United Healthcare Workers-West

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 4, 2019

BOBBY JONES, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Bobby Jones is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was referred to the undersigned in accordance with Local Rule 302(c)(21) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Pending before the undersigned is defendants' motion to dismiss the second amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 29.) For the reasons stated below, the undersigned will recommend that defendant's motion to dismiss be granted and the second amended complaint be dismissed without leave to amend.


         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, commenced this action on November 30, 2018, by filing a complaint and paying the required filing fee. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff was twice granted leave to amend and is now proceeding on a second amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 14 & 22.) Therein, plaintiff alleges that defendant SEIU, United Healthcare Workers-West failed to represent plaintiff “in obtaining his long term disability benefits under ERISA.” (Sec. Am. Compl. (ECF No. 23) at 2.[1]) As a result, plaintiff “was forced to file a complaint with the FEDERAL COURT to recover his disability benefits, and PREVAILED.” (Id.) Defendant “refuses to reimburse plaintiff for the attorney fees and costs for pursuing his disability payments.” (Id.)

         Defendant filed the pending motion to dismiss on April 30, 2019. (ECF No. 26.) Plaintiff filed an opposition on May 6, 2019. (ECF No. 27.) Defendant filed a reply on May 8, 2019. (ECF No. 28.)


         I. Legal Standards Applicable to Motions to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. N. Star Int'l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). “Dismissal can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). A plaintiff is required to allege “enough facts 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 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court accepts as true the allegations in the complaint and construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). In general, pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). However, the court need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986). While Rule 8(a) does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading is insufficient if it offers mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). Moreover, it is inappropriate to assume that the plaintiff “can prove facts which it has not alleged or that the defendants have violated the . . . laws in ways that have not been alleged.” Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983).

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court is permitted to consider material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint, documents that are not physically attached to the complaint if their authenticity is not contested and the plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies on them, and matters of public record. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001).


         Review of the second amended complaint and defendant's motion to dismiss finds that the second amended complaint should be dismissed for at least two reasons.

         I. Rule 8

         The second amended complaint alleges that defendant owed plaintiff “a duty of fair representation[.]” (Sec. Am. Compl. (ECF No. 23) at 2.) Pursuant to § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, “[a] union owes a duty of fair representation to those it represents, and an employer must honor the terms of a CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] to which it is a party.”[2]Bliesner v. Commc'n Workers of Am., 464 F.3d 910, 913 (9th Cir. 2006). “A union's duty of fair representation grows ...

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