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Alcaraz v. KMF Oakland LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 5, 2019

BERNARDO ALCARAZ, Plaintiff,
v.
KMF OAKLAND LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO. 51

          SUSAN ILLSTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a motion by defendant Altezza Condo LLC (“Altezza”) to dismiss the second amended complaint in its entirety (“Motion to Dismiss”). This motion is scheduled for hearing on December 6, 2019. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument and hereby VACATES the hearing.

         Having considered the papers submitted and for good cause shown, the Court DENIES defendant's motion to dismiss in part and GRANTS defendant's motion to dismiss in part. Additionally, the Court GRANTS defendant's request for judicial notice in its entirety.

         BACKGROUND

         As set forth in this Court's Order Granting Plaintiff's Application for a Temporary Restraining Order, this lawsuit arises from Mr. Alcaraz's assertion that, on account of his race, color, and/or national origin, defendants have refused to sell him the residence that he occupies. Dkt. No. 38 (“TRO”). Mr. Alcaraz alleges that defendant KMF Oakland LLC (“KMF”) owned the 33-unit residential complex in Oakland where he and his family have resided since August 2010. Dkt. No. 23 (“SAC”) ¶¶ 28, 34-35. He states that in mid-2015 tensions arose between himself and a new property manager on account of Mr. Alcaraz's Mexican citizenship and that his rent checks began to be refused. SAC ¶¶ 38-48. In March 2016, KMF initiated unlawful detainer proceedings against Mr. Alcaraz in state court (“UD Action”). Id. ¶ 49; see also Dkt. No. 50 (“RJN”) Exhibit 1 (UD Complaint, Case No. RG16807351). While those proceedings were pending, in June 2016, KMF sold the building where Mr. Alcaraz resides to defendant Altezza.[1] SAC ¶ 50. Plaintiff states that he made his July 2016 rent payment to the company designated by Altezza. Id. ¶¶ 53-55. Plaintiff alleges that he also inquired with personnel at this same company and was assured no trial would take place in the UD Action. Id. ¶¶ 57-59.

         Mr. Alcaraz states that, based on this representation, he traveled internationally on business. Id. ¶ 60. Mr. Alcaraz alleges that KMF proceeded with the UD Action knowing he would not be present at trial. Id. ¶ 61. On August 1, 2016, in the unlawful detainer action, KMF secured a judgment of possession of the unit where Mr. Alcaraz resides. SAC ¶ 62; RJN Ex. 3 (UD Action Judgment). The judgment was affirmed on appeal. RJN Ex. 4 (UD Action Ruling on Appeal).

         Mr. Alcaraz alleges that in late 2016, the units in the building where he resides began to be sold as condominiums but that “not one unit of the 33 units was sold to a buyer of Hispanic and/or Mexican origin.” SAC ¶ 70. Mr. Alcaraz further states that in August and September 2016 he communicated with a firm representing Altezza and they offered Mr. Alcaraz the opportunity to buy his unit at the sales price of $630, 000 and that Mr. Alcaraz accepted. Id. ¶¶ 76-78. The sale did not take place, and in January, 2018 Mr. Alcaraz sued Altezza in state court for breach of contract and promissory estoppel (“Contract Action”). Id. ¶ 83; see also RJN Ex. 2 (Contract Action Complaint, Case No. RG18890767). In the Contract Action, Mr. Alcaraz did not allege that defendants refused to complete the sale on account of his race, color, and/or national origin. Id.; see also Dkt. No. 51-1 at 10[2] (“Motion to Dismiss”).

         In March 2019, Altezza prevailed in the Contract Action on a motion for summary judgment. SAC ¶ 85; RJN at 29-30 (Ex. 5 - Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment). In granting summary judgment, the Alameda Superior Court noted that plaintiff did not file an opposition to Altezza's motion or identify contrary evidence. RJN at 29-30 (Ex. 5 - Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment). Mr. Alcaraz's failure to oppose Altezza's summary judgment motion served as grounds to grant it. Id. Mr. Alcaraz appealed the dismissal of his case.[3] Dkt. No. 60 (“Plaintiff's Opp'n”) at 1; dkt. no. 60-1 (Notice of Appeal).

         On May 11, 2018, Mr. Alcaraz, acting pro se, filed the present lawsuit in this Court against defendant KMF. Dkt. No. 1. On November 21, 2018, Mr. Alcaraz filed a first amended complaint, adding claims against KMF for intentional interference with prospective economic relations, negligence, and injunctive relief. Dkt. No. 9. On July 22, 2019, with the Court's permission, Mr. Alcaraz filed a second amended complaint, adding Altezza as a defendant, and removing the claims for intentional interference with prospective economic relations and negligence. See generally SAC. The remaining claims are for violation of the federal Fair Housing Act (First Claim for Relief), violation of the Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process (Second Claim for Relief), and injunctive relief (Third Claim for Relief). Id. Altezza filed an answer to the second amended complaint on October 4, 2019. See generally Answer.

         On November 1, 2019, with the Court's permission, Altezza filed a motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint and a Request for Judicial Notice. Dkt. Nos. 51 (Motion to Dismiss), 50 (RJN).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must 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). This “facial plausibility” standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up to “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although courts do not require “heightened fact pleading of specifics, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544, a plaintiff must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555. The plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id.

         In deciding whether the plaintiff has stated a claim, the Court must assume that the plaintiff's allegations are true and must draw all reasonable inferences in his or her favor. Usher v. City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the court is not required to accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” St. Clare v. Gilead Scis., Inc., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Moreover, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         If the Court dismisses a complaint, it must decide whether to grant leave to amend. The Ninth Circuit has “repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Although res judicata and collateral estoppel are affirmative defenses, a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is an appropriate motion in which to raise these defenses when the defenses raise no disputed issues of ...


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