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Torres v. San Francisco Human Services Agency

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 6, 2019

JESUS TORRES, Plaintiff,



         On August 30, 2019, Defendants City and County of San Francisco and Trent Rhorer filed a motion for to dismiss Plaintiff Jesus Torres's first amended complaint.

         Upon review of the moving papers, the Court finds this matter suitable for resolution without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), and, for the reasons set forth below, GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, because any amendment would be futile.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 17, 2017, Plaintiff Jesus Torres, proceeding pro se, filed the instant suit against “San Francisco Human Services Agency, ” which is a department of the City and County of San Francisco, and Trent Rhorer in his official capacity in San Francisco Superior Court. Defendants were served on November 8, 2018, and subsequently removed the case to federal court.

         On August 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed the first amended complaint. (First Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 33.) Therein, Plaintiff alleges that the benefits that he was receiving through the County Adult Assistance Program (“CAAP program”)-a workforce program for low-income San Franciscans-were improperly terminated. The Department of Human Services (“DHS”) administers the CAAP program on behalf of the City, providing financial assistance and social services to indigent adults through programs, such as Personal Assistance Employment Services (“PAES”). (See FAC ¶ 7.) Plaintiff received a notice, dated September 13, 2016, that his PAES benefits would be terminated on or around September 30, 2016 for failure to submit his CAAP Monthly Earned Income and Asset Report. (FAC ¶ 7; 9/13 Notice, FAC, Ex. A.) The notice informed Plaintiff that if he did not submit that form by the 18th day of the month his benefits would be delayed and that if he did not submit by “the first work day of next month” his benefits would be discontinued effective September 30, 2016. (9/13 Notice at 1.) The notice also gave Plaintiff an option to request a due process hearing if he believed the action to discontinue benefits for failure to provide the completed reports was wrong. (9/13 Notice at 1.)

         Previously, on August 30, 2016, Plaintiff had requested a hearing to contest his discontinuation on the grounds that he had “failed” his “employability appt., ” which was scheduled for September 22, 2016. (See FAC ¶ 8, 9/1 Notice, FAC, Ex. B.) The notice confirming the hearing date advised Plaintiff that the “failure to appear or to check-in on time or to respond when security calls you will result in a decision in favor of the County.” (9/1 Notice at 1.)

         On September 22, 2016, Plaintiff's social worker told him to sign two forms-one scheduling an appointment on September 29, 2016 to submit his monthly income reports, and the other titled “PAES Participant Agreement, ” which resolved the issue that was set for hearing on that same date. (FAC ¶ 8; FAC, Exs. C-D.)

         Plaintiff did not appear at the appointment scheduled for September 29, 2016 to submit the monthly income reports, because he was experiencing acute lower back pain and could not travel. (FAC ¶ 11.) Plaintiff did not receive another notice stating that his benefits would be discontinued effective October 1, 2016. (FAC ¶ 12.) Plaintiff did not receive his benefits on October 1, 2016 as expected. (FAC ¶ 13.)

         Plaintiff was issued another notice on October 13, 2016, which warned that his assistance would be discontinued if he did not submit his Earned Income and Asset Report form. (FAC ¶¶ 13-14; 10/13 Notice, FAC, Ex. H.) That notice informed Plaintiff that he had until October 18, 2016 to submit the report without a lapse in benefits, but that if he submitted the form before the first day of the month that he would continue to receive benefits, but that payment would be delayed. (10/13 Notice at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that this notice made him “believe he had a chance to recover his benefits, ” and he submitted the required form on October 20, 2016. (FAC ¶ 15.) Despite allegedly submitting the form, Plaintiff's benefits were terminated. Id.

         Plaintiff requested a fair hearing to contest the discontinuance of his benefits, but cancelled the hearing on October 21, 2016. (FAC ¶ 15.) On October 31, 2016, Plaintiff went to HSA and obtained assistance in filling out another request for a fair hearing. (FAC ¶¶ 15-16; FAC, Ex. I.)

         On November 3, 2016, the County denied Plaintiff's request for another hearing on the grounds that he had a hearing scheduled on October 24, 2016, but that he had contacted the office on October 21, 2016 to withdraw that request, so he was no longer contesting the County's proposed termination action effective September 30, 2016. (FAC ¶ 17; 11/3 Notice, FAC, Ex. J.) Additionally, that notice clarified that the recent discontinuance action was not for a new issue, but was “only putting into effect the originally proposed discontinuance action that had been suspended while the Fair Hearing process ran its course.” (11/3 Notice at 1)(emphasis in original.)

         Plaintiff's benefits were restored as of February 3, 2017. (Dkt. No. 24 at 3.)

         Plaintiff's first amended complaint alleges two causes of action: (1) a violation of Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ...

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