Kennedy v. Sonoma County Superior Court et al

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-01642

ORDER Dismissing {{6}} Amended Complaint With Leave to Amend. Signed by Judge Kandis A. Westmore on 08/06/2015. (kawlc2S, COURT STAFF) (Additional attachment(s) added on 8/6/2015: # {{1}} Certificate/Proof of Service)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 RHEANNA D. KENNEDY, 7 Case No. 15-cv-01642-KAW Plaintiff, 8 ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED v. COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO 9 AMEND SONOMA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, 10 et al., Re: Dkt. No. 6 11 Defendants. 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Rheanna D. Kennedy ("Plaintiff"), acting pro se, commenced the above-captioned case on 14 April 10, 2015. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff also filed an application to proceed in forma 15 pauperis. (Pl.'s IFP Appl., Dkt. No. 2.) On May 14, 2015, the Court granted that application but 16 dismissed Plaintiff's complaint, with leave to amend, for failure to state a claim upon which relief 17 can be granted. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on June 11, 2015. (Am. Compl. ("FAC"), 18 Dkt. No. 6.) That complaint is also subject to dismissal, with leave to amend, for the reasons set 19 forth below. 20 I. LEGAL STANDARD 21 Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), a court "shall dismiss [a] case at any time if the court 22 determines that. . . the action. . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." See Fed. 23 R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a pleading contain "a 24 short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." But "a 25 complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is 26 plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Threadbare 27 recitals of the elements of a cause of action" and "conclusory statements" are not adequate. 28 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 1 probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted 2 unlawfully. . . . When a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's 3 liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id. 4 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal citations omitted). 5 Pro se pleadings are liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) 6 (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). "A pro se complaint, however inartfully 7 pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. . . . " 8 Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106 (internal citations omitted). 9 III. DISCUSSION 10 This action stems from the alleged warrantless removal of Plaintiff's two minor children. 11 (FAC ¶¶ 5a, 5b.) The allegations in the complaint are as follows: 12 5A. In Sonoma County on February 7th 2013 Elizabeth Martinez (CPS) and a Northern District of California police officer came to my house without a warrant and seized my daughter. United States District Court 13 5b. In Contra Costa County on February 7th 2013 a social worker and a police 14 officer seized my son, again without a warrant. 15 5c. May 2013 a detriment finding stopped all visits w/ my children. My public 16 defender Bonnie Alonzo failed to notify me where the meeting was at. I did not have a chance to fight for my visits. 17 5d. June 2013 I was black mailed by social worker Juana Marquez and CPS paid 18 therapist that if I admitted to something I didnt do I could see my children. I 19 wouldnt lie. 20 5E. I was told by CPS that if I do their case plan I'd be reunited with what's LAWFULLY mine, my children. I graduated parenting classes, a drug diversion 21 program, and attend one on one therapy where I was blackmailed by CPS PAID therapist Marilyn Stender. I attended domestic violence classes on my own dime 22 and time as well as paid for anger management. 23 5f. Foster parents were never background checked and have also lied about my 24 childrens sleeping arrangements. 25 5g. I was never given a fair and speedy trial by my peers to fight for my parental rights. 26 27 5h. Jv 180 was filed but dismissed without even looking at the evidence. I was mocked in a court room by Judge Robert Bertoli. 28 2 5I. I was misrepresented by david fuller. None of Sonoma Counties Public 1 Defenders helped me. 2 ... 3 5J. I was discriminated against because of the color of my hair. I dyed my hair in hopes that the system would see I'll do anything for my children. 4 (FAC ¶¶ 5A-5J (errors in original).) 5 Plaintiff names the Sonoma County Superior Court, the Sonoma County Human Services 6 Department (CPS), the Sonoma County Public Defender's Office, the Rohnert Park Police 7 Department, the Santa Rosa Police Department, and the El Sobrante Police Department as 8 Defendants. (Id. ¶ 1.) She also prays for "the immediate return of [her] children" and $4.5 million 9 in damages, "[a]lthough no dollar amount will ever repair the damage that w[as] done to [her] 10 children. . . and [her] family." (Id. ¶ 6.) 11 Plaintiff's causes of action include a § 1983 claim for violation of her Fourteenth 12 Northern District of California Amendment rights to familial association. While that claim may possibly be viable, the rest of the United States District Court 13 amended complaint is problematic. To the extent Plaintiff asserts any claims against Judge 14 Bertoli, the Court has already explained that even if Plaintiff could properly allege facts showing 15 that Judge Bertoli engaged in any of the conduct that is the basis for Plaintiff's claims, absolute 16 immunity would attach to his actions. See Demoran v. Witt, 781 F.2d 155, 158 (9th Cir. 1985) 17 ("Absolute immunity fails to attach to judicial officers only when they act clearly and completely 18 outside the scope of their jurisdiction. Allegations of malice or bad faith in the execution of the 19 officer's duties are insufficient to sustain the complaint when the officer possesses absolute 20 judicial immunity."); Haile v. Sawyer, No. C 02-5723 MJJ, 2003 WL 1907661, at *2 (N.D. Cal. 21 Apr. 14, 2003) ("It is well-settled that judges are immune from civil suit for actions taken in their 22 judicial capacity, unless 'taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction.'") (citation omitted). 23 The Court also explained that any claim against the Sonoma County Superior Court would 24 be barred by the Eleventh Amendment, which renders state entities immune from tort actions for 25 damages. See Hyland v. Wonder, 117 F.3d 405, 413 (9th Cir. 1997). The Court further explained 26 that to the extent Plaintiff alleges ineffective assistance of counsel or otherwise challenges the 27 state court proceedings, an appeal is the appropriate method to address her claims. 28 3 1 With respect to any claims asserted against the Rohnert Park Police Department, the Santa 2 Rosa Police Department, or the El Sobrante Police Department, Plaintiff has failed to allege any 3 facts that would support an inference of liability. If she wishes to pursue any claims against these 4 departments, then she must allege such facts. 5 Additionally, Plaintiff has failed to separately plead each cause of action. See Fed. R. Civ. 6 P. 10 ("A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as 7 practicable to a single set of circumstances. . . . If doing so would promote clarity, each claim 8 founded on a separate transaction or occurrence. . . must be stated in a separate count or 9 defense."). Nor does she specify which claim is asserted against which defendant. For the sake of 10 clarity and so that each defendant has fair notice of the claim, or claims, asserted against him or 11 her, Plaintiff should separately plead each cause of action, along with the specific facts that 12 support each one and specific facts pertaining to each defendant. Plaintiff should also be sure to Northern District of California United States District Court 13 identify the proper legal basis for each of her claims and identify the proper defendants. 14 IV. CONCLUSION 15 For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff's amended complaint is dismissed with leave to 16 amend. Plaintiff shall file a second amended complaint within 30 days of this order. Plaintiff is 17 on notice that the second amended complaint will supersede the original complaint, such that it 18 will be treated as nonexistent. See Armstrong v. Davis, 275 F.3d 849, 878 n.40 (9th Cir. 2001), 19 abrogated on other grounds by Johnson v. Cal., 543 U.S. 499 (2005). For this reason, Plaintiff 20 shall properly identify the legal and factual bases for all of her claims, free of any reference to 21 any prior complaint, and she shall clearly identify the specific claims asserted against each 22 defendant. See King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987), overruled on other grounds by 23 Lacey v. Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896 (9th Cir. 2012). She shall also allege specific facts 24 pertaining to each defendant under each applicable cause of action. The second amended 25 complaint shall comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2, which outlines specific 26 requirements that apply to certain pleadings, including those naming minors. Failure to file a 27 second amended complaint within 30 days of this order may result in dismissal of this action for 28 failure to prosecute. 4 1 To ensure that her second amended complaint complies with this order, Plaintiff may wish 2 to contact the Federal Pro Bono Project's Help Desk—a free service for pro se litigants—by 3 calling (415) 782-8982. The Court has also adopted a manual for use by pro se litigants, which 4 may be helpful to Plaintiff. This manual, and other free information is available online at: 5 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 Dated: 08/06/2015 __________________________________ 8 KANDIS A. WESTMORE 9 United States Magistrate Judge 10 11 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5