Wright v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-03204

ORDER DENYING {{14}} MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis AND DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT. Second Amended Pleadings due by 9/21/2015. Signed by Judge Jeffrey S. White on 8/20/15.

Interested in this case?

Current View

Full Text

1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 FRANKLIN H. WRIGHT, 7 Case No. 15-cv-03204-JSW Plaintiff, 8 ORDER DENYING APPLICATION TO v. PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND 9 DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND COMPLAINT 10 SECURITY, et al., Re: Docket No. 14 11 Defendants. 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Now before the Court is the application to proceed in forma pauperis filed by plaintiff 14 Franklin H. Wright ("Plaintiff") and Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. A district court may 15 deny in forma pauperis status and sua sponte dismiss an action under certain circumstances, 16 including when the underlying complaint sought to be filed is frivolous or when it fails to state a 17 claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also Cato v. United States, 18 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). 19 On July 30, 2015, the Court issued an Order dismissing Plaintiff's complaint with leave to 20 amend, because he had not complied with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), and had failed to 21 set forth the grounds upon which this Court has jurisdiction, "a short and plain statement of the 22 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ... and a demand for judgment for the relief the 23 pleader seeks." Specifically, it was not clear who Plaintiff was seeking to sue or what facts 24 Plaintiff alleges occurred. 25 In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names the United States Department of 26 Homeland Security, United States Department of Justice, Julie Horst, and Eric Lunson as 27 Defendants. Plaintiff alleges that he brings this action, in part, as a counterclaim to a criminal 28 case, United States v. Schwartz, 15-CR-351-MEJ, in which Plaintiff was charged with violating 41 1 C.F.R. section 102-74.385, Disobey Lawful Order (the "criminal case").1 2 Plaintiff asserts twelve claims for relief, including, inter alia, wrongful arrest against 3 Officer Lunson, "assault by proxy" against Ms. Horst, violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth 4 Amendments to the United States Constitution, and breach of contract and breach of fiduciary 5 duty against the United States Department of Justice. Plaintiff has added several claims and some 6 additional paragraphs that purport to set forth the facts underlying his claims. Plaintiff also 7 attaches a written narrative of his version of events that occurred on March 13, 2015, which relate 8 to his arrest and subsequent prosecution in the criminal case. With that exception, the rest of 9 Plaintiff's "allegations," as in his original complaint, refer to other cases and filings in those cases. 10 For example, with respect to allegations regarding alleged harassment, he refers to Wright v. 11 United States, 13-5994-LB or refers to filings in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth 12 Circuit, but does not specify exactly what facts or filings in those cases are pertinent to his claims Northern District of California United States District Court 13 in this case. (See, e.g., Compl. at 4:7-19.) 14 Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint does not contain clear and concise factual statements 15 to support his twelve claims for relief and, thus, still does not comply with the requirements of 16 Rule 8. Cf. Cafasso v. General Dyanamics C4 Systems, Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1058-59 (9th Cir. 17 2011) (upholding denial of leave to amend where amendment would have been futile because of 18 "proposed pleading's extraordinary prolixity") (citing cases); McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 19 1177-80 (9th Cir. 1996) (upholding dismissal for failure to comply with Rule 8(a) where 20 complaint was "argumentative, prolix, replete with redundancy, and largely irrelevant"). "The 21 propriety of dismissal for failure to comply with Rule 8 does not depend on whether the complaint 22 is wholly without merit." McHenry, 84 F.3d at 1179. Even if the factual elements of the cause of 23 action are present, but are scattered throughout the complaint and are not organized into a "short 24 and plain statement of the claim," dismissal for failure to satisfy Rule 8 is proper. Id. at 1178. In 25 addition, because Plaintiff has not included all of the allegations in his First Amended Complaint, 26 27 1 Based on the record in the criminal case, Ms. Horst is a law librarian at the United States 28 Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Officer Lunson is a member of the Federal Protective Services. 2 1 and makes references to other cases and filings, it is impossible for the Court to discern whether it 2 has jurisdiction over the claims, whether Plaintiff's claims would be barred based on doctrines of 3 immunity, whether Plaintiff may be collaterally estopped from asserting the claims or whether 4 there is some other legal basis to conclude that Plaintiff's claims are futile. 5 For example, as noted, Plaintiff argues that he is asserting a "counter-claim" to the criminal 6 case. According to the docket in that case, following a bench trial, Plaintiff was found guilty. See 7 United States v. Schwartz, 15-CR-351, Docket No. 14. The record in the instant case suggests that 8 Plaintiff may be attempting to challenge the outcome of the criminal case. This, however, is not 9 the proper forum to do so. Further, Plaintiff makes a general reference to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 10 in his list of claims for relief. To the extent he asserts a claim under Section 1983 or any tort 11 claims against Ms. Horst and Officer Lunson that arise out of the incident on March 13, 2015, his 12 claims also may be barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In that case, the Supreme Northern District of California United States District Court 13 Court held that: 14 in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions 15 whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been 16 reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or 17 called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. 18 19 Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. The principle enunciated in Heck has been applied to claims brought 20 pursuant to the FTCA if, in order to prevail, a plaintiff would have to prove the invalidity of the 21 underlying conviction. See Erlin v. United States, 364 F.3d 1127, 1132 (9th Cir. 2004); Parris v. 22 United States, 45 F.3d 383, 384-85 (10th Cir. 1995) (granting summary judgment for defendant 23 where plaintiff's claim, although "couched in terms of negligence," actually sought review of 24 basis for his conviction). 25 Similarly, it appears that Plaintiff may intend to assert claims against the individuals who 26 prosecuted the criminal case. As noted, Plaintiff makes a passing reference to Section 1983. (See, 27 e.g., Compl. at 6:9-10; Docket No. 17, Declaration of Franklin Wright, ¶¶ 35-39.) However, 28 "[p]rosecutors are … entitled to absolute immunity from section 1983 claims," and thus at least 3 1 som me of Plaintiiff's claims may m be barreed on that baasis as well. Ashelman vv. Pope, 793 F.2d 1072, 2 107 75 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing g Imbler v. Pachtman, P 4424 U.S. 4099, 427 (1976))). 3 Accord dingly, the Court DENIE ES Plaintiff'ss motion to pproceed in foorma pauperris, and it 4 DIS SMISSES th he First Ameended Comp plaint. The C Court shall ggrant Plaintifff one final oopportunity 5 to amend. a If Plaintiff choo oses to file a second ameended compllaint, he musst do more thhan 6 refference plead dings or filin ngs in other cases c to suppport his factuual allegatioons. Rather, he must set 7 forrth the facts that t support the claims for f relief in tthe body of hhis pleading.. Plaintiff m may file a seccond amendeed complaintt and a renew wed motion to proceed iin forma pauuperis by no later than 8 Sep ptember 21, 2015. If Plaaintiff fails to t file a secoond amendedd complaint bby that date,, the Court 9 shaall dismiss th his action wiith prejudicee. 10 IT IS SO S ORDER RED. 11 Daated: August 20, 2015 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 ___________________________ 14 JE EFFREY S. W WHITE 15 Unnited States D District Judgge 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4