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Plasse v. Mao

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

November 13, 2014

GERARD PLASSE, Plaintiff,
v.
DUNG MAO, JANE DOE MAO, Husband and Wife; MARILEE C. ERICKSON; REED McCLURE, A Professional Service Corp., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' PENDING MOTIONS

RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Dkts. #12 and #14. Defendants essentially argue that Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed because it is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to challenge the decisions made by various Washington courts in his underlying civil action, which this Court may not do. Plaintiff argues that he is not seeking to challenge those decisions, but rather seeks Defendants' liability for alleged Due Process and Equal Protection violations, and for state law actions of fraud and misrepresentation. Dkt. #23. Also pending before the Court are Plaintiff's various motions to supplement the record and amend his complaint. Dkts. #20, #21, and #40. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motions to dismiss, and denies Plaintiff's pending motions accordingly.

II. BACKGROUND

This case arises from an underlying auto accident civil suit in Washington State court. Plaintiff previously sued Dung Mao in King County Superior Court for injuries he sustained after being hit by Mr. Mao's vehicle while Plaintiff was crossing the street. Dkt. #1. That case proceeded to a jury trial before the Honorable William Downing. Dkt. #1 at ¶ 8. The jury found in favor of Mr. Mao. Dkt. #12, Ex. A. Plaintiff then filed an appeal to the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1. Dkt. #1 at ¶ 11. Now-Defendant Marilee Erickson of the Reed McClure law firm represented Mr. Mao on appeal. Id. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that Judge Downing had erred by refusing to give certain jury instructions. See Dkt. #12, Ex. A. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision, in part because Plaintiff had failed to provide a transcript of the relevant proceedings, which resulted in material omissions from the record. Dkt. #12, Ex. A at 2, fn.1.

Plaintiff then sought review by the Washington Supreme Court, which was denied. Plaintiff filed a Petition for Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was also denied. Dkt. #1 at ¶ ¶ 12-13. Plaintiff then filed the instant lawsuit, naming Mr. Mao and his marital community, Ms. Erickson, and the law firm of Reed McClure as Defendants to the action. Plaintiff alleges denial of Due Process under the U.S. Constitution, denial of Equal Protection under the U.S. Constitution, violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and state law claims for fraud, misrepresentation and conspiracy. Dkt. #1 at ¶ ¶ 14-23.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). However, the court is not required to accept as true a "legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 678. This requirement is met when the plaintiff "pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Absent facial plausibility, Plaintiffs' claims must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

The Court generally may not consider material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a motion to dismiss. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). However, where documents are referenced extensively in the Complaint, form the basis of Plaintiff's claim, or are subject to judicial notice, the Court may consider those documents in the context of a motion to dismiss. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908-09 (9th Cir. 2003). The Court may also take judicial notice of facts not reasonably subject to dispute because they are generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction or can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. FRE 201(b). Accordingly, the Court has taken judicial notice of and considers herein the unpublished decision by the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1, in Plasse v. Mao, et al., Appeal No. 66706-8-I, filed on October 15, 2012. Dkt. #12, Ex. A.

B. Plaintiff's Complaint

Here, taking the facts described above as true, the Court finds no support for a single claim alleged by Plaintiff against Defendants, and therefore finds that Plaintiff has failed to allege any plausible claim for relief.

1. Review of Lower Court Decision

As an initial matter, this Court agrees with Defendants that this action appears to be nothing more than an attempt to obtain a review by this Court of the State Courts' decisions in Plaintiff's underlying case. As Defendants argue, and Plaintiff admits, the Court is precluded from such review. Dkts. #12 at 5-6 and #23 at 9-10 (citing Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923)). Accordingly, the Court dismisses this matter on that basis. However, to the ...


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