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Lyons v. Pacific County Clerk

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

April 16, 2019

BILLY D. LYONS, Plaintiff,
v.
PACIFIC COUNTY CLERK; ERIC SCHMIDT, Court of Appeals Commissioner; and ERIN L. LENNON, Supreme Court Clerk, Defendant.

          ORDER

          RONALD B. LEIGHTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on State Judicial Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. #11]. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED and Lyons' claims against these defendants are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         FACTS

         This is the third lawsuit Lyons has filed in federal district regarding the same subject matter. See Lyons v. Pacific County, et al., Cause No. 16-cv-5256RBL, and Lyons v. Pacific County, et al., Cause No. 17-5335RBL. All three cases arise out of a lawsuit Lyons originally filed in Pacific County Superior Court in 2006 against his former business partner. Dkt. 1 at 1-2, No. C16-5256RBL (Apr. 5, 2017)), at 1.[1] In all three cases, Lyons appears to be complaining about the judicial assignment made in his underlying state court lawsuit from 2006.

         According to Lyons, his 2006 state court lawsuit was originally assigned to one judge, but later reassigned to another. Dkt. 1 at 1. Lyons appears to fault the Pacific County Clerk for this action. Id.

         Lyons subsequently filed two different actions in this Court seeking to challenge the judicial assignment in the state court case. Dkt. 10 at 1-2 (citing Lyons v. Pacific County, et al., Cause No. 16-cv-5256RBL, and Lyons v. Pacific County, et al., Cause No. 17-5335RBL). In both cases, Lyons' claims were dismissed as frivolous and barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.

         Lyons alleges that he sought discretionary review of the trial court's judicial assignment decision to the Washington State Court of Appeals, and that the Court of Appeals Commissioner denied review based on what Lyons considers to be “misleading untrue allegations.” Dkt. 1 at 1. In fact, the Court of Appeals Commissioner disposed of Lyons' appeal of the 2006 case because it was untimely. When Lyons later tried to appeal the same trial court issue under a new cause number, the Court of Appeals Commissioner noted that he “cannot challenge any of the decisions in the 2006 case under this new cause number, ” and further that Lyons had not “identified any act of the trial court under this new cause number.”

         Lyons further alleges that he appealed the Court of Appeals Commissioner's ruling to Supreme Court Deputy Clerk Erin Lennon, who told Lyons he must include a copy of the superior court decision he is seeking to challenge with his appeal. Dkt. 1 at 1-2. Ultimately, Lyons' Supreme Court filings did not go anywhere because it became apparent he was improperly trying to seek Supreme Court review of a decision by a Court of Appeals Commissioner.

         Unhappy with the result of his attempted appeals, Lyons filed this lawsuit against the Court of Appeals Commissioner, the Supreme Court Deputy Clerk, and the Pacific County Clerk. Dkt. 1.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standard for Dismissal Under Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and 12(h)(3)

         The question of subject matter jurisdiction is properly raised by a party through a motion under Rule 12(b)(1), but, may be considered by the Court at any time pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3). United States v. Moreno-Morillo, 334 F.3d 819, 830 (9th Cir. 2003). Once raised, “[t]he party asserting federal jurisdiction has the burden of establishing it.” Miguel v. Country Funding Corp., 309 F.3d 1161, 1164 (9th Cir. 2002).

         In addition, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8). When a pleading does not meet that standard, it may be dismissed as failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). This pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. (citations omitted). A claim must be “plausible on its face, ” and the Court should not “necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations.” Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg, 593 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2010). The Court's review can be viewed as a two-prong inquiry: “[a] complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for one of two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable legal claim.” Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530 (9th Cir. 1984).

         In motions on the pleadings under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12, the Court may look not only to those events and circumstances as alleged in the Complaint, but “a court may take judicial notice of facts outside the pleadings.” Mack v. S. Bay Beer Distribs. Inc., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986), abrogated on other grounds by Astoria Fed. Sav. and Loan Ass'n v. Solimino, 501 U.S. 104, 107-08 (1991); see also Holder v. Holder, 305 F.3d 854, 866 (9th Cir. 2002). The Court's consideration of documents outside the pleadings does not convert a Rule 12 motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment “when the ...


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