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Jackson v. Romero

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

January 13, 2020

HEIDI L. ROMERO, et al., Defendant.


          David W. Christel United States Magistrate Judge.

         The District Court has referred this action, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel. Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6) (Dkt. 46) and Motion to Stay Discovery (“Motion to Stay, ” Dkt. 48).

         The Court finds Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in the Amended Complaint (hereinafter “Complaint”). Therefore, the Court grants the Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 46), but gives Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. The Court defers ruling on the issue of qualified immunity. Plaintiff must file an amended complaint on or before February 13, 2020. The Court also grants the Motion to Stay (Dkt. 48) and all discovery is stayed until the Court enters an order lifting the stay.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Kyntrel Trevyone Jackson was housed at Clallam Bay Corrections Center (“CBCC”) between February 2019 and June 2019 and then transferred to Washington Corrections Center (“WCC”) on June 12, 2019. Dkt. 10. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and several state and federal criminal statutes. Dkt. 10. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff for filing “legal bankruptcy” actions against Defendant Romero, and Defendants denied Plaintiff due process when he was transferred from CBCC to WCC and placed in isolation. Id. at 11.

         Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss on November 22, 2019. Dkt. 46. Plaintiff filed a Response, Defendants filed a Reply, and Plaintiff filed a Surreply. Dkt. 49, 52, 53. Defendants also filed a Motion to Stay Discovery on November 25, 2019. Dkt. 48. Plaintiff filed a Response and Defendants filed a reply. Dkt. 50, 51. As Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and Defendants did not object to the Surreply, the Court also considered Plaintiff's Surreply in ruling on the Motions.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         In February 2019, Plaintiff alleges he was transferred to the Intensive Management Unit (“IMU”) at CBCC for his protection. Dkt. 10 at 11, 57, 58; Dkt. 49 at 14. While housed in IMU, in April 2019, Plaintiff alleges he began taking “legal bankruptcy” actions against CBCC psychology associate, Defendant Heidi Romero, by sending her several letters, affidavits, and notices. Dkt. 10 at 11.

         In the letters, Plaintiff attempts to assert bankruptcy against Defendant Romero and states he is billing Defendant Romero for the damages she caused. Dkt. 10 at 11, 20. On April 28, 2019, Plaintiff sent a letter alleging Defendant Romero owes Plaintiff $765, 000 in damages. Dkt. 10 at 11, 21. Plaintiff's letter states Defendant Romero has thirty days to pay the debt in full, or Plaintiff will enter an affidavit of foreclosure, and Plaintiff will be forced to file an involuntary bankruptcy petition against Defendant Romero. Dkt. 10 at 11, 21.

         Plaintiff sent another letter on May 27, 2019, reiterating Defendant Romero's debt to Plaintiff and stating Defendant Romero must provide Plaintiff with all her personal property before he files foreclosure and a lien against her. Dkt. 10 at 11, 29. On May 28, 2019, Plaintiff sent an invoice to Defendant Romero, now stating she had incurred a debt of over $1 million. Dkt. 10 at 11, 35-38. On June 9, 2019, Plaintiff sent a third letter stating Defendant Romero is in foreclosure and Plaintiff was forcing her into involuntary bankruptcy because she refused to pay her debt. Dkt. 10 at 11, 32.

         On June 6, 2019, Plaintiff alleges a meeting was held by Defendants Irving, Brady, Bannan, Romero, Gillespie, Dittman, Long, and Carr wherein they decided Plaintiff's actions were a threat to the security of CBCC IMU, and Plaintiff was fixated on and harassing a CBCC staff member. Dkt. 10 at 11, 57-58. Plaintiff was transferred to WCC on June 12, 2019. Dkt. 10 at 12, 58. Plaintiff was placed in isolation at WCC. Dkt. 10 at 11, 58.

         III. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss can be granted only if Plaintiff's Complaint, with all factual allegations accepted as true, fails to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level”. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 570).

         A complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, et al., 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (internal citations omitted). However, the pleading must be more than an “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         While the Court must accept all the allegations contained in a complaint as true, the Court does not have to accept a “legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.; Jones v. Community Development Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984) (vague and mere conclusory allegations unsupported by facts are not sufficient to state section 1983 claims); Pena v. Gardner, 976 F.2d 469, 471 (9th Cir. 1992). While the Court is to construe a complaint liberally, such construction “may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Pena, 976 F.2d at 471.

         Where, as here, exhibits are attached to a complaint, the exhibits are deemed part of the complaint for all purposes, including for purposes of determining the sufficiency of the plaintiff's claims. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c); 5A Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 3d § 1327, at 443-44 (2002). Moreover, if an exhibit attached to a complaint contradicts an assertion in the complaint and reveals information that prohibits recovery as a matter of law, the information provided in the exhibit trumps the allegation in the complaint. Wilson v. Fitter, 2009 WL 6908049, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 5, 2009) report and recommendation adopted, 2010 WL 3893992 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2010) (citing Riggins v. Walter, 279 F.3d 422, 425-26 (7th Cir. 1995) (affirming dismissal of prisoner's § 1983 claims where information in attached exhibit contradicted allegation of complaint); Hudson v. Phillipson, 2008 WL 356884, *3 (W.D.Mich. Feb.7, 2008) (dismissing prisoner's § 1983 claims where information in attached exhibits conflicted with allegations of complaint)).

         IV. First ...

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