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Cataluna v. Vanderford

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

December 12, 2014


Mary Gold Cataluna, Plaintiff, Pro se, Honolulu, HI.


Leslie E. Kobayashi, United States District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Mary Gold Cataluna (" Plaintiff") filed her original Complaint on October 22, 2014. On October 27, 2014, the magistrate judge issued his findings and recommendation (" F& R"), which recommended, inter alia, that this Court dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice. [Dkt. no. 4.] Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint on November 7, 2014. [Dkt. nos. 5, 5-1.[1] This Court adopted the F& R on November 18, 2014. [Dkt. no. 6.] This Court has screened Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, and rules as set forth below.


Plaintiff lives in an apartment within the Mayor Wright Homes (" Mayor Wright"), a federally subsidized housing facility operated by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (" HPHA"). She alleges that Defendant Vincent Vanderford (" Vanderford"), another Mayor Wright resident, has been harassing her since 2010. [Amended Complaint (dkt. no. 5) at 22-26.[2] She has attempted to address the harassment by, inter alia : reporting it to the Honolulu Police Department (" HPD"); reporting it to Mayor Wright security; applying for a temporary restraining order in state court (her application was denied); and requesting grievance hearings before the HPHA. Plaintiff alleges that Mayor Wright personnel have protected Vanderford and disregarded her complaints because he is of Native Hawaiian ancestry and she is not. In 2010, Plaintiff reported housing discrimination in violation of federal fair housing laws to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (" HUD"). [Id. at 24-26, 28-31.] The Amended Complaint does not indicate the outcome of either Plaintiff's reports to HPHA or her report to HUD.

Plaintiff appears to allege that, as a result of the harassment, she suffered financial hardship, and she and her minor daughter suffered various physical injuries. [Id. at 2-18.] Plaintiff and her daughter sought medical care for these injuries and other conditions at, inter alia, Defendant " Queens hospital" (" Queens"). [Amended Complaint (dkt. no. 5-1) at 35-64.]

Plaintiff also expresses various concerns about the conditions at Mayor Wright, including: she has no right to secure her apartment with a personal lock, and therefore anyone with a duplicate key can gain access; and there was a concealed camera in her apartment. [Id. (dkt. no. 5) at 32-33, (dkt. no. 5-1) at 33-34.] Plaintiff also appears to have various disputes with her daughter's school, Defendant Kaiulani Elementary School (" KES"). The disputes address, inter alia, bullying at school and the denial of Plaintiff's request for a geographic exception for her daughter. [ Id. at 55-58, (dkt. no. 5-1) at 83).] She has provided a letter from the Department of Education, Office of the Deputy Superintendent, dated May 28, 2013, stating that " an investigation related to allegations of noncompliance of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) and/or Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Chapter 60 will be conducted." [ Id. (dkt. no. 5-1) at 74.] The Amended Complaint does not include information about the outcome of the investigation.

In addition, the Amended Complaint includes various documents which show that Plaintiff has concerns about and/or has made various types of complaints regarding: the detention of her daughter's father at the Federal Detention Center; his eventual deportation; her termination from her job; her unemployment and disability benefits; being taunted by a postal service worker; denial of her medication; road work near her residence; and various consumer complaints.


This Court has recognized that the following standard applies to the screening of a complaint by a pro se plaintiff:

Plaintiff is appearing pro se; consequently, the court liberally construes her pleadings. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (" The Supreme Court has instructed the federal courts to liberally construe the 'inartful pleading' of pro se litigants." (citing Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365, 102 S.Ct. 700, 70 L.Ed.2d 551 (1982) (per curiam))). The court also recognizes that " [u]nless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defect . . . a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the action." Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 (9th. [sic] Cir. 2000).
Despite the liberal pro se pleading standard, the court may dismiss a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on its own motion. See Omar v. Sea--Land Serv., Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987) (" A trial court may dismiss a claim sua sponte under [Rule] 12(b)(6). Such a dismissal may be made without notice where the claimant cannot possibly win relief."); Ricotta v. California, 4 F.Supp.2d 961, 968 n.7 (S.D. Cal. 1998) (" The Court can dismiss a claim sua sponte for a Defendant who has not filed a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)."); see also Baker v. Dir., U.S. Parole Comm'n, 916 F.2d 725, 727, 286 U.S.App.D.C. 310 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (holding that district court may dismiss cases sua sponte pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) without notice where plaintiff could not prevail on complaint as alleged). Additionally, a paid complaint that is " obviously frivolous" does not confer federal subject matter jurisdiction and may be dismissed sua sponte before service of process. Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227 n.6 (9th Cir. 1984); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3); Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global Group, L.P., 541 U.S. 567, 593, 124 S.Ct. 1920, 158 L.Ed.2d 866 (2004) (" [I]t is the obligation of both district court and counsel to be alert to jurisdictional requirements."). " Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, " possessing " only that power authorized by Constitution and statute." United States v. Marks, 530 F.3d 799, 810 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994)). The assumption is that the district court lacks jurisdiction. See Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Accordingly, a " party invoking the federal court's jurisdiction has the burden of proving the actual existence of subject matter jurisdiction." Thompson v. McCombe, 99 F.3d 352, 353 (9th Cir. 1996).

Mather v. Nakasone, Civil No. 13-00436 LEK-KSC, 2013 WL 4788930, at *1-2 (D. Hawaii Sept. 5, 2013) (alterations in Mather) (citation omitted).


I. Federal Claims

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, liberally construed, appears to allege the following claims under federal law: violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (" IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq., at KES; and violations of the Fair Housing Act (" FHA"), 42 U.S.C. ยง 3601, ...

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