United States District Court, D. Hawaii
E. DRAKE, Plaintiff,
MERCEDES BENZ USA, AND AUTOHAUS LLC, Defendants.
ORDER DISMISSING “PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL
COMPLAINT” WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND RESERVING RULING ON
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
E. Kobayashi United States District Judge.
August 29, 2016, pro se Plaintiff Eric Drake
(“Plaintiff”) filed “Plaintiff's
Original Complaint” (“Complaint”) and a
Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis
(“Application”). [Dkt. nos. 1, 2.] The Court has
considered these matters without a hearing pursuant to Rule
LR7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States
District Court for the District of Hawai`i (“Local
Rules”). After careful consideration of the Complaint
and the relevant legal authority, this Court HEREBY DISMISSES
the Complaint WITHOUT PREJUDICE - in other words, Plaintiff
has LEAVE TO FILE an amended complaint. This Court will
reserve ruling on the Motion until Plaintiff files his
Defendants in this action are Mercedes Benz USA
(“MBUSA”) and Autohaus LLC (“AH, ”
collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff alleges
that jurisdiction and venue are proper in this district court
because “AH sells automobiles in Hawaii” and
“MBUSA sells automobile parts in Hawaii County, Hawaii
and worldwide.” [Complaint at pg. 1.] However, the events
that form the basis of Plaintiff's claims occurred in
Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. [Id. at ¶ 6.]
Although Plaintiff alleges that Defendants each
“expected or should have expected that its acts would
have consequences within the United States, ”
[id. at ¶ 9, ] he does not allege that
Defendants' actions had any consequences in Hawai`i.
Plaintiff states he is “a citizen of the United States,
” [id. at ¶ 6, ] and his address of
record is a Texas address [id. at pg. 26]. Based on
the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff has no apparent
ties to Hawai`i.
alleges that: he purchased a Mercedes Benz spoiler from AH on
May 27, 2014; and MBUSA sold the spoiler to him through AH.
[Id. at ¶ 12.] According to Plaintiff,
“the spoiler was defective because the product label
had a pass [sic] due expiration date” and, because of
the age of the tape, it would not “properly adhere to
the deck-lid (or trunk) of the car without its
failing.” [Id.] Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants' conduct in selling the defective spoiler
constituted deceptive trade practices, in violation of the
Texas Deceptive Trade Practice statute and federal antitrust
laws. [Id. at ¶¶ 12-14.] In addition,
Plaintiff alleges that AH discriminated against him because
of his race when he attempted to return the spoiler, and also
discriminated against him on a prior occasion when he
attempted to purchase a vehicle from AH. He further alleges
that AH's counsel committed ethical violations when
Plaintiff retained an attorney to try to negotiate with
AH's counsel to settle Plaintiff's disputes with AH.
[Id. at ¶¶ 15-20.]
alleges the following claims: race discrimination, in
violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983;
deprivation of his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a; gross
negligence; fraud; breach of contract; antitrust
violations/deceptive and unfair trade practices; a claim for
specific performance; a claim seeking exemplary damages and
the imposition of vicarious liability based on conspiracy,
actual authority agency liability, and respondeat superior;
negligence and negligent misrepresentation; a claim for
declaratory relief; intentional infliction of emotional
distress; and a claim seeking attorney's fees, costs, and
interest. [Id. at pgs. 7-24.]
courts can authorize the commencement of any suit without
prepayment of fees or security by a person who submits an
affidavit that demonstrates he is unable to pay.”
Smallwood v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation, CV. NO.
16-00505 DKW-KJM, 2016 WL 4974948, at *1 (D. Hawai`i Sept.
16, 2016) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1)).
The Court subjects each civil action commenced pursuant to
Section 1915(a) to mandatory screening and can order the
dismissal of any claims it finds “frivolous, malicious,
failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
seeking monetary relief from a defendant immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc)
(stating that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) “not only
permits but requires” the court to sua sponte
dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to
state a claim); Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845
(9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (holding that “the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited
Id. at *3.
addition, this Court has recognized that the following
standards apply in the screening analysis:
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 (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 (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 (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 (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. Hawai`i Sept. 5, 2013) (alterations
in Mather) ...