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Emrit v. Secretary of State of Hawaii

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 20, 2017



          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge.


         On November 13, 2017, Ronald Satish Emrit, proceeding pro se, filed a First Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 10) that once again attempts to assert federal civil rights claims against the Secretary of State of Hawaii and the Democratic Party of Hawaii, alleging that he was unlawfully denied placement on the ballot for the presidential election in 2016. This action is one of the numerous, identical lawsuits Emrit has filed this year alone. The First Amended Complaint, however, suffers from many of the same deficiencies as Emrit's initial Complaint, previously identified in the October 17, 2017 Findings and Recommendation, adopted by the Court on November 6, 2017. Dkt. Nos. 4 (10/17/17 F&R) and 6 (11/6/17 Order Adopting F&R).[1] Because Emrit once more fails to state a claim for relief, the First Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The Court also DENIES as moot all pending motions, as discussed more fully below.[2]


         Because Emrit is appearing pro se, the Court liberally construes his filings. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); 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 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 Crowley v. Bannister, 734 F.3d 967, 977-78 (9th Cir. 2013). Although he is proceeding pro se, Emrit is more than familiar with his federal court filing and pleading responsibilities, given his numerous prior actions.[3]

         I. The FAC Is Dismissed For Failure To State A Claim

         Upon review of the FAC, the Court finds that Emrit again fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.[4]

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court subjects each civil action commenced pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 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).

         Dismissal is proper when there is either a “‘lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged.'” UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners, LLC, 718 F.3d 1006, 1014 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990)). A plaintiff must allege “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Weber v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 521 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2008). This tenet - that the court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint - “is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Accordingly, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); see also Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011) (“[A]llegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively.”).

         “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Factual allegations that only permit the Court to infer “the mere possibility of misconduct” do not show that the pleader is entitled to relief as required by Rule 8. Id. at 679.

         B. The FAC Fails To State A Claim For Relief

         As a preliminary matter, the Court observes that Emrit has filed identical actions against other states, which have been summarily dismissed pursuant to the district courts' Section 1915 screening.[5] For example, the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana dismissed his claims against the Secretary of State of Indiana and the Democratic Party of Indiana, finding that Emrit's allegations that “his constitutional rights were violated when the defendants refused to place him on the ballot for the primary and general presidential election in 2016, ” failed to state a claim for violation of his equal protection and due process rights, under Title VII or the ADA, and for breach of contract or negligence. Emrit v. Lawson, 2017 WL 4699279, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 19, 2017). Likewise here, Emrit's allegation that “there is no compelling government objective in requiring him to obtain a minimum number of petitions/signatures such that he can be placed on the ballot in this state for the primary and general elections in 2016 (already passed) and again in 2020 (in the future of course), ” FAC ¶ 79, fails to state a claim and “is frivolous.” Lawson, 2017 WL 4699279, at *2. First, Emrit fails to include any relevant facts or legal authority in support of his claim, such as the applicable Hawai‘i regulation or party rule requiring petitions or signatures, whether he even attempted to comply with the requirements previously, and who excluded him from participation.[6] Second, Emrit's vague constitutional claim fails as a matter of law. See Lawson, 2017 WL 4699279, at *2 (“Emrit does not challenge the number of petitions or any other specific requirement other than he apparently disagrees with having to submit any petitions because he believes there is no good reason for the requirement. To the contrary, the Constitution confers upon the states broad authority to regulate the conduct of elections.”) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). Indeed, as noted by several courts, notwithstanding Emrit's claims, signature and petition requirements are “not only constitutional but [also] make[] common sense that the government must put in place a structure for elections.” Lawson, 2017 WL 4699279, at *2 (“Emrit's allegation that there is no compelling governmental justification for the requirement that prospective candidates must file a certain number of petitions signed by voters of the state along with a declaration of candidacy is frivolous.”).

         Beyond these core deficiencies, the FAC suffers from several of the same deficiencies identified in the original Complaint. First, the FAC yet again fails to comply with Rule 8, which mandates that a complaint include a “short and plain statement of the claim, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and that “each allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). A complaint that is so confusing that its “‘true substance, if any, is well disguised'” may be dismissed sua sponte for failure to satisfy Rule 8. Hearns v. San Bernardino Police Dep't, 530 F.3d 1124, 1131 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Gillibeau v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 431 (9th Cir. 1969)); see also McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178-80 (9th Cir. 1996) (affirming dismissal of complaint where “one cannot determine from the complaint who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough detail to guide discovery”). That is the case here. Even applying the most liberal pleading standard, the Court cannot discern the conduct of ...

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