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Tia v. CCA Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

March 1, 2018

PETER R. TIA, Plaintiff,
CCA INC., ET AL., Defendants.




         On January 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint against CoreCivic, [1] CoreCivic employee Mark Staggs, Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) agent Rachel Bird, Walmart Store, and Straight Talk. ECF No. 14. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), the court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing. For the reasons discussed below, the court (1) DISMISSES the Amended Complaint in part pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a), and (2) ORDERS Plaintiff to show cause why his state-law claims should not be dismissed for lack of diversity jurisdiction.


         A. The Complaint

         On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed his original Complaint. ECF No. 1. Shortly thereafter, he filed applications to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) and for appointment of counsel. ECF Nos. 7-9. The Complaint alleged that on September 23 and 24, 2017, Plaintiff purchased from Walmart a smart phone and a 30-day phone card with unlimited talk, text, and data, but he did not receive one month of unlimited data. Compl. at 1-2. The remainder of the Complaint was a confusing, incoherent narrative alleging in part that various federal and state law enforcement and correctional entities in Hawaii and Tennessee, or their agents and officers, are connected to a “homosexual mafia” that is out to harm Plaintiff through (1) cutting off his data plan; (2) threatening to harm and arrest him rather than enforce his contractual rights against Walmart; and (3) seeking to kill him. Id. at 1-3. The Complaint asserted claims for “breach of duty, ” breach of contract, and “government corruption, ” id., and it sought a “court investigation, ” an injunction to protect him “from all Defendants and their illegalities, ” compensatory damages of $4 million, and $1.5 million in punitive damages. Id. at 4.

         On January 4, 2018, the court granted Plaintiff's IFP motion, dismissed his Complaint with leave to amend, and denied his motions for appointment of counsel (the “January 4 Order”). ECF No. 13. The court dismissed the Complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction (failing to establish diversity or federal question jurisdiction), as frivolous, for failure to state a claim, and for violation of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 18 (governing joinder of claims) and 20 (governing joinder of parties). Id. at 8-13. The court granted Plaintiff leave to amend, explaining that to state a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim, he must allege “(1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a federal constitutional or statutory right.” Id. at 11 (citation omitted). The January 4 Order also explained that an Amended Complaint must contain:

short, plain statements telling the court: (1) the treaty, constitutional right, or statutory right Plaintiff believes was violated; (2) the specific basis of this court's jurisdiction; (3) the name of the defendant who violated that right; (4) exactly what that defendant did or failed to do; (5) how the action or inaction of that defendant is connected to the violation of Plaintiff's rights; and (6) what specific injury Plaintiff suffered because of that defendant's conduct.

January 4 Order at 13. The court further explained that “Plaintiff should repeat this process for each person or entity that he names as a defendant[, and that] . . . any amended complaint must comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 18 and 20.” Id. 13-14. The court warned Plaintiff that “[i]f [he] fails to affirmatively link the conduct of each named defendant with the specific injury he suffered, the allegation against that defendant will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.” Id. And finally, to assist Plaintiff to comply with the January 4 Order, the court directed the Clerk of Court to mail a copy of the court's approved non-prisoner civil rights complaint form to Plaintiff. Id. at 17.

         B. The Amended Complaint

         On January 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint alleging that on September 23, 2017, he purchased a prepaid phone from Walmart and Straight Talk for $31.29. Am. Compl. ¶ III.C, ECF No. 14. On September 24, 2017, he purchased a service plan that included one month of unlimited data for $47.12, but the “data did not last more than a week.” Id. That is, “Walmart and Straight Talk fraudulently advertised but did not fulfill agreed unlimited 1 months data service!” Id. ¶ IV. As a consequence, Plaintiff allegedly suffered “8th, 14th” Amendment injuries. Id. The Amended Complaint also alleges that “Plaintiff won a state claim on this matter [in] case # 1CS17-1-3138.” Id.

         The Amended Complaint further alleges claims against Defendants CoreCivic, Staggs and Bird for “past troubles” alleged in a prior action in this district. The court takes judicial notice of that action[2] - Tia v. Staggs, et al., Civ. No. 15-00159 DKW-BMK.[3] Specifically, the Amended Complaint alleges:

Plaintiff pursuant to cited laws and U.S. const. deprivations sues defendants also Staggs and Bird due past troubles in USDC Hon. CV 15-00159 DKW-BMK reason for federal violations fraud, contractual breaches, emotional harm and injury.

Am. Compl. ¶ V.

         The Amended Complaint asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 and/or Bivens[4] for violation of the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, as well as state-law claims for breach of contract, fraud, and infliction of emotional distress. Id. ¶¶ II, III.C, IV, V. The Amended Complaint seeks $1 million in compensatory damages, $500, 000 in punitive damages, and injunctive relief to prevent future abuses. Id. ¶ V.

         The Amended Complaint does not allege the parties' citizenship, but does list a Hawaii address for Plaintiff, Tennessee addresses for CoreCivic, Staggs and Bird, and an Arkansas address for Walmart. Id. at 2-3. It does not list an address for Straight Talk or provide any other information about the location of each entity's main office and principal place of business. Id.

         C. State-Court Action

         The court also takes judicial notice of the state-court docket for Case ID #1CS171003138, which shows that on October 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed an action against Walmart. See 1SC171003138 (last visited February 22, 2018). On November 22, 2017, the parties settled Plaintiff's claim for $47.12 - the exact amount of the alleged defective phone service plan Plaintiff purchased from Walmart and/or Straight Talk. See Id. And on that same day, pursuant to the parties' agreement, the state-court case was dismissed with prejudice. Id.


         The court must subject each civil action commenced pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) to mandatory screening, and 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 dismiss sua sponte 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 to prisoners”). A complaint “is ‘frivolous' where it lacks an arguable basis either ...

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