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Chun v. Rodman

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 11, 2018

CURTIS P. CHUN, Plaintiff,
LAURIE JAN RODMAN, et al., Defendants.


          Deirick K. Watson United States District Judge


         On September 4, 2018, Plaintiff Curtis P. Chun, proceeding pro se, filed a Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) alleging violations of his federal civil rights (Dkt. No. 32), attempting to cure the deficiencies in his prior submissions that are described in the Court's May 17 and June 13, 2018 Orders.[1] The SAC, like its predecessors, challenges previous and ongoing proceedings involving Chun and his family members in state court, and once more fails to allege facts demonstrating that Chun's rights have been violated or that he is plausibly entitled to relief from any defendant. Because Chun once more fails to state a claim for relief, and because the Court determines that further leave to amend would be futile, the SAC is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).[2]


         Because Chun 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).

         I. The SAC Is Dismissed For Failure to State a Claim

         Upon review of the SAC, the Court finds that Chun again fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. As before, even liberally construed, the SAC fails to allege any discernable basis for judicial relief against any party and fails to cure the deficiencies noted by the Court in its earlier Orders.

         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. For the reasons that follow, Chun again fails to meet this standard.

         B. The SAC Fails to State a Claim

         As a preliminary matter, the Court observes that Chun has failed to cure the deficiencies noted in the Court's 5/17/18 and 6/13/18 Orders, particularly the lack of cognizable legal theories or coherent facts regarding his claims. The SAC, in other words, repeats the very same deficiencies previously discussed in the Court's Orders.[3] Although Chun appears to name only his sister Laurie Jan Rodman, and her husband, Thomas Rodman, as defendants in the SAC, he again alleges that his family members violated his federal civil rights during the course of past or present state court proceedings, but does not cure the deficiencies previously identified with respect to the same allegations against the same parties. Chun now asserts that his Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated and that he has suffered discrimination due to his unspecified disabilities.[4] Assuming the truth of his allegations, however, dismissal of the SAC is necessary due to the “lack of a cognizable legal theory [and] the absence of sufficient facts alleged.'” UMG Recordings, Inc., 718 F.3d at 1014.

         As noted in the Court's prior Orders, Chun is involved in an ongoing dispute with his sister and her husband, relating to his sister's guardianship, trust relationship, and conservatorship over one or more of their parent's affairs. The SAC repeats several of his previous grievances, and includes additional allegations regarding the circumstances that resulted in family court proceedings and/or Chun's eviction from his parents' home. Chun alleges three Counts in the SAC: (1) disability discrimination (Count 1); (2) cruel and unusual punishment (Count 2); and (3) denial of due process and equal protection (Count 3). He asserts that the state family court proceedings, including the temporary restraining order (“TRO”) entered against him pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) Chapter 586, “deprived [him] of life, liberty, and or property, by forceful evict[ion] into homelessness.” SAC at 5. He also asserts that HRS Chapter 586 “dilutes justice of ‘due process of law' furthering hearing prolongation, consequently disadvantaged recollection of information and its accuracy completeness and wholeness … 586 lacks equal protection of rights by placing ...

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