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Raquinio v. Town of Kamuela

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

February 14, 2019




         Before the Court is Plaintiff Noe Kim Raquinio's (“Plaintiff”) Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP Application”), filed February 6, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint and DENIES the IFP Application.


         This 42 U.S.C. §§ 1982 and 1983 action arises from a series of traffic stops occurring on the island of Hawai‘i in January 2019. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Officer Roberg, R. Pule, and C. Meleabz violated his Constitutional right to travel and his Fourth Amendment rights, deprived him of his Constitutional rights, and retaliated against him. Compl. at 3-4. Plaintiff also identifies the Town of Kamuela; Honoka‘a, Hilo; and HPD as Defendants in the caption of his Complaint but does not list them as Defendants in Section B of the Complaint. Id. at 2. The sole potential reference to these entities is contained in the “Relief” section, where Plaintiff states: “I would like to add defendants and There [sic] departments under a seperate [sic] claim for punitive damages under section 42 U.S.C. 1983 [sic] as a separate case but related in direct relation to my current Civil No. 18-000268SOM-RLP UNDER RELATED CASES.” Id. at 5.

         Plaintiff claims to have incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and to have suffered as follows: “Threats mental anguish has left me distaught [sic] disturbed, paranoid, unsafe, squirrels, fearful of my life and loved one [sic] lives, finacially [sic] and physically disabled from previous attacks from No.18-00268SOM-RLP, Loss of liberty, right, no longer safe and surcure [sic] in my property.” Id.


         A. Dismissal of the Complaint Under the In Forma Pauperis Statute - 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         Plaintiff requests leave to proceed in forma pauperis. A court may deny leave to proceed in forma pauperis at the outset and dismiss the complaint if it appears from the face of the proposed complaint that the action: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Tripati v. First Nat'l Bank & Trust, 821 F.2d 1368, 1370 (9th Cir. 1987); Minetti v. Port of Seattle, 152 F.3d 1113, 1115 (9th Cir. 1998). When evaluating whether a complaint fails to state a viable claim for screening purposes, the Court applies Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 8's pleading standard as it does in the context of an FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012).

         FRCP 8(a) requires “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction” and “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(2). Although the Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Cmty. Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). “The Federal Rules require that averments ‘be simple, concise and direct.'” McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996). FRCP 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations. However, “it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014) (citations and quotations omitted). A claim is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678.

         In the present case, even construing Plaintiff's Complaint liberally, Bernhardt v. Los Angeles Cty., 339 F.3d 920, 925 (9th Cir. 2003); Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 757 (9th Cir. 2003), the Court finds that dismissal is appropriate because the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Section 1983 states:

Every person, who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. Substantive rights are not created by this provision; “rather it is the vehicle by whereby plaintiffs can challenge actions by governmental officials.” Cholla Ready Mix, Inc. v. Civish, 382 F.3d 969, 978 (9th Cir. 2004) (citation and quotations omitted). “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of State law.” Long v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted).

         Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to support his legal claims. He recounts the traffic stops that form the basis of this action but has not explained how Defendants' conduct amounts to constitutional violations. It appears that a portion of subsection C of the “Statement of Claim” section of the Complaint was cut off. The Court is unable to determine what additional facts might have been included in the missing portion.

         Moreover, according to the “Relief” section, Plaintiff wants this action, at least in part, to constitute a separate claim for punitive damages related to Civil No. 18-00268 SOM-RLP. Under § 1983, entitlement to punitive damages requires a “reckless or callous disregard for the plaintiff's rights, as well as intentional violations of federal law. ” Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 51 (1983). Punitive damages are not available against a municipality under § 1983 but are available against an official in his individual capacity. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 167 n.13 (1985); Newport v. Facts Concerts, Inc., 453 U.S. 247, 271 (1981). A ...

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