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Slezak v. Subaru Corp.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

March 28, 2019

RICHARD SLEZAK, Plaintiff,
v.
SUBARU CORPORATION, SUBARU OF AMERICA, DOES 1-25, Defendants.

          ORDER (1) GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FEES OR COSTS; AND (2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART WITH PARTIAL LEAVE TO AMEND [1]

          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge

         On October 19, 2018, Plaintiff Richard Slezak, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against Subaru Corporation, Subaru of America (Subaru Corporation and Subaru of America, together, the “Subaru Defendants”), and Does 1-25 (Does 1-25 and the Subaru Defendants, collectively, “Defendants”). Dkt. No. 1. Slezak subsequently filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Application”).[2]Dkt. No. 6.

         I. Slezak's IFP Application

         Federal courts can authorize the commencement of any suit without prepayment of fees or security by a person who submits an affidavit that demonstrates an inability to pay. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). While Section 1915(a) does not require a litigant to demonstrate absolute destitution, Adkins v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948), the applicant must nonetheless show that he is “unable to pay such fees or give security therefor, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

         Here, Slezak has made the required showing under Section 1915(a). In the IFP Application, Slezak states that he is unemployed and has received no pay during 2019. Further, Slezak states that he receives approximately $400 a year from a “few shares” he owns, has $400 in a checking or savings account, and owns a 2014 Subaru for which he does not know the value and is the subject of this litigation. Slezak does state, though, that he owns real estate on Maui that is worth “millions, ” but, he claims, is “now unusable.” He also states that he is homeless. Further, Slezak does not report any monthly expenses, but states that he owes $15, 000 to the U.S. Department of Education, $2, 000 to $3, 000 in real estate taxes, and $1, 900 in credit card debt.

         Although these figures do not necessarily shed a complete or coherent picture on the state of Slezak's finances, given that Slezak states that he is unemployed, it appears that his income falls below the poverty threshold identified by the Department of Health and Human Services' (“HHS”) 2019 Poverty Guidelines. See HHS Poverty Guidelines, available at: https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines. In addition, at this juncture, the Court cannot say that Slezak has sufficient assets to provide security. As a result, the Court GRANTS the IFP Application, Dkt. No. 6, with the proviso that, should a more coherent picture of Slezak's finances become available later in this case, the Court will be prepared to re-visit this decision.

         II. Screening of Slezak's Complaint

          The Court liberally construes the pro se Complaint. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the Court cannot act as counsel for a pro se litigant or supply the essential elements of a claim. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004); Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

         In his Complaint, Slezak purports to bring five claims related to a Subaru vehicle he purchased on February 14, 2014. Those claims are: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of implied warranties; (3) violation of the Magnuson Moss Act (MMA); (4) breach of express warranties; and (5) punitive damages. The Court addresses each purported claim below.

         1. Breach of Contract

         The Complaint alleges that Slezak's vehicle is “currently in the possession” of Servco Subaru of Maui and has been so “for the past two days.” It is further alleged that “[n]o one has said if any repairs will be done or if it will be covered by warranty.”

         The Complaint, however, does not allege that Slezak and the named defendants, i.e., the Subaru Defendants, have entered into any contract. Instead, the Complaint only asserts that Slezak has purchased a vehicle manufactured by the Subaru Corporation. Further, even if there was a contract, the Complaint does not allege that the Subaru Defendants have breached any provision of the same. Instead, the Complaint alleges that Slezak's vehicle is currently in the possession of Servco Subaru of Maui-an unnamed defendant-and no one at Servco Subaru of Maui has said whether any repairs will be done. The Complaint also fails to identify, among other things, the provision of any contract with Servco Subaru (or with anyone else) that has been breached. See Honold v. Deutsche Bank. Nat'l Trust Co., 2010 WL 5174383, at *3 (D. Haw. Dec. 15, 2010) (dismissing a breach-of-contract claim for failure to identify the contract at issue, the parties to the contract, whether the plaintiff performed under the contract, the particular provision of the contract allegedly violated, and how the defendants allegedly breached the contract).

         As a result, the Court DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE and with leave to amend Slezak's claim for breach of contract.

         2. Breach of ...


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