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Dimitrov v. Taele

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 18, 2019

TEODOR DIMITROV; BORIS DIMITROV; DARIA DIMITROV; SOFRONII DIMITROV, Plaintiffs,
v.
MAILI TAELE; CAROLINE COBANGBANG; JACOB DELAPLANE; JOHN C. THOMPSON, Defendants.

          ORDER (1) DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND (2) DENYING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          JILL A. OTAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Teodor Dimitrov's (“Plaintiff”) Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP Application”), filed June 12, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint and DENIES the IFP Application.

         BACKGROUND

         This action appears to arise from a Hawai‘i family court proceeding that resulted in the placement into state custody of Plaintiff's three minor children. Plaintiff alleges that he and his children were denied a fair trial under the Constitution and that their rights as dual citizens of the United State and Bulgaria were denied.

         DISCUSSION

         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 the 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 basis for jurisdiction is unclear and the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Federal courts are presumed to lack subject matter jurisdiction, and the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that subject matter jurisdiction is proper. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). If the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, an action must be dismissed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Here, Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden of establishing that subject matter jurisdiction exists. He alleges, in conclusory fashion, that his Constitutional rights were violated. However, he does not identify the federal provisions upon which he bases his claims.

         Additionally, the crux of Plaintiff s allegations-that his children are illegally in state custody because of flawed family court procedures-implicate the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which “prohibits a federal district court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over a suit that is a de facto appeal from a state court judgment.” Kougasian v. TMSL, Inc., 359 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted); Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005) (holding that Rooker-Feldman is confined to “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments”).

If a federal plaintiff asserts as a legal wrong an allegedly erroneous decision by a state court, and seeks relief from a state court judgment based on that decision, Rooker-Feldman bars subject matter jurisdiction in federal district court. If, on the other hand, a federal plaintiff asserts as a legal wrong an allegedly illegal act or omission by an adverse party, Rooker-Feldman does not bar jurisdiction. If there is simultaneously pending federal and state court litigation between the two parties dealing with the same or related issues, the federal district court in some circumstances may abstain or stay proceedings; or if there has been state court litigation that has already gone to judgment, the federal suit may be claim-[or issue-] precluded under [28 U.S.C.] § 1738. But in neither of these circumstances does Rooker-Feldman bar jurisdiction.

Kougasian, 359 F.3d at 1140. Although the Complaint is not artfully pled, it suggests that Plaintiff might be challenging a family court judgment. Without clarification, the Court is unable to determine whether Rooker-Feldman bars jurisdiction.

         Not only is the existence of jurisdiction unclear, even assuming jurisdiction exists, Plaintiff does not articulate adequate facts or law to support his claims. He does not identify legal claims, nor any facts corresponding to those claims. ...


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