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Morelli v. Hyman

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 28, 2019

ANGELA MICHELLE MORELLI, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSHUA B. HYMAN, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT, ECF NO. 15, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT, ECF NO. 15, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          J. Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendant Joshua B. Hyman's (“Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss pro se Plaintiff Angela Michelle Morelli's (“Plaintiff”) Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 15. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED for failure to state a claim, with leave to amend.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On February 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed her Complaint against Defendant alleging 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for violation of unspecified constitutional and civil rights in connection with a custody dispute involving their minor child. ECF No. 1 at PageID #1, 3. The Complaint alleges that Defendant is the father of Plaintiff's young son. Id. at PageID #4. The Complaint also references numerous federal and state statutes, primarily criminal, and includes allegations of abuse by Defendant. Id. at PageID #2-6. More specifically, the Complaint alleges violations of 5 U.S.C. § 552; 18 U.S.C. §§ 242, 512, 1503, 1510, 1513, 1621, 1001, 241, and 2261A; and Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) §§ 92F-24, 708-820, and 708-906. Id. at PageID # 2-4. The Complaint refers to a “lower court order” and appears to challenge various state court orders regarding custody, child support, and other issues related to a temporary restraining order. Id. at 6. Plaintiff seeks an “award of full physical legal custody along with child support . . . [and] damages and legal fees.” Id. at PageID #7.

         On April 19, 2019, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 15. On June 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Opposition and on June 10, 2019, Defendant filed a Reply. ECF Nos. 27-28. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), the court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing.

         III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes a court to dismiss claims over which it lacks proper subject matter jurisdiction. The court may determine jurisdiction on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) so long as “the jurisdictional issue is [not] inextricable from the merits of a case . . . .” Kingman Reef Atoll Invs., L.L.C. v. United States, 541 F.3d 1189, 1195 (9th Cir. 2008). The moving party “should prevail [on a motion to dismiss] only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.” Casumpang v. Int'l Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union, 269 F.3d 1042, 1060 (9th Cir. 2001) (citation and quotation marks omitted); Tosco Corp. v. Cmtys. for a Better Env't, 236 F.3d 495, 499 (9th Cir. 2001), abrogated on other grounds by Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77 (2010).

         B. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a motion to dismiss for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Dismissal is appropriate where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or if its factual allegations do not support a cognizable legal theory. Hartmann v. Cal. Dep't of Corr. & Rehab., 707 F.3d 1114, 1122 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Mendiondo v. Centinela Hosp. Med. Ctr., 521 F.3d 1097, 1104 (9th Cir. 2008)). The court may also “dismiss a complaint sua sponte under [Rule] 12(b)(6) . . . without notice where the claimant cannot possibly win relief.” Omar v. Sea-Land Serv., Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987); see also Barnard v. U.S. Gov't, 635 Fed.Appx. 388, 388 (9th Cir. 2016) (affirming sua sponte dismissal of complaint where the “claims lacked any arguable basis in law or fact”).

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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, ” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Rather, “[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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Factual allegations that only permit the court to infer “the mere possibility of misconduct” or “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation[s]” fall short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         C. Pro Se Pleadings

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court liberally construes her Complaint and resolves all doubts in her favor. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). The court must grant leave to amend if it appears that Plaintiff can correct the defects in her Complaint, Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000), but if a claim or complaint cannot be saved by amendment, dismissal with prejudice is appropriate. Sylvia Landfield Tr. v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013); see also Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Pub., 512 F.3d 522, 532 (9th Cir. 2008) (reiterating that a district court may deny leave to amend for, among other reasons “repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed . . . [and] futility of amendment”) (citation omitted).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint, arguing that the Complaint fails to assert a cognizable basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction. The court agrees.

         A. Subject ...


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