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Shavelson v. Hawaii Civil Rights Commission

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 17, 2019

EILEEN SHAVELSON, Plaintiff,
v.
HAWAII CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION, CONSTANCE DEMARTINO, WILLIAM D. HOSHIJO AND MARCUS KAWATACHI, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES AS HAWAI`I CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION ENFORCEMENT STAFF, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          Leslie E. Kobayashi, United States District Judge.

         On April 20, 2019, Defendants Constance Demartino, William D. Hoshijo, and Marcus Kawatachi (“Employee Defendants”) filed their Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (“Motion”). [Dkt. no. 77.] No party filed a memorandum in opposition, therefore this Court deems the Motion unopposed.[1] The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule LR7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii (“Local Rules”). The Employee Defendants' Motion is hereby granted for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         The factual summary of this case is set forth in this Court's July 21, 2015 Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or Alternatively, for Summary Judgment (“7/21/15 Order”), and will not be repeated here. [Dkt. no. 50.[2] On July 30, 2015, pro se Plaintiff Eileen Shavelson (“Plaintiff”) filed her Notice of Appeal, and on July 3, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued its memorandum disposition (“7/3/18 Memorandum Disposition”).[3] [Dkt. nos. 53 (Notice of Appeal), 65 (7/3/18 Mem. Dispo.).[4] In the 7/3/18 Memorandum Disposition, the Ninth Circuit affirmed this Court's ruling that Plaintiff's Sixth Amendment claim and Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim must be dismissed with prejudice, but held that “the district court should have granted Shavelson leave to amend to state an equal protection claim” under the Fourteenth Amendment. [7/3/18 Mem. Dispo. at 2-4.] The Ninth Circuit's Mandate was issued on July 25, 2019. [Dkt. no. 66.]

         On July 27, 2018, this Court issued an entering order (“7/27/18 EO”) directing Plaintiff to file her amended complaint in accordance with the Ninth Circuit's instructions. [Dkt. no. 67.] The 7/27/18 EO reemphasized the Ninth Circuit's directive that this Court should permit Plaintiff to amend her complaint to allege an equal protection claim only against the employees of the Hawai`i Civil Rights Commission (“HCRC”), “i.e. Defendants Constance DeMartino, William D. Hoshijo, and Marcus Kawatachi.” [Id. (citing 7/3/18 Mem. Dispo. at 5-6).]

         On August 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed a document titled “Amended Complaint Requested by Judge Leslie Kobayashi Aug 8, 2018 per Court Order from 9th Circuit Court of Appeals San Francisco July 25, 2018 Case 15-16525” (“Amended Complaint”). [Dkt. no. 68.] In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff appears to name the Employee Defendants and the HCRC, along with “the investigators, supervisors, director and co-director, in their individual professional capacity[ies] at HCRC.” [Amended Complaint at 1.[5]

         Plaintiff alleges that, on January 16, 2013, she filed an online complaint with the Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and received a confirmatory email noting she would be contacted by a “specialist from the local contracting agency.” [Id. at 3.] On January 18, 2013, Plaintiff was instructed to contact the HCRC in Honolulu to have them investigate her claim. Plaintiff spoke to Carolyn Vierra, an intake worker at the HCRC; Plaintiff explained to Ms. Vierra that she was discriminated against due to her disability, that her landlord retaliated against her, and she “feared that anti-semitism was also involved.” [Id. at 2-3.] Plaintiff alleges HCRC, its employees and supervisors, gave preferential treatment to “those of Japanese descent” and that “anti semitism . . . permeated the HCRC and its employees and supervisors.” [Id. at 3.] Plaintiff also appears to allege: the HCRC and HCRC attorney, Livia Wang, refused to assist Plaintiff with her dispute with her landlord;[6]the HCRC filed a false report in retaliation against Plaintiff for reporting their “suspicious and biased methods to Senator Brian Schatz”; the HCRC failed to investigate “defendants” or contact them to present settlement offers made by Plaintiff;[7] and the methods employed by the HCRC employees were biased and discriminatory. [Id. at 1-2.] Plaintiff appears to allege a claim arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and seeks six million dollars in damages. [Id. at 5.]

         STANDARD

         This Court has previously stated:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides: “After the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” “Although [Ashcroft v.] Iqbal[, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), ] establishes the standard for deciding a [Fed. R. Civ. P.] 12(b)(6) motion, we have said that Rule 12(c) is ‘functionally identical' to Rule 12(b)(6) and that ‘the same standard of review' applies to motions brought under either rule.” Cafasso ex rel. U.S. v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted and internal quotation marks omitted). On a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court must “accept as true all allegations in [the plaintiff's] complaint and treat as false those allegations in the answer that contradict [the plaintiff's] allegations.” Cell Therapeutics, Inc. v. Lash Grp., Inc., 586 F.3d 1204, 1206 n.2 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “[J]udgment on the pleadings is properly granted when there is no issue of material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law[.]” Jackson v. Barnes, 749 F.3d 755, 763 (9th Cir. 2014) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Fields v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, CIVIL 15-00015 LEK-KJM, 2017 WL 11140437, at *2 (D. Hawai`i July 18, 2017) (alterations in Fields).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Preliminary Matters

         A. HCRC

         On remand, the Ninth Circuit directed this Court to allow Plaintiff to amend her complaint to allege an equal protection claim against the HCRC employees only. [7/3/18 Mem. Dispo. at 5-6.] This Court repeated the Ninth ...


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