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Oyadomari v. Sutherland-Choy

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 6, 2020

SUTHERLAND-CHOY, et al., Defendants.



         On December 10, 2019, Plaintiff William K. Oyadomari (“Plaintiff”), who is self-represented and not incarcerated, filed a civil Complaint, ECF No. 1, against “Sutherland-Choy” and the “Honolulu Police.”[1] On December 27, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs (“Application”). ECF No. 4. Upon consideration of the Application and the financial information provided in support, the Court finds that Plaintiff does not provide sufficient information regarding his financial status, and therefore the Application is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Moreover, upon screening the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B),[2] for the following reasons, the Court concludes the Complaint fails to state a claim. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         Plaintiff indicates in his Application that he “receive[s] [$]744.00 monthly, ” which is composed of “[r]ent payments, interest, or dividends” and “[d]isability, or worker's compensation payments, ” and that his regularly monthly expenses total $540.00. App. at 1-2. Although Plaintiff was directed in the Application to “describe . . . each source of money and state the amount that [he] received and what [he] expect[s] to receive in the future, ” Plaintiff did not describe each source but instead only generally stated, “I receive 744.00 monthly.” App. at 1 (emphasis added). Plaintiff also asserts that he does not have any money in cash or in a checking or savings account, does not own anything of value, nor does he have any debts or financial obligations. See App at 2.

         “When a claim of poverty is made under section 1915 ‘it is proper and indeed essential for the supporting affidavits to state the facts as to affiant's poverty with some particularity, definiteness and certainty.” United States v. McQuade, 647 F.2d 938, 940 (9th Cir. 1981) (quoting Jefferson v. United States, 277 F.2d 723, 725 (9th Cir. 1960)) (emphasis added). Because Plaintiff did not fully complete the Application, it is unclear to the Court how Plaintiff earns “[r]ent payments, interest, or dividends” when he does not own anything of value nor have any money in a checking or savings account. The Court is therefore unable to ascertain whether Plaintiff is a pauper and cannot afford to prepay the costs of initiating this action. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Application is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         Moreover, upon screening the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court concludes the Complaint fails to state a claim. A liberal construction of Plaintiff's Complaint, see Eldredge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (“The Supreme Court has instructed federal courts to liberally construe the ‘inartful pleading' of pro se litigants.'” (citation omitted)), demonstrates that Plaintiff asserts some kind of violation of medical privacy laws such as HIPAA.[3] Plaintiff alleges: (1) he was in Dr. Sutherland-Choy's office when a male undercover H.P.D. officer posed as a student and “spoke” with Plaintiff and “ask[ed]” Plaintiff “questions about [his] once a month Abilify shot”; (2) this violated Plaintiff's rights because “police don't have legal law/s to be in a doctors [sic] office . . . due to medical protection act/s.” Compl. ¶¶ 3, 5.[4]

         However, “[t]here is no express or implied private cause of action contained in HIPAA.” Robinson v. Tripler Army Med. Ctr., CIV. NO. 04-00672 HG-KSC, 2005 WL 8158959 (D. Haw. 2005) (citing Logan v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 357 F.Supp.2d 149, 155 (D.D.C. 2004) (other citation omitted). Again construing Plaintiff's Complaint liberally, it thus appears that Plaintiff asserts a cause of action under state law, although he does not identify what specific law was violated, and how and when it was violated. But even if Plaintiff asserted a valid state law claim, the Complaint is devoid of any explanation as to why the Court may exercise jurisdiction over it. Federal district courts have original jurisdiction over cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and where the matter in controversy is between citizens of different states. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Complete diversity of citizenship requires that each of the plaintiffs be a citizen of a different state than each of the defendants. See Williams v. United Airlines, Inc., 500 F.3d 1019, 1025 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 553 (2005)); Morris v. Princess Cruises, Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir. 2001). Here, the Complaint does not assert the amount in controversy, but merely states that Plaintiff seeks “a lumpsum settlement.” Compl. at 2. Further, Plaintiff fails to allege his citizenship or that of the Defendants.[5]

         The Court observes that Plaintiff may be asserting a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for an unlawful search against the Honolulu Police Department because he states: “no [one] notified me of police nor showed me a court order on police[']s behalf[] to be in Hale-o-ulu property (school).” Compl. ¶ 9. To the extent Plaintiff may bring a § 1983 claim against the City and County of Honolulu, which would be the proper municipal defendant, [6] Plaintiff does not indicate what Hale-o-lulu School is, the connection between him and the school, or any other specific allegations, such as when the alleged incidents occurred.

         For all of these reasons, Plaintiff fails to comply with the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, that complaints must include a “short and plain statement of the claim, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), and contain allegations that are “simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). The Ninth Circuit has explained why requiring concise and direct allegations in a complaint is so important, and the troubles that befall litigants and courts if claims proceed on inadequately pled complaints:

Prolix, confusing complaints such as the ones plaintiffs filed in this case impose unfair burdens on litigants and judges. As a practical matter, the judge and opposing counsel, in order to perform their responsibilities, cannot use a complaint such as the one plaintiffs filed, and must prepare outlines to determine who is being sued for what. Defendants are then put at risk that their outline differs from the judge's, that plaintiffs will surprise them with something new at trial which they reasonably did not understand to be in the case at all, and that res judicata effects of settlement or judgment will be different from what they reasonably expected.
The judge wastes half a day in chambers preparing the “short and plain statement” which Rule 8 obligated plaintiffs to submit. He [or she] then must manage the litigation without knowing what claims are made against whom. This leads to discovery disputes and lengthy trials, prejudicing litigants in other case[s] who follow the rules, as well as defendants in the case in which the prolix pleading is filed.

McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179-80 (9th Cir. 1996).

         Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted, and the Complaint is therefore DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Together with payment of the civil filing fee or an amended and completed Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs, Plaintiff may file an amended complaint naming the correct defendants and addressing the foregoing deficiencies no later than January 27, 2020. Failure to do so will result in an AUTOMATIC DISMISSAL of this action.

         IT IS ...

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