United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS
PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT, ECF NOS. 35,
Michael Seabright Chief United States District Judge.
the court are separate motions by Defendants Joshua B. Hyman
(“Hyman”) and the State of Hawaii (the
“State”) (collectively, “Defendants”)
to dismiss pro se Plaintiff Angela Michelle Morelli's
(“Plaintiff”) First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”). ECF Nos. 35, 54. For the reasons set
forth below, the Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED. Plaintiff is
GRANTED leave to amend her claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for prospective injunctive relief against an individual
non-judicial state official. All other claims are dismissed
without leave to amend.
February 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Hyman
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,
well as 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. ECF No. 1 at
PageID #1-4. On June 28, 2019, this court granted Hyman's
Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, dismissing Plaintiff's
§ 1983 claims with leave to amend and dismissing all
other federal claims without leave to amend (the “June
28 Order”). ECF No. 31. As set forth in the June 28
Order, Plaintiff's § 1983 claims were deficient, in
part, because she failed to allege facts showing that Hyman
acted under color of state law. Id. at PageID
25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”) against both Hyman and the State of
Hawaii. ECF No. 32. The FAC asserts § 1983 claims for
violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights to due
process and against involuntary servitude as protected by the
Fifth, Thirteenth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments. The FAC
alleges that Hyman has a “peculiar relationship with
the [Maui Police Department (“MPD”)], ”
based on Hyman's alleged actions to “remove himself
from investigation” for two unrelated crimes.
Id. at PageID #516. The FAC further alleges that
Hyman in joint action with the [Maui Police Department
(“MPD”)], violated constitutional right of life,
liberty and property, with symbiotic relationship to remove
due process to not allow a victimless investigation after 911
was called on February 21, 2016. Police did not even note
that the 10 month old ABH was present. Also, did not document
the injuries on Morelli's face and chest, pictures taken
were time stamped within minutes of calling 911. Further
risking the safety of both Morelli and ABH during a Felony
assault and further abuse applicated by Hyman. Hyman
mysteriously was not arrested by violating VAWA unregistered
shotgun that he turned over when served the TRO August 11,
Hyman continues to violate Morelli's constitutional
rights in joint action during the Hyman vs. Morelli, by using
false testimony, false and altered evidence, in conspiracy as
preponderance evidence on government property during all
court proceedings with Morelli.
Maui Police Department's Officer Ornellas badge #15391
and other MPD Officers name missing from the report stated
nothing about domestic violence in the report and had failed
to perform a victimless investigation when Morelli called 911
February 21, 2016, falls in line with the intertwined
relationship between Hyman and MPD.
Id. at PageID #516-17 (internal citations omitted).
addition, the FAC alleges that in presiding over family court
TRO and/or custody proceedings, “Judge Tanaka, ”
“Judge Madson Kelly, ” (sic) and “Judge
Lloyd Poleman” (sic) issued rulings “[w]ithout hearing
any evidence, ” thereby violating Plaintiff's
constitutional right to due process. Id. at PageID
seeks damages of “over a Million dollars” and
“relief from judgment” that resulted in
termination of Plaintiff's parental/custodial rights.
Id. at PageID #519-20.
October 16, 2019, Hyman filed a Motion to Dismiss the FAC.
ECF No. 35. On November 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed her
Opposition, and on November 11, 2019, Hyman filed his Reply.
ECF Nos. 40, 41. On November 14, 2019, the court vacated the
hearing. ECF No. 45.
December 11, 2019, the State filed its Motion to Dismiss the
FAC. ECF No. 54. On December 31, 2019, Plaintiff filed her
Opposition, and on January 7, 2020, the State filed its
Reply. ECF Nos. 56, 59. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(c), the
court finds both motions to be suitable for disposition
without a hearing.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes a court to
dismiss claims over which it lacks proper subject matter
jurisdiction. “[U]nlike a rule 12(b)(6) motion, in a
Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the district court is not confined to
the four corners of the complaint-it may consider facts and
need not assume the truthfulness of the complaint.”
Americopters, LLC v. Fed. Aviation Admin., 441 F.3d
726, 732 n.4 (9th Cir. 2006). That is, the parties may
submit, and the court may consider, “extra-pleading
material” and “resolve factual disputes” to
determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists.
Assoc. of Am. Med. Colls. v. United States, 217 F.3d
770, 778 (9th Cir. 2000).
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)).
“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).
Pro Se Pleadings
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court liberally construes
the FAC 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 FAC, 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”)
seek dismissal of the FAC with prejudice, arguing that
Plaintiff failed to establish subject-matter jurisdiction and
failed to state a cognizable § 1983 claim. More
specifically, Defendants contend that this court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the domestic relations
exception, and/or the Younger abstention doctrine.
Defendants further contend that the FAC again fails to allege
that Hyman acted under color of state law, and that claims
against the State and state judges are barred by the Eleventh
Amendment and judicial immunity. For the reasons discussed
below, the court agrees that Plaintiff fails to state a
cognizable federal claim and grants the Motions on that