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Solomon v. Town of Taylor

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 22, 2016

Gary Craig Solomon, Plaintiff,
v.
Town of Taylor, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

Honorable G. Murray Snow United States District Judge

Pending before the Court are Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6) (Doc. 14), Plaintiff’s motion to amend (Doc. 34), and Defendants’ motion to strike (Doc. 40). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants’ motions and denies Plaintiff’s motion.

BACKGROUND [1]

Plaintiff alleges that at some point prior to 2013, Defendant Town of Taylor (“Town”) contracted with Hatch Development Company, LLC and other parties to develop an industrial park in the Town. (Doc. 1 at 2, Ex. A.) Hatch did not possess the proper licensing and insurance to do the work, which included “hook[ing] up sewer lines . . . .” (Doc. 1 at 2.) Hatch began, yet may not have finished, the contract work, leaving “trenches that were open with no back fill to prevent harm to the public.” (Id.) The Town then hired Plaintiff to finish the project, but did not inform him that Hatch’s previous work was done without a proper license, insurance, or ADQ approval. (Id.)

In July 2008, individuals who owned property adjacent to the industrial park sued the Town, Hatch, Plaintiff, and other parties claiming that the parties negligently constructed the industrial park sewer system causing their property to flood. (See id.; Doc. 14 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that the Town hired Plaintiff “as a scapegoat to cover the Hatch Development negligence.” (Doc. 1 at 2.) And when Plaintiff sought information to defend himself in the lawsuit, Eric Duphie, the Town’s manager, refused to disclose any information about the “Palmer Trust” or any other paperwork that would “make the Taylor Family responsible . . . .” (Id.) Accordingly, Plaintiff argues that the Town “clearly and visibility (sic) violated my constitutional rights not allowing me to get information to defend myself.” (Id.) Plaintiff allegedly did not know that Hatch performed the original construction work lacking the proper documentation until some point in 2013, long after the 2008 lawsuit settled. (Id.)

Plaintiff also alleges that the state court judge who presided over the 2008 lawsuit “showed extreme prejudice against me and my family because of the relationship between” the state court judge and another judge on the same court. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff also complains of being deprived of the chance to “step one foot inside the courtroom.” (Id. at 2.)

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

On a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are assumed to be true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cousins v. Lockyer, 568 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2009). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) can be based on “the lack of a cognizable legal theory” or “the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To avoid dismissal, a complaint need contain only “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The principle that a court accepts as true all of the allegations in a complaint does not apply to legal conclusions or conclusory factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 566 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 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. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. To show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief, the complaint must permit the court to infer more than a mere possibility of misconduct. Id.

II. Analysis

Plaintiff argues that Defendants deprived him of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, [2] 1985, 1988, and 18 U.S.C. § 242.

A. Section 1983

To state a claim for relief in an action brought under § 1983, Plaintiff must allege “(1) a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute, (2) proximately caused (3) by conduct of a ‘person’ (4) acting under color of state law.” Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). “Section 1983 ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights, ’ but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.’” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144, n. 3 (1979)). Accordingly, “a section 1983 plaintiff must allege an independent substantive basis for relief.” Crumpton, 947 F.2d at 1420.

Plaintiff fails to aver any independent substantive basis for relief triggered by an articulated violation of some federally protected right.[3]Id. Rather, in count one, Plaintiff conclusively asserts that Defendants violated his civil rights when they allegedly refused to disclose information about the “Palmer Trust” and other subjects Plaintiff contends he could have used to defend himself in the 2008 civil lawsuit. And in count two, Plaintiff alleges that the state court judge who presided over the 2008 lawsuit ...


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