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Alexanderson v. Monroe

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 12, 2013

ALVIN ALEXANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES GORDON MONROE, CAROLYN DALE MONROE, and C-LAZY-K RANCH, INC., Defendants.

Alvin Alexanderson, Ridgefield, WA, Pro Se.

Michael W. Peterkin, Bend, OR, Attorney for Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Alvin Alexanderson brings this action to quiet title to an easement over Defendants' land. Defendants move to dismiss because of claim and issue preclusion. Defendants argue that Plaintiff is barred from bringing this action because the matter was litigated to completion in a state court action. I agree that Plaintiff is barred by claim preclusion from bringing this action. I grant Defendants' motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Alexanderson is the owner of two adjacent properties in Jefferson County, Oregon. First Am. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendants James and Carolyn Monroe own property along the eastern border of Alexanderson's properties. Id. at ¶ 2. Defendant C-Lazy-K Ranch, Inc. owns property to the southeast of Alexanderson's properties. Id. at ¶ 3.

The parties in this case were previously involved in a state court action in Jefferson County, Oregon. Burgess Decl. Ex. 1 at 1.[1] In the state action, Alexanderson pled several counterclaims against the Monroes and C-Lazy-K Ranch. Id. at Ex. 1 at 6-21. The counterclaims state various legal theories to establish access to a road over the Monroes' and C-Lazy-K Ranch's properties. Id . In particular, the theory of access in Alexanderson's fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh counterclaims of the state court action are by easements. Id. at 9-17. A four-day trial was held in August 2007. Id. at Ex. 2 at 1. The primary issue was whether Alexanderson had any "public or private rights to use a disputed road across [the Monroes' and C-Lazy-K Ranch's] properties[.]" Id. at Ex. 2 at 2. The trial court made rulings, and Alexanderson appealed the decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals.[2] Id . Upon remand, the trial court concluded that Alexanderson did not have a right to access the portion of the road over the Monroes' and C-Lazy-K Ranch's properties. Id. at Ex. 2 at 4.

Alexanderson filed this case on May 14, 2013, eight days before the judgment had entered in the state court action. Burgess Decl. ¶ 4; Ex. 2. In the present case, Alexanderson asks this court to grant an easement over the same properties and at the same location as in the state court action. First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13-14.

STANDARDS

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the claims. Navarro v. Block , 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). "All allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Am. Family Ass'n, Inc. v. City & Cnty. of S.F. , 277 F.3d 1114, 1120 (9th Cir. 2002). However, the court need not accept conclusory allegations as truthful. Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc. , 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[W]e are not required to accept as true conclusory allegations which are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint, and we do not necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations.") (quotation and citations omitted).

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) will be granted if plaintiff alleges the "grounds" of his "entitlement to relief" with nothing "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)[.]" Id . (citations and footnote omitted).

To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face[, ]" meaning "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotation omitted). Additionally, "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679. The complaint must contain "well-pleaded facts" which "permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff Alexanderson states one claim against Defendants-quiet title to an easement appurtenant that originated by an act of Congress. First Am. Compl. 2-3. Defendants move to dismiss, arguing that the prior state court action prohibits Alexanderson from bringing this case because of claim and issue preclusion. ...


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