United States District Court, D. Oregon
STEPHEN S. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
VIAL FORTHERINGHAM, LLP, Defendant.
Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.
Stephen Edwards (“Plaintiff”) filed pro
se claims against Defendant Vial Fortheringham, LLP
(“Vial” or “Defendant”). The Court
dismissed Plaintiff's first complaint sua sponte
for failing to state a claim. Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint. Plaintiff asserts claims for legal malpractice,
fraud, and violations of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt
Organizations (“RICO”) Act, 18 U.S.C. §
1962. Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's
claims, arguing that Plaintiff again fails to state a claim.
For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is
complaint fails to state a claim when there is no cognizable
legal theory or the factual allegations are insufficient to
support a claim for relief. Shroyer v. New Cingular
Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir.
2010). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint's
factual allegations, the court must accept as true all
well-pleaded material facts alleged in the complaint and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Wilson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 668 F.3d 1136, 1140
(9th Cir. 2012); Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ.
Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). But to be
entitled to a presumption of truth, the complaint must do
more than simply allege legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79
(2009). The plaintiff “may not simply recite the
elements of a cause of action, but must [provide] sufficient
allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to
enable the opposing party to defend itself
effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202,
1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The underlying factual allegations must
“plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.”
Baca, 652 F.3d at 1216 (emphasis added). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual
content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663 (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).
se plaintiffs receive special dispensation. A court must
liberally construe the filings of a pro se plaintiff
and afford the plaintiff the benefit of any reasonable doubt.
Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).
“A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or
of Napa, 2015 WL 3919826, at *6 (N.D. Cal. June 25,
2015) (“Generally, private citizens do not have
standing to initiate a federal criminal prosecution.”);
Glassey v. Amano Corp., 2006 WL 889519, at *3 (N.D.
Cal. Mar. 31, 2006), aff'd, 285 Fed.Appx. 426 (9th Cir.
2008) (“Private parties generally lack standing to
enforce federal criminal statutes. Title 18 of the United
States Code covers ‘Crimes and Criminal Procedure;'
violations of provisions of specific sections of title 18 are
typically prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's
offices.”). It appears, however, that these statutes
may be referenced as predicate crimes for Plaintiff's
RICO claim, which is discussed below. her complaint unless it
is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint
could not be cured by amendment.” Karim-Panahi v.
Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th
Cir. 1988) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
But even a pro se plaintiff must offer more than
“‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
amended complaint is not particularly clear. It appears that
Plaintiff had a dispute with a homeowner's association,
The Lakewood Homeowner's Association (“Lakewood
HOA”), of which Plaintiff is currently is or previously
was a member. Plaintiff alleges that Lakewood HOA engaged in
fraudulent conduct with respect to Plaintiff for more than
two years and that Defendant was the law firm that
represented Lakewood HOA. Plaintiff further alleges that
there was some legal proceeding in the state of Arizona.
alleges that an attorney practicing in the Arizona office of
Vial, Mr. Quinten T. Cupps, “lied” to the courts
in Arizona and asserts that Mr. Cupps should be disbarred.
Plaintiff also alleges that his former attorney was
“chased away” after being threatened by another
attorney at Vial, and that the Arizona State Bar has not
properly dealt with the various attorneys who work at Vial.
Plaintiff further alleges that Vial worked for the Lakewood
HOA Board of Directors (“Board”) and enabled the
Board to “maintain a stance of dishonesty to
homeowners” and to violate homeowners' rights by
improperly passing rules and regulations. Plaintiff alleges
that Vial's representation of Lakewood HOA was
overzealous and not in the HOA's best interest. Plaintiff
alleges that Vial corrupted the Board and Lakewood HOA's
management company. Plaintiff further alleges that Vial can
perpetuate its “conspiratorial scheme” on a
national basis because it has offices in several states.
alleges that Lakewood HOA charges unreasonable fees, that
using a management company has resulted in increased fees,
that the management company performs “sham
services” at highly inflated fees, that Lakewood HOA
refers disputes to the management company, that the
management company then assesses more fees and fines on the
homeowner, and that everything is turned over to Vial for
legal enforcement, in a vicious circle. Plaintiff further
alleges that there is a lien on his property, placed through
“nefarious” circumstances, although he does not
allege who placed the lien. It appears that it was Lakewood
alleges that “Arizona, ” the Arizona state bar,
FedEx, and the City of Phoenix are all co-conspirators with
Vial. Plaintiff also alleges that his complaint
“relates directly to the Mormon Way of Life and their
unorthodox, bizarre and morally questionable values, customs
state a claim for legal malpractice, a Plaintiff must allege
the following basic elements: duty, breach of duty,
causation, and damages. See Glaze v. Larsen, 207
Ariz. 26, 29, 83 P.3d 26, 29 (2004) (citing Phillips v.
Clancy, 152 Ariz. 415, 418 (Ct. App. 1986)); see
also Cecala v. Newman, 532 F.Supp.2d 1118, 134 (D. Ariz.
2007). Therefore, one alleging legal malpractice must allege
“the existence of an attorney-client relationship which
imposes a duty on the attorney to exercise that degree of
skill, care, and knowledge commonly exercised by members of
the profession.” Philips, 152 Ariz. at 418.
Court previously dismissed Plaintiff's legal malpractice
claim because he failed to allege facts demonstrating an
attorney-client relationship between Vial and himself. His
allegations show an attorney-client relationship between Vial
and Lakewood HOA or the Board, but not between Vial and