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Bracken v. Florida League of Cities

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division

April 25, 2019

COREY L. BRACKEN, Plaintiff,
v.
FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES, CITY OF JASPER FLORIDA, JASPER POLICE DEPARTMENT, AXON CORPORATION, LOVES TRAVEL CENTERS, Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARK D.CLARKE, UNITED STSTES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Corey L. Bracken seeks to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") in this action. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs Complaint (#1) is dismissed without prejudice and with leave to refile a First Amended Complaint within thirty days of this ruling. Plaintiffs IFP application (#2) is held in abeyance and will be considered when the amended complaint is filed. Plaintiffs request for Pro Bono Counsel is denied. Plaintiffs request that this case be sealed is denied.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Generally, all parties instituting any civil action in United States District Court must pay a statutory filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). However, the federal IFP statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), provides indigent litigants an opportunity for meaningful access to the federal courts despite their inability to pay the costs and fees associated with that access. To authorize a litigant to proceed IFP, a court must make two determinations. First, a court must determine whether the litigant is unable to pay the costs of commencing the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Second, it must assess whether the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In regard to the second of these determinations, district courts have the power under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen complaints even before the service of the complaint on the defendants and must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim. Courts apply the same standard under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). To survive a motion to dismiss under the federal pleading standards, the complaint must include a short and plain statement of the claim and "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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. The plausibility standard ... asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. The Court is not required to accept legal conclusions, unsupported by alleged facts, as true. Id.

         Pro se pleadings are held to less stringent standards than pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521 (1972). That is, the court should construe pleadings by pro se plaintiffs liberally and afford the plaintiffs the benefits of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). Additionally, a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and the opportunity to amend, unless the complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Id.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         Even assuming the allegations in the Complaint state a plausible claim for relief, the Complaint does not adequately state the basis for this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendants. If Plaintiff files an amended complaint, he must cure this deficiency to avoid dismissal, as discussed below.

         Where, as here, there is no federal statute governing personal jurisdiction, the law of the state in which the Court sits applies. CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc., 653 F.3d 1066, 1073 (9th Cir.2011); Panavision Ml, L.P. v. Toeppen, 141 F.3d 1316, 1320 (9th Cir.1998). Oregon's long arm statute, Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure ("ORCP") 4, extends personal jurisdiction to the extent permitted by federal due process. Gray & Co. v. Firstenberg Mach. Co., 913 F.2d 758, 760 (9th Cir. 1990); Tech Heads, Inc. v. Desktop Serv. Ctr., Inc., 105 F.Supp.2d 1142, 1144 (D. Or. 2000).

         Federal due process requires that a nonresident defendant have "certain minimum contacts" with the forum state of such a nature that the exercise of personal jurisdiction "does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington, Office of Unemployment Compensation and Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). This constitutional test may be satisfied by showing that (1) the defendant has "substantial" or "continuous and systematic" contacts with the forum state-i.e. "general jurisdiction," or (2) there is a strong relationship between the defendant's forum contacts and the cause of action-i.e. "specific jurisdiction." Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 839 (9th Cir.1986). See also Ziegler v. Indian River County, 64 F.3d 470, 473 (9th Cir.1995).

         In order for the court to exercise specific jurisdiction, the lawsuit "must arise out of or relate to the defendant's contacts with the forum." Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., 137 S.Ct. 1773, 1780, 198 L.Ed.2d 395 (2017) (citing Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472-473 (1985); Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 (1984). In other words, there must be "an affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, principally, [an] activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State and is therefore subject to the State's regulation." Goodyear, 564 U.S., at 919, 131 S.Ct. 2846 (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted). For this reason, "specific jurisdiction is confined to adjudication of issues deriving from, or connected with, the very controversy that establishes jurisdiction." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         In this case, Plaintiff identifies the defendants as Florida League of Cities, the City of Jasper in Florida, the City of Jasper Police Department, Axon Corporation, and Loves Travel Center. Plaintiff does not indicate where the corporate defendants are incorporated or where their principal places of business are located, but it seems that all defendants are "non-residents" of Oregon and therefore the Court lacks general jurisdiction over the defendants. Thus, Plaintiff must demonstrate that the Court has specific personal jurisdiction by showing that there is a strong relationship between his claims and the defendants' contacts with the State of Oregon.

         Plaintiff claims that he was wrongfully arrested, detained, assaulted, and wrongfully tased on October 19, 2018. He does not allege that any of the facts in the Complaint took place in Oregon or explain why this case should be brought in Oregon. Plaintiff does not state where the allegedly wrongful arrest took place, but based on statements in the complaint about the actions of law enforcement officials employed in the state of Florida it seems that the events complained of took place in Florida. Therefore, Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts for the Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendants. If he is ...


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