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Kaylor v. County of Santa Cruz

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division

December 13, 2019

ROY KAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ; WILLIAN JAMES RAHAL; MICHAEL MAXWELL; ANDREW PIERCE, Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          ANN AIKEN United States District Judge.

         Pro se Plaintiff Roy Kaylor seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this action. ECF No. 3. Plaintiff has also filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"), ECF No. 2. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for TRO is DENIED and this case is DISMISSED with leave to amend. Plaintiff shall have thirty (30) days in which to file an amended complaint. The Court shall defer ruling on the IFP petition pending submission of an amended complaint.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         I. Temporary Restraining Order

         In deciding whether to grant a motion for a temporary restraining order, courts look to substantially the same factors that apply to a court's decision on whether to issue a preliminary injunction. See Stuhlbarg Int'l Sales Co., Inc. v. John D. Brush & Co., Inc., 240 F.3d 832, 839 n.7 (9th Cir. 2001). A preliminary injunction is an "extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that: (1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) the plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in favor of the plaintiff; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Id. at 20.

         II. IFP Petition

         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 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 to 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 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 All. 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, 520-21 (1972). That is, the court should construe pleadings by pro se plaintiffs liberally and afford the plaintiffs the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). 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

         Plaintiff alleges that he owns substantial real property in Santa Cruz County, California. This property has been the subject of litigation since at least 2010, apparently stemming from the disputed classification of the property under California law and Plaintiffs use of the property. Compl. 5. The nature and details of the dispute are not clear from the Complaint, but Plaintiff alleges that it has "spawned" forty-two civil cases over the last nine years and resulted in over $320, 000 in "legal fees and debt." Id. Plaintiffs land is scheduled to be sold the County on December 17, 2019, apparently as a result this litigation. Id. Plaintiff alleges that the planned sale is in violation of his constitutional due process rights and will result in the loss of endangered wildlife habitat through logging on the property. Id.; TRO Mot. Plaintiff asks this court to enjoin the scheduled sale of Plaintiffs property; "[p]erform a full Federal investigation regarding due process and obvious corruption," in the Santa Cruz county court; appoint an attorney for Plaintiff; and award $111, 111, 111.11 in damages. Compl. 6.

         Plaintiff asserts that if the property is sold, it will be logged and developed as housing. TRO Mot. In addition to the loss of trees, Plaintiff claims that this will result in the loss of wildlife habitat and potential harm to Native American sacred sites and natural springs. Plaintiff also alleges that over 100 of his vehicles "consisting primarily of antique cars, trucks, and prototypes," including the prototype for the Toyota Prius, have already been removed and destroyed. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that over 50 of his bicycles have been removed and that he has been forced "to give away 4 airplanes to prevent them from getting destroyed without due process." TRO Mot.

         The first and most significant problem with the Complaint is that it fails to adequately state a basis for this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendants. 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). Oregon's long arm statute, Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure ("ORCP") 4, extends personal jurisdiction to the ...


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