Gifford v. Kampa, No. 2:17-CV-2421-TLN-DMC

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Writing for the CourtDENNIS M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
PartiesROGER GIFFORD, Plaintiff, v. PETER KAMPA, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 2:17-CV-2421-TLN-DMC
Decision Date25 March 2021

ROGER GIFFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER KAMPA, et al., Defendants.

No. 2:17-CV-2421-TLN-DMC

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

March 25, 2021


FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil action. Pending before the court are the following motions:

ECF No. 24 Defendant Winston's motion to dismiss.

ECF No. 25 Defendant Winston's motion to strike.

ECF No. 26 Hornbrook Community Services District (HCSD) Defendants' amended motion to dismiss.

ECF No. 39 Defendant Winston's motion to revoke Plaintiff's in forma pauperis status, declare Plaintiff a vexatious litigant, require Plaintiff to post security.

The HCSD Defendants' motion is brought on behalf of: The HCSD, Peter Kampa, Robert Puckett, Sr., Melissa Tulledo, Julie Bowles, Clint Dingman, and Ernest Goff. See ECF No. 26, pg. 1. Plaintiff filed various responses on July 12, 2019. See ECF Nos. 42-47.

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I. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

This action proceeds on plaintiff's first amended complaint. See ECF No. 17. Plaintiff alleges his claims arise under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as various federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. See id. at 1. Plaintiff also alleges various state law claims. See id.

The following are named as defendants:

Peter Kampa

Robert Puckett, Sr.

Patricia Slote1

Melissa Tulledo

Robert Winston

Julie Bowles

Clint Dingman

Ernest Goff

Kevin Dixon2

The Hornbrook Community Services District (HCSD)

The Hornbrook Community Bible Church (HCBC)3

Steven Crittenden4

Duke Martin5

James Soares6

See id.

/ / /

/ / /

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Plaintiff collectively refers to Defendants Puckett, Tulledo, and Slote, who are alleged to be former members of the board of directors of Defendant HCSD, as the "Board Defendants." Id. at 3. Plaintiff collectively refers to Defendants Bowles, Dingman, Winston, Goff, Kampa, and Dixon, who are alleged to be employees and/or contractors of Defendant HCSD, as the "employee and contractor Defendants." ECF No. 17, pg. 3. According to Plaintiff: "The 'Board Defendants' took wrongful actions in their official capacities as public officials and officers, and/or under color of law of their positions, and also failed to properly supervise, train, and/or control, the HCSD employee and contractor Defendants. . . ." Id.

A. Allegations as to Each Defendant

Plaintiff does not outline any specific allegations as against defendant Tulledo, who is alleged to be among the "Board Defendants." Defaults have been entered as to Defendants Dixon, Slote, Crittenden, Martin, Soares, and the Hornbrook Community Bible Church. See ECF Nos. 29-34; but see ECF No. 62 (return of process as to defendant Soares, filed on February 3, 2020). Plaintiff has filed motions for default judgments. See ECF Nos. 65 and 66. Plaintiff's allegations as to these defendants are not before the Court and are not summarized here.

Defendant Robert Puckett, Sr.

Plaintiff alleges Defendant Puckett was the president of the HCSD board and initiated the "common plan" which was ratified by Defendants Tulledo, Winston, Kampa, Dingman, Goff, and Dixon. ECF No. 17, pg. 6. According to Plaintiff, this "common plan" was adopted to allow for operation of the HCSD in an "unsafe manner which failed to comply with Federal, State, and Local laws; and to create, institute, and enforce policies, customs, and practices, all in violation of Federal, State, and local laws. . . ." Id.

Plaintiff claims Defendant Puckett's conduct resulted in undercharging and waiving fees and charges for certain customers, failing to impose and collect the "standby fee" as to each parcel, and failing to comply with provisions of the California Water Code. Id. Plaintiff also claims Defendant Puckett conspired with Defendant Winston to "approve Winston's intervention in several HCSD administrative matters, and/or Siskiyou County

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Superior Court matters being prosecuted by Plaintiff and other persons, as well as matters in the Third District Court of Appeals, without any BOD [board of directors] approval prior to Winston's appearing therein." Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff alleges these appearances violated provisions of the California Business and Professions Code. See id. at 7.

Finally, Plaintiff outlines a number of allegations of further wrongdoing on the part of Defendant Puckett, including: an unpermitted and improperly altered septic system; derelict vehicles leaking toxic oils and fluids onto the ground and public streets, rivers, and creeks; decrepit sheds, lean-tos, outbuildings, trailers, fifth wheels, "and the like in a manner harboring rodents and vermin"; improperly stored pesticides, rodenticides, and fungicides in trailers in which Defendant Puckett permits people to live; maintaining a fire hazard in the form of an improperly modified residential electrical system; and maintaining large amounts of debris. Id. at 7-8.

Defendant Hornbrook Community Services District

Plaintiff assigns liability to the HCSD based on the conduct of its officers and directors. See id. at 11-12. Plaintiff contends Defendant HCSD "had inadequate facilities that violate the federal Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. See id. According to Plaintiff, defendant HCSD is also liable for improperly waiving or reducing water fees for friends. See id. Plaintiff also alleges violations of California's Brown Act. See id. at 13-15.

Defendant Julie Bowles

Plaintiff claims Defendant Bowles was an officer and employee of Defendant HCSD, serving as its treasurer. See id. at 15. According to Plaintiff: "No agreement exists to indemnify Bowles pursuant to Govt. Code § 995 (or otherwise) in her contract with the HCSD." Id. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Bowles collaborated with other defendants in the "improper conduct of illegally non- and/or improperly agendized, and/or non-public meetings by improperly meeting with them individually and serially, as a group (or portions thereof) via personal contact. . . . for the purpose of discussing official HCSD-related 'public business,' including how HCSD funds would be (improperly) diverted to Winston, Bowles, and Dingman; which HCSD customers should get (wrongfully) reduced and/or waived fees and charges and

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how to alter the billing to affect and conceal those reductions and waivers; and, how to submit time sheets and 'pay stubs' for Dingman that were in excess of his contracted rate of pay and hours, and/or which contained false claims for hours and/or jobs worked (and how to prevent all those documents, and the associated timesheets, from being revealed to Plaintiff, and the public)." Id. Plaintiff further claims Defendant Bowles improperly diverted public funds to friends and acquaintances. See id.

Plaintiff alleges:

These accts by Bowles in the operation of the HCSD was part of the conspiracy with the Board Defendants to cause disruption and upset of the operation of the HCSD, and of Plaintiff's position and duties as a Director and Secretary, and was undertaken in part as retaliation for Plaintiff's complaints to the HCSD Board and government agencies about violation of law concerning the HCSD's operations, and Bowles' lack of competence.

ECF No. 17, pgs. 15-16.

Finally, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Bowles submitted $2,250.00 worth of false claims for payment for services for HCSD she did not perform. See id. at 16.

Defendant Clint Dingman

Plaintiff alleges Defendant Dingman was the "Systems Trainee" and "Shift Operator" for defendant HCSD's water production and treatment facilities. See id. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Dingman lacked the certifications for this position required under state law. See id. Plaintiff claims the Board Defendants, Kampa, Goff, and Dixon "conspired, agreed, and acted to wrongfully provide compensation, benefits, indemnification, and/or other pecuniary and/or non-pecuniary benefits to Dingman which were not contractually specified, and/or which were granted outside of an agendized, public meeting of the Board of the HCSD. . . ." Id. In particular, Plaintiff complains that other defendants allowed Defendant Dingman "to reside, with his dog, at the HCSD water plant, while also utilizing that facility for his personal purposes (including as a dog run - permitting the animal to defecate all over the property without Dingman cleaning it up), to store belongings, etc - all without any payment by Dingman for those uses." Id. Plaintiff further contends Defendant Dingman and other defendants conspired to arrange for Defendant Dingman to receive payments for services he

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did not actually perform. See id. at 16-17.

Finally, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Dingman conspired with other defendants to carry out the "common plan." Id. at 17. Under the heading "V. Defendant Robert Puckett, Sr.," Plaintiff adds that the "Board Defendants, Kampa, Dingman, Goff, Dixon, and Winston" acted to allow defendant Dingman to "work on, and operate (including by the addition of chemicals to the water supply) the HCSD water production, treatment, and distribution facilities without any certification, or license to do so," in violation of provisions of the California Health and Safety Code. Id. at 7. Plaintiff adds:

. . .These same Defendants agreed, conspired, and acted to allow Dingman to occupy and utilize for his personal purposes, the water production, treatment facilities, and real property of the HCSD free of charge, and without compensation for the costs incurred to the HCSD and the public by his doing so."

Id.

Plaintiff further claims the Board Defendants conspired with Defendant Winston to "wrongfully and corruptly have the HCSD divert public funds to Winston for former Board member Michelle Hanson's private legal fees in Siskiyou County Superior Court cases. . . ." Id.

Defendant Ernest Goff

According to Plaintiff, Defendants Goff and Dixon "represented themselves as independent contractors, as the Chief Systems Operator(s) for the HCSD,...

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