Grimes v. A1-Auto Care

Decision Date30 March 2022
Docket Number21cv02093-LL-BLM
CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
PartiesJEROME L. GRIMES, an individual, Plaintiff, v. A1-AUTO CARE, a California limited liability company; S & R TOWING, INC., a California corporation; CARLSBAD AUTO SERVICE, INC., a California limited liability company; WAYNE MILACK, Defendant.

JEROME L. GRIMES, an individual, Plaintiff,

A1-AUTO CARE, a California limited liability company; S & R TOWING, INC., a California corporation; CARLSBAD AUTO SERVICE, INC., a California limited liability company; WAYNE MILACK, Defendant.

No. 21cv02093-LL-BLM

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 30, 2022




Presently before the Court is the Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) of Plaintiff Jerome L. Grimes, an individual (“Plaintiff”). ECF No. 2 (“Mot.”). Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, [1] alleges that Defendants A1-Auto Care, Inc., a California corporation


(“A1-Auto”); S & R Towing, Inc., a California corporation (“S & R”); Carlsbad Auto Service, Inc., a California corporation (“CAS”); and Wayne Milack (collectively, “Defendants”)[2] attempted to commit manslaughter by covertly replacing his vehicle transmission while it was in a tow yard. See generally ECF No. 1 (“Complaint” or “Compl.”). Having considered carefully Plaintiff's Complaint, IFP Motion, and the applicable law, the Court (1) DENYING Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP as moot and (2) DISMISSES the Complaint without prejudice.


A.Statement of Facts

Plaintiff, a Florida citizen and resident, alleges that he has a B.A. and M.B.A. Compl. at ¶ 3A. He also pleads that he is a Ph.D. graduate student in psychology at NCU online. Id.

On September 20, 2021, the Carlsbad Police Department arrested Plaintiff. Compl. at 18. Due to his arrest, Plaintiff's 2018 SUV, Vehicle Identification Number 3N1CPSCU9JL524677 (the “Vehicle) was stored pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 22651(h)[3] using S&R Towing. Id. at 3, 18. The exhibit to his complaint shows


that he was transported to the Vista Detention Facility, where he was booked under an Orange County, Florida warrant. Id. Plaintiff was required to pay $363.00 in towage storage fees to S & R in order to retrieve his Vehicle. Id. at 5, ¶ 7A.

Plaintiff alleges that while his Vehicle was in S & R's tow yard, the neighboring auto repair shops, A1-Auto and CAS, used “[c]overt [r]emote [c]ontrol … [attempted] Vehicular Manslaughter, i.e., [an] Automobile Accident Rouse Masquerade ILLEGALLY INDUCED By An UNAUTHORIZED REMOTE CONTROL TRANSMISSION ‘ILLEGALLY' INSTALLED ONTO THE PLAINTIFF'S 2018-AUTOMOBILE WITH COVERT TRANSPORTATION VEHICLE TERROR INTENT.” Compl. at 4, ¶ 6A.

On September 21, 2021, Plaintiff retrieved his Vehicle and alleges “the Wheel Hub Bearing ‘immediately' went-out LULLING the ‘Detection' of the ‘[i]llegally and maliciously [i]nstalled' REMOTE CONTROL TRANSMISSION.” Compl. at 4, ¶ 7A. Between September 2021 and October 17, 2021, he pleads that he had to have his front right wheel hub repaired for $200.00. Id. at 5. Further, from October 8, 2021 to October 17, 2021, Plaintiff's Vehicle became inoperable. Id. at 4-5, ¶ 7A.

On November 16, 2021, Plaintiff detected the allegedly illegally installed remote control transmission through “near swoop & swap diesel truck simultaneous transmission remote control premeditated malfunction rouse on Highway 78/(freeway).” Compl. at 5, ¶ 7A. Plaintiff alleges that to date, the Vehicle remains inoperable. Id. at 5, ¶ 8A.

B.Procedural History

On December 13, 2021, Plaintiff filed his complaint alleging three claims for relief for (1) declaratory relief regarding negligence and general liability insurance coverage; (2) an “individual claim” against Defendants for failing to provide duty to a visitor; and (3) an individual civil rights claim. Compl. at 13-15, ¶¶ 17A-21A. That same day, Plaintiff also filed the instant IFP motion. ECF No. 2.



The Court is obligated to screen all cases filed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). See, e.g., Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2002) (per curiam) (holding 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) screening applies to non-prisoners proceeding IFP); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)). Under this statute, the Court must sua sponte dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, that (1) is frivolous, malicious, (2) fails to state a claim, or (3) seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1126-27; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Courts “may consider facts contained in documents attached to the complaint” to determine whether the complaint states a claim for relief. Nat'l Assoc. for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis v. Cal. Bd. of Psychol., 228 F.3d 1043, 1049 (9th Cir. 2000). The screening mechanism serves “to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989), abrogated on other grounds in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 (2007).

As set forth below, the Court addresses the screening of Plaintiff's complaint first and finds the complaint fails to state a claim for relief. Because the Court dismisses Plaintiff's complaint without prejudice, the Court also DENIES Plaintiff's IFP motion without prejudice as moot.

A.Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

“The language of § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)” governing dismissal of frivolous IFP cases, “parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998). Yet, “frivolousness” within the meaning of the IFP standard and failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 12(b)(6)”) remain distinct concepts. See Deschamps v. City of Sausalito, No. 22-cv-00928-LB, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31149, at *5, 2022 WL 521457, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 16, 2022), report and recommendation adopted in part, rejected in part on other grounds,


2022 WL 528105 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 22, 2022). When a court considers whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is not only limited to the face of the complaint, see Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network, Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002), but it must also accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). When a court evaluates whether a pro se complaint qualifies as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), on the other hand, it may “pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations” and need not “accept without question the truth of the plaintiff's factual allegations.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325).

“[A] court may dismiss a claim as factually frivolous only if the facts alleged are clearly baseless, a category encompassing allegations that are fanciful, fantastic, and delusional.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992) (internal quotations and citations omitted) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325, 327-28). The Supreme Court has expressly “decline[d] the invitation to reduce the ‘clearly baseless' inquiry to a monolithic standard, ” instead leaving it to the discretion of district courts, suspecting they would “‘all too familiar' with [such] factually frivolous claims.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328). However, it has set forth the following insight into when courts should dismiss on the basis of frivolousness:

[A] finding of factual frivolousness is appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them. An in forma pauperis complaint may not be dismissed, however, simply because the court finds the plaintiff's allegations unlikely. Some improbable allegations might properly be disposed of on summary judgment, but to dismiss them as frivolous without any factual development is to disregard the age-old insight that many allegations might be “strange, but true; for truth is always strange, Stranger than fiction.”

Denton, 504 U.S. at 33; see also Hernandez v. Denton, 966 F.2d 533, 533 (9th Cir. 1992).

Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 8”) requires that for a pleading to state a claim for relief, it must contain the following elements:

(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support;
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
(3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).

As set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint warrants screening under Rule 8(1) and (2). The Court addresses whether the complaint states a claim under Rule 8(a)(2) first.

1.Plaintiff has Failed to State a Claim for Relief

Plaintiff's claims, although difficult to decipher, appear to allege a conspiracy to fraudulently install a transmission in his Vehicle while it was in a towing yard for the purpose of attempting to kill him. Compl. at 4, ¶ 6A. To the extent Plaintiff's complaint alleges criminal actions, such as “grand theft” and “attempted vehicular manslaughter, ” see id., such criminal claims may not be pursued in a civil lawsuit. But see United States v. Duran, 41 F.3d 540, 544 (9th Cir. 1994) (“If the prosecutor has probable cause to believe a defendant committed a crime, the decision of whether to prosecute and the charges to be filed rests with the prosecutor.”). To the extent Plaintiff intends to allege other claims for relief, as set forth below,...

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