Narayan v. Cnty. of Sacramento

Docket Number2:19-cv-0466-TLN-CKD PS
Decision Date24 January 2022
PartiesPRAKASH NARAYAN, Plaintiff, v. COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of California

ORDER & FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS (ECF Nos 138, 141, 143, 159, 163)


Presently before the court are a dispositive motion for summary judgment by the last remaining defendants in this action, and multiple surrounding motions by pro se plaintiff Prakash Narayan.[1] (ECF Nos. 138, 141, 143, 159, 163.) Plaintiff's motions consist of (1) a motion for leave to amend the complaint (ECF Nos. 138, 141)[2]; (2) a motion to vacate the undersigned's October 15, 2021 order modifying the prior Scheduling Order (ECF No. 143); and (3) an amended ex parte application to enter default judgment in plaintiff's favor (ECF No. 163). All of the motions, except the ex parte application, have been fully briefed; and the court heard remote arguments on plaintiff's motion to amend on December 8, 2021. (See ECF No. 154.) The court deemed hearings unnecessary for the other motions, which were submitted on the papers pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). Having considered the parties' arguments, the law, and the relevant facts the court DENIES plaintiff's motion to vacate the court's October 15th schedule modification order (ECF No. 143) and recommends GRANTING defendants' dispositive motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 159) and DENYING plaintiff's motion to amend and application for default judgment (ECF Nos. 138, 141, 163).


Plaintiff filed this action in March 2019 against three sets of defendants: Wells Fargo Bank; the City of Sacramento; and the County of Sacramento, the Sacramento County Assessor, and Sacramento County Tax Collector Ben Lamera (collectively the County defendants). (ECF No. 1.) Overall, plaintiff alleges unfair debt collection practices arising from the improper addition of delinquent public utilities charges to his County property tax bills over several years.

The court granted plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, but in screening the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) found that the complaint failed to establish the court's subject matter jurisdiction because it failed to state a federal claim. (ECF Nos. 2, 4.) The court granted plaintiff leave to amend, and in May 2019, plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) against the same defendants. (ECF No. 12.) In a June 27, 2019 re-screening order, the court found the FAC adequately pleaded the elements of a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) claim-“if just barely”-and ordered service of the FAC on defendants. (ECF No. 13.) The County defendants filed an answer to the FAC on July 18, 2019 (ECF No. 17), and the FAC remains the currently operative complaint.

The FAC asserts five causes of action under the FDCPA and two ostensible causes of action for “t[a]mpering with public records” and “public corruption.” (ECF No. 12 at 1-9.) For the FDCPA claims, plaintiff alleges that he received “deceptive” County property tax bills that included assessments for unpaid City utility debts without him ever receiving a record of what the debts were for. (Id. at 1-2.) Wells Fargo-plaintiff's mortgage lender-paid these “phony” assessments of “several thousands” of dollars for several years, out of plaintiff's mortgage escrow account. (Id. at 2-3.) Plaintiff claims that the County defendants violated the FDCPA as well as California Health and Safety Code § 5473 by (1) adding the City debts to the County property tax rolls without validating the debts and without approval from the County Board of Supervisors, and (2) failing to produce records substantiating these debts upon request. (Id. at 2-3, 8.) The tampering claim does not include allegations against any County defendants; and the corruption claim against the County is that by not verifying the debts being added to plaintiff's property taxes, the County aided and abetted the City's corrupt conduct. (Id. at 8-10.)

In early 2020, the court first dismissed Wells Fargo and then the City from the action, in part because neither qualified as a “debt collector” within the meaning of the FDCPA. (ECF Nos. 50 (Wells Fargo F&Rs) at 4-5; 61 (order adopting); 67 at 3-4 (City F&Rs); 59 (order adopting).) The County defendants did not move to dismiss, having previously filed an answer.

In July 2020, the court issued a Pretrial Scheduling Order to govern the remainder of the litigation between plaintiff and the County defendants. (ECF No. 85.) As relevant, the Scheduling Order set a July 30, 2021 discovery deadline and a September 10, 2021 deadline for all non-discovery law and motion to be completed. (Id. at 2-3.) The Scheduling Order also provided that [n]o further joinder of parties or amendments to pleadings is permitted except with leave of court, good cause having been shown.” (Id. at 2.)

Since the filing of the FAC, plaintiff has twice tried to further amend the complaint (not counting the present motion to amend). In June 2020, plaintiff filed a purported Second Amended Complaint, which the court ordered stricken because it was filed without defendants' consent and without leave of court. (ECF Nos. 77, 79.) In late July 2020, plaintiff moved for leave to amend the complaint to add the “sewer department” as a new defendant for also violating California Health and Safety Code § 5473 by adding sewer charges to plaintiff's property taxes without the County Board of Supervisors' approval. (ECF No. 89.) The court denied leave to amend both because plaintiff failed to attach a proposed amended complaint and because of the potential prejudice to defendants in having to defend against arguably unrelated claims after the action had been pending for more than a year. (ECF No. 104 at 3.)

Since then, the docket has been filled primarily with plaintiff's various attempts to disqualify the undersigned from continuing to preside over this case. Because none of plaintiff's motions alleged facts supporting plaintiff's assertions of bias, the undersigned consistently denied the motions without referral to another judge. See Toth v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 862 F.2d 1381, 1388 (9th Cir. 1988) (only after determining the legal sufficiency of § 144 affidavit is a judge obligated to reassign decision on merits to another judge; where “bias or prejudice alleged arose from conduct during the judicial proceeding, ” the motion and affidavit were legally insufficient). Plaintiff's variously styled motions objected to the court purportedly misapplying the filing deadlines for responsive pleadings and other papers-and for ruling against plaintiff on his successive motions without any further oral argument since the initial hearing on Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss. (See, e.g., ECF Nos. 95, 105, 108, 113, 117, 119-124, 130-31, 135.)

On September 9, 2021, the County defendants moved to modify the Scheduling Order to allow their filing of a dispositive summary judgment motion beyond the September 10th deadline set for dispositive motions. (ECF No. 125.) On October 15, 2021, the court granted defendants' motion. (ECF No. 139, hereinafter “Schedule Modification Order.”) Based on the briefing presented by both sides, the court found good cause to both (a) re-open discovery to permit plaintiff to conduct any properly noticed depositions of County officials no later than November 19, 2021, and (b) permit the parties to file any summary judgment motion so that it could be heard on or before January 19, 2022. (Id. at 8.) The court specified that, under the Local Rules, that would require such motion to be filed and noticed no later than December 22, 2021. (Id.)

On December 17, 2021, the County defendants timely filed their motion for summary judgment which is now before the court. (ECF No. 159.) By that time, plaintiff had filed an intervening motion to further amend the complaint and to vacate the Schedule Modification Order. (ECF Nos. 138, 141, 143.) Accordingly, the court addresses plaintiffs' motions-along with his later-filed ex parte application for default judgment-before turning to the merits of defendants' summary judgment motion.


On October 12, 2021, a few days before the court issued its Schedule Modification Order, plaintiff filed the instant motion to amend. (ECF Nos. 141 (notice of motion), 138 (memo & proposed amended complaint).) At the court's prompting, plaintiff noticed the motion to amend for hearing on December 8, 2021. (ECF Nos. 140, 142.) The County defendants filed their opposition on November 24, 2021, and plaintiff filed a reply and an uninvited additional amended reply. (ECF Nos. 150, 151, 153.) Before the hearing on the motion, plaintiff also filed a “Protest Under First Amendment Rights, ” again complaining of the lack of oral argument opportunities and the undersigned's purported bias against him. (ECF No. 152.)

The court held a remote hearing on the motion to amend, as scheduled, on December 8, 2021, with counsel appearing for the County defendants and plaintiff appearing on his own behalf. (ECF No. 154.) The court invited plaintiff to give any arguments he wished to provide on his motion, and plaintiff argued (as he did in his reply papers) that the defendants' opposition was untimely. Plaintiff stated that he did not wish to say anything further, due to his belief that the undersigned was illegally remaining as the judge in this case despite his recusal motions. County counsel represented that defendants' opposition was timely served and filed 14 days before the hearing, in compliance with the Local Rules, and was also emailed to plaintiff the same day.

At the hearing, the court informed the parties that it was taking the motion under submission,...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT