Olson v. Hornbrook Cmty. Servs. Dist., 2:19-CV-2127-KJM-DMC

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Docket Number2:19-CV-2127-KJM-DMC
Decision Date30 August 2022



No. 2:19-CV-2127-KJM-DMC

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 30, 2022



Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil action. Pending before the Court is Defendant Kampa's motion to dismiss, ECF No. 10, which all other defendants join, ECF No. 35. The matter has been submitted on the record without oral argument.

In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all allegations of material fact in the complaint as true. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007). The Court must also construe the alleged facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see also Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hosp. Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816 (9th Cir. 1994) (per curiam). All ambiguities or doubts must also be resolved in the plaintiffs favor. See Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). However, legally conclusory statements, not supported by actual factual allegations, need not be accepted. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009).


In addition, pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief' in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, in order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555-56. The complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “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.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility for entitlement to relief.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court generally may not consider materials outside the complaint and pleadings. See Cooper v. Pickett, 137 F.3d 616, 622 (9th Cir. 1998); Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 453 (9th Cir. 1994). The Court may, however, consider: (1) documents whose contents are alleged in or attached to the complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, see Branch, 14 F.3d at 454; (2) documents whose authenticity is not in question, and upon which the complaint necessarily relies, but which are not attached to the complaint, see Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001); and (3) documents and materials of which the court may take judicial notice, see Barron v. Reich, 13 F.3d 1370, 1377 (9th Cir. 1994).


Finally, leave to amend must be granted “[u]nless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defects.” Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).


This action proceeds on Plaintiff's original complaint. See ECF No. 1. Plaintiff names the following as defendants: (1) Hornbrook Community Services District (HCSD); (2) Clint Dingman; (3) Robert Puckett, Sr., an HCSD Director and President of the Board of Directors; (4) Michele Hanson, an HCSD Director and Secretary of the Board of Directors; (5) Melissa Tulledo, an HCSD Director; (6) Patricia Brown, an HCSD Director; (7) Peter Kampa, the General Manager of the HCSD; (8) Julie Bowles, Bookkeeper of the HCSD; and (9) Kevin Dixon, acting “under color of authority of [these] offices” and “purportedly” a consultant, employee, and/or agent of the HCSD and Board of Directors, Defendant Dingman's “purported” supervisor, and an independent contractor serving the role of HCSD Chief Systems Operator. See generally ECF No. 1. Plaintiff states that Defendants Hanson, Puckett, Brown, and Tulledo comprise the “Board Defendants.” ECF No. 1, pg. 6.

A. General Allegations

Plaintiff asserts federal question jurisdiction directly under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. See id. at 1. Plaintiff also asserts federal question jurisdiction under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988, and 12131-12134. See id. Plaintiff also asks the Court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over related state law claims. See id.

In the most general and vague of terms, Plaintiff alleges that the HCSD and Board Defendants took part in an “ongoing wrongful agreement and plan to manage the HCSD as a spoils system” and to retaliate against Plaintiff for her “political and legal activity in opposition to them.” ECF No. 1, pgs. 2-3. As to the claim that Defendants operated the HCSD as a “spoils system,” Plaintiff explains that “[t]here are no budgeted costs/expenditures for upgrades,


maintenance, or expansion,” and that “[t]he Board Defendants, Bowles, and ‘HCSD' routinely, and wrongfully/illegally, give some customers discounts, tax and fee waivers, reduced water charges, penalty waivers, rule exemptions, etc.” ECF No. 1, pg. 3, n.4. Plaintiff claims that these Defendants “acted to systematically and wrongfully stifle, deny, suppress, and thwart” Plaintiff's right to vote and petition, as well as her entitlements to due process and equal protection. ECF No. 1, pg. 3. Plaintiff contends that these Defendants agreed and acted to deny her rights by “wrongfully ignoring certain statutory and Constitutional mandates, and the HCSD Bylaws' voter control provisions concerning: public business of the HCSD . . .; open and public meetings of the Board of Directors . . .; [and] compliance with the Brown Act's requirement that Board . . . meeting [agenda materials] be furnished prior to meeting upon request.” Id.

Plaintiff further alleges, also in vague and general terms, that “documents concerning HCSD operations/functions [were provided] to favored customers via billing inserts, but not to Plaintiff; and, a general failure while operating the HCSD and acting as government officials to follow health and other water district-related laws resulting in health and safety nuisances and other torts.” Id.

Plaintiff contends that the HCSD and Board Defendants deliberately interfered with Plaintiff's rights to speak at public HCSD meetings by “refusing and failing to provide notice of those meetings, and documents relating thereto to Plaintiff as requested, while knowing Plaintiff is disabled and unlikely to learn of meetings until after the fact.” Id. at n.5. Plaintiff states that she was also prevented from petitioning the HCSD concerning HCSD matters and from voting, even though the HCSD Bylaws “mandate voter control over the waiving, imposing, or changing of rates, assessments, fees, penalties, charges, and certain policies of the HCSD.” Id. at 3.

Plaintiff alleges the following against each Defendant, including John Does, individually, jointly, and severally:

10. . . . [E]ach of the Defendants... were the agents partners, joint venturers, aiders, abettors, employers and employees, officers, directors, board members, ostensible agents, principals, co-conspirators and/or partners of one another as to any specific act, plan, agreement, coordinated action, conspiracy, or joint venture . . . and . . . each intended
the reasonably foreseeable outcome thereof, while acting in reckless disregard for any reasonably foreseeable harms that could have befallen Plaintiff. . . . All Defendants acted pursuant to policies, customs, and practices of the HCSD adopted by the Board Defendants, its administrators or other directors, operators, employees, contractors, and/or agents.”
11. Each of the Defendants caused and is responsible for the herein-described wrongful, unlawful, and/or tortious conduct resulting [in] injuries by: personally agreeing to and participating in the conduct or acting jointly, aiding, abetting, or conspiring with others who did so; by authorizing, ratifying, encouraging, agreeing with, acquiescing in, or setting in motion, policies, plans, or actions, that led to the wrongful conduct, or, actions [that] although lawful themselves, were in furtherance of other, unlawful, wrongful, and/or tortious conduct while knowing the ultimate goals of the agreements to do so were wrongful; . . . failing to take action to prevent the unlawful, wrongful, and/or tortious conduct described in the complaint; and . . . failing and refusing with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's rights to conform their conduct to that dictated by the laws of the United States [and] the State of California, and/or the HCSD Bylaws.
12. In doing the acts alleged herein, the Board Defendants, Bowles, Kampa, Dixon, Dingman, and, John Does 1 through 100, were acting in their official capacity as elected officials and/or public employees/officers, or as a direct agent[1] of an elected official or District officer, and/or ‘jointly engaged' with a public officer or official

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