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Holmes v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

March 21, 2019





         Before the Court are multiple pending Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendants United States Veterans Initiative (“U.S.VETS”), Carla A. Ford, Brenda Threatt, Danielle Hanne, Larry Williams, Angela Hicks, Darwin Thomas, Kellie Hill Bouscher, Matamulisesula Filoialii, and Jessica Rohac (collectively “Defendants”) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b). See Record Documents 20, 23, and 41. Plaintiff Pia Holmes (“Plaintiff”) opposes the motions. See Record Documents 25, 31, and 50. Defendants seek dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are hereby GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings this pro se suit against U.S.VETS, a nonprofit corporation located in Los Angeles, California, and several of its employees for allegedly committing various acts against her that, according to Plaintiff, constitute violations of Title VIII and other laws, all of which resulted in her unlawful eviction from U.S.VETS' housing facilities located in Long Beach, California. See Record Document 13 at 1-2; Record Document 20-2 at 1. Plaintiff also alleges that the above-referenced individuals, in their capacities as employees of U.S.VETS, took further illegal actions against her such as their alleged acts of intimidation, false accusations, and “obstruction of justice.” Record Document 20- 1 at 2. Additionally, although Plaintiff filed the instant suit in Louisiana, all of the above-referenced acts which she alleges Defendants made against her, if accepted as true, took place only in California. See, e.g., Record Document 48 at 2-3.

         Defendants contend that none of Plaintiff's claims are actionable and warrant dismissal for several reasons, including, inter alia, lack of personal jurisdiction, lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Record Document 23 at 1-2. Plaintiff responds that none of Defendants' arguments asserted against her claims are legally correct and argues that their Motions to Dismiss should be denied. See Record Document 44 at 1-2, 15.

         On April 23, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, after having previously filed two complaints that were deemed deficient. See Record Documents 13, 9, and 1. In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff requests an order from the Court finding Defendants liable for their alleged conduct and awarding her damages, in addition to any other relief the Court deems appropriate, because of Defendants' actions. See Record Document 25 at 20.


         A. Pleading and 12(b)(2) Motion to Dismiss Standards

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the requirements for pleadings that state a claim for relief, requiring that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) is now a “plausibility” standard found in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and its progeny. 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Under this standard, “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555-56, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. If a pleading only contains “labels and conclusions” and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” the pleading does not meet the standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted).

         A motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) allows a party to move to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. “Where a defendant challenges personal jurisdiction, the party seeking to invoke the power of the court bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists.” Luv N' care, Ltd. v. Insta-Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006) (citing Wyatt v. Laplan, 686 F.2d 276, 280 (5th Cir. 1982)). When a court rules on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction without holding an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction. See Rd. Sprinkler Fitters Local Union No. 669, U.A., AFL-CIO v. CCR Fire Prot., LLC, No. 16-0448, 2018 WL 3076743, at *4 (M.D. La. June 21, 2018).

         “Moreover, on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint must be taken as true, and conflicts between the facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor for purposes of determining whether a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction exists.” Bullion v. Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 217 (5th Cir. 1990) (quoting D.J. Investments, Inc. v. Metzeler Motorcycle Tire Agent Gregg, Inc., 754 F.2d 542, 546 (5th Cir. 1985)). Courts may consider “affidavits, interrogatories, depositions, oral testimony, or any combination of the recognized methods of discovery.” Revell v. Lidov, 317 F.3d 467, 469 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Stuart v. Spademan, 772 F.2d 1185, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985)).

         Although Defendants' Motions to Dismiss also seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims on grounds other than lack of personal jurisdiction, including lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, improper venue, insufficient service of process, and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, see Record Document 23 at 1-2, the Court finds that the personal jurisdiction issue is dispositive of the instant case. Therefore, the Court declines to address Defendants' other grounds for dismissal.[1]

         B. Personal Jurisdiction Under the ...

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