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Mittal v. County of Clark

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 30, 2017

RAJA MITTAL, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF CLARK, et al., Defendants.


          Kent J. Dawson, United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Robert Draskovich's Substantive Joinder (#51) to Defendants Michael O. Nyarko and William L. Downey's Motion to Dismiss (#49). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (#80) to which Defendant replied (#88).

         I. Background

         This case arises out of Plaintiff's claims that Defendants conspired to mislead the State's juvenile court and deprive him of custody of his minor son X.X. Plaintiff has named his former attorney, Robert Draskovich, as a defendant. Plaintiff hired Draskovich in July of 2013 to represent him in the juvenile court trial regarding X.X. However, Plaintiff alleges that the day before trial Defendant coerced him to enter into a plea settlement against his will. According to Plaintiff, Defendant told him “that if he doesn't go in for the settlement, he will never see his son ever again.” Because of the overwhelming stress of the situation Plaintiff claims that he agreed to enter into the plea settlement, though his desire had always been to seek justice at trial. Plaintiff entered a no contest plea to educational neglect of his son in exchange for a dismissal of other allegations of child abuse and neglect. In fact, no further criminal or civil charges were brought against Plaintiff. Plaintiff admits in his first amended complaint that he did keep X.X. out of school for eleven days in an attempt to protect the boy from the alleged abuse of X.X.'s mother and grandfather.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant mislead him into a fraudulent settlement and thereby breached his fiduciary duty and committed legal malpractice. Plaintiff further alleges that all Defendants violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, conspired to deprive Plaintiff of his rights, and failed to prevent the deprivation of those rights. Defendant Draskovich filed the present motion to dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint.

         II. Legal Standard

         A court may dismiss a plaintiff's complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A properly pled complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” F.R.C.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands more than “labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, “[to]survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted).

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, a district court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions or mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 678. Second, a district court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 678. Further, where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has “alleged-but it has not show[n]-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, when the claims in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, the complaint must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Moreover, “[a]ll allegations of material fact in the complaint are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” In re Stac Elecs. Sec. Litig., 89 F.3d 1399, 1403 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).

         III. Analysis

         In his First through Fourth Causes of Action, Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants: (1) deprived him of his constitutional rights, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) conspired to prevent justice, 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2); (3) conspired to deprive him of his rights and privileges, 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3); and, (4) failed to prevent the alleged wrongs that were conspired to be done against him, 42 U.S.C. § 1985. Additionally, Plaintiff names Draskovich in the Seventh through Ninth Cause of Action for negligence per se, breach of fiduciary duty, and legal malpractice.

         A. Deprivation of Rights and Privileges Claims

         Defendant Draskovich argues that Plaintiff's first four causes of action fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff's First Cause of Action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to bring a § 1983 claim, a Plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a constitutional or legal right was violated; and (2) that the violation was “committed by a person acting under the color of State law.” Long v. County of Los Angeles, 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006). Draskovich argues that Plaintiff has failed to allege facts to support a finding that Draskovich acted under color of state law. Plaintiff contends that Draskovich worked as a co-conspirator with the government and is therefore a state actor under the joint action test. Dennis v. Sparks, 449 U.S. 24, 27-28 (1980).

         In order for a person to act under the color of state law, it is not necessary for that person to be an officer of the state. Id. at 27. It is sufficient that a person be a willful participant in joint action with the state. Id. However, “[a] private party is liable under this theory, only if its particular actions are ‘inextricably intertwined' with those of the government. Brunette v. Humane society of Ventura County, 294 F.3d 1205, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Mathis v. Pac. Gas & Elec. Co., 75 F.3d 498, 503 (9th Cir. 1996)). Joint action requires a “substantial degree of cooperative action” between the state and the defendant. Collins v. Womancare, 878 F.2d 1145, 1154 (9th Cir. 1989).

         Plaintiff has alleged that Draskovich conspired with the government to deprive Plaintiff of his constitutional rights. This conclusory allegation does not show a “substantial degree of cooperative action.” Id. Without further factual allegations, Plaintiff's claim is merely a recitation of the elements for a § 1983 claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ...

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