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Ilaw v. Department of Justice

United States District Court, D. Columbia

December 11, 2015

MIGUEL ILAW, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants

          MIGUEL ILAW, Plaintiff, Pro se, San Jose, CA.

         For DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, LUCY H. KOH, Defendants: Robin Michelle Meriweather, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

         For LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C., Defendant: Joseph Peter Harkins, Steven E. Kaplan, LEAD ATTORNEYS, LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C., Washington, DC; Kenneth R. O'Brien, LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C., Sacramento, CA.

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On April 21, 2015, Plaintiff Miguel Ilaw, proceeding pro se, filed suit against the United States Department of Justice, United States District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh, and Littler Mendelson, P.C., bringing several claims against Defendants for their actions related to an employment discrimination case brought by Plaintiff in a Ninth Circuit district court. Plaintiff alleges violations of his Constitutional rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, violations of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § § 1983 and 1985, as well as " Fraud upon the Court" and the " Tort of Outrage." [1]

         On July 10, 2015 the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Department of Justice and Judge Koh, in her official capacity, pursuant to Plaintiff's Application for Voluntary Dismissal of Action. See Minute Order (dated July 10, 2015). Plaintiff brings his remaining claims against Littler Mendelson and Judge Koh, in her individual capacity.

         Presently before the Court are Judge Koh's [70] Motion to Dismiss and Littler Mendelson's [19] Motion to Dismiss. Also before the Court is Plaintiff's [54] Motion for Immunity Analysis and Denial of Entitlement, in which Plaintiff seeks an " immunity legal determination and denial of entitlement against Defendants." Upon consideration of the pleadings,[2] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court (1) GRANTS Judge Koh's [70] Motion to Dismiss; (2) GRANTS Littler Mendelson's [19] Motion to Dismiss; (3) DENIES the relief requested by Plaintiff in his [54] Motion for Immunity Analysis and Denial of Entitlement; (4) DENIES as MOOT Plaintiff's [40] Motion to Retain Venue; and (5) DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiff's [82] Motion for Summary Judgment.

         The Court shall dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Judge Koh because (1) judicial immunity bars Plaintiff's claims; (2) res judicata precludes Plaintiff from relitigating issues that arise from the same set of facts as his earlier suit against Judge Koh; and (3) Plaintiff has failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) against Judge Koh.

         The Court shall dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Littler Mendelson because (1) res judicata precludes Plaintiff from relitigating issues that arise from the same set of facts as his earlier suit against Littler Mendelson and (2) Plaintiff has failed to plead sufficient facts to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) against Littler Mendelson.

         The Court shall enter JUDGMENT in favor of Defendants. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED, with prejudice, in its entirety.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 23, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant action pro se. Plaintiff's 51-page Complaint is far from a model of clarity, containing a plethora of lengthy quotes and summaries of statutes, hearings, and other materials. Nevertheless, the Court has been able to discern the following factual allegations from the Complaint and will accept these allegations as true for the purposes of the pending Motions to Dismiss. See Atherton v. D.C. Office of Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681, 386 U.S.App.D.C. 144 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (" On review of a motion to dismiss, we treat the complaint's factual allegations as true and must grant [plaintiff] the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged." (quotation marks and alteration omitted)).

         A. Plaintiff's Employment Termination in 2010 and Subsequent State Court Action

         Plaintiff's claims originate in the termination of his employment in September 2010 by a hospital operated by the Daughters of Charity Health Systems (" the Hospital" ). See Compl. ¶ 4. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was terminated " after alleging Title VII gender discrimination" in August 2010. Id. ¶ 4. In October 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) issued a Notice of Right to Sue against the Hospital. Id.

         In November 2010, Plaintiff filed a discrimination action against the Hospital in Superior Court in Santa Clara County. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff's counsel agreed with the Hospital's counsel, Defendant Littler Mendelson, to proceed with mediation through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding. See id. ¶ ¶ 9-11. After the parties' counsel negotiated an agreement resolving Plaintiff's claims, Plaintiff terminated his counsel " for betrayal and legal misrepresentation" when " Plaintiff discovered (sic) local court rule violation" in the agreement. Id. ¶ 11. The court dismissed Plaintiff's action without prejudice, after Plaintiff moved for voluntary dismissal of his claims. See id. ¶ 13.

         B. Plaintiff's Federal Court Action in 2011 (" ILaw I" )

         On June 7, 2011, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Title VII action against the Hospital in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Ilaw v. Daughters of Charity Health Sys. (" Ilaw I " ), No. 11-cv-02752 (N.D. Cal.). Compl. ¶ ¶ 16-19.

         Judge Koh served as the presiding judge in that action. Id. ¶ ¶ 25-26. Defendant Littler Mendelson served as counsel to the Hospital. Id. ¶ ¶ 21-22. Judge Koh dismissed Plaintiff's claims with prejudice after previously dismissing his complaint with leave to amend, reviewing the parties' two motions to dismiss, and holding a motions hearing. See id. ¶ ¶ 28-90; see also Ilaw I, 2012 WL 381240, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Feb 6, 2012). Judge Koh concluded that Plaintiff's claims were time-barred and that Plaintiff had not established grounds for equitable-tolling. See Compl. ¶ 83; see also Ilaw I, 2012 WL 381240, at *7. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed Judge Koh's resolution of Ilaw I. See Ilaw v. Daughters of Charity Health Sys., Inc., 585 Fed.Appx. 572, 572-73 (9th Cir. 2014). In its decision, the Court of Appeals opined that " the district court correctly concluded that Ilaw failed to exercise due diligence to preserve his legal rights, and that equitable tolling does not apply to extend the deadline." Id. at 573. On February 23, 2015, the United States Supreme Court denied Plaintiff's petition for a writ of certiorari. Ilaw v. Daughters of Charity Health Sys., Inc., 135 S.Ct. 1412, 191 L.Ed.2d 379 (2015).

         C. Plaintiff's Action in 2013 against Judge Koh and Littler Mendelson (" ILaw II" )

         On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff sued Judge Koh, Littler Mendelson, and a number of other defendants in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Ilaw v. Littler Mendelson PC, et al. (" Ilaw II" ), No. 13-cv-4851-JSW (N.D. Cal.). Specifically, Plaintiff named fifteen defendants, including Littler Mendelson, four of its attorneys, Judge Koh, the Hospital, JAMS, one of its mediators, and numerous others. See Second Amended Complaint, Ilaw II, No. 13-cv-4851-JSW (N.D. Cal. Dec. 30, 2013) (ECF No. 11). Plaintiff's second amended complaint in Ilaw II purported to seek relief for various alleged wrongs regarding the adjudication of Plaintiff's claims in his state court action and in Ilaw I, the federal court action before Judge Koh. See id. ¶ ¶ 1-12.

         As to Judge Koh, Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that (1) Judge Koh dismissed the complaint in Ilaw I despite her awareness that the defendants had violated his rights; (2) Judge Koh reviewed Plaintiff's claims under a " disguise of objectivity; " (3) Judge Koh was a participant in a conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of his right to equal protection; and (4) Judge Koh was derelict in her alleged duty to act to prevent wrongdoing by the retired state judge who served as the mediator in Plaintiff's state court action. See id. at 15, 39, 50, 56-58. Plaintiff's claims against Judge Koh included civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § § 1985, 1986 as well as the " Tort of Outrage." See id. at 53, 56-59.

         As to Littler Mendelson, Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that Littler Mendelson (1) " bought" the mediator in Plaintiff's state court action, (2) " conspired to conceal [Plaintiff]'s medical injury report," and (3) participated in the aforementioned alleged conspiracy to deprive Plaintiff of his right to equal protection. Id. at 35, 56. Plaintiff's claims against Littler Mendelson included (1) civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § § 1985, 1986, (2) attorney misconduct, (3) violations of the California State Bar Act, and (4) the " Tort of Outrage." Id. at 52-53.

         Plaintiff also brought a number of claims against many of the defendants under 42 U.S.C. § § 1983, but it is unclear from Plaintiff's amended complaint whether Plaintiff brought them against Judge Koh and Littler Mendelson. See id. at 1.

         On January 14, 2014, Judge Jeffrey S. White dismissed Plaintiff's case with prejudice. See Order, Ilaw II, No. 13-cv-4851-JSW (N.D. Cal. Jan. 14, 2014) (ECF No. 13). Specifically, Judge White dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims against Judge Koh, finding that judicial immunity barred Plaintiff's claims. Id. at 3. Judge White also dismissed Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § § 1983, 1985, and 1986 on the basis that Plaintiff failed to state a claim under those statutes. Id. at 3-4. After having granted Plaintiff leave to file two amended complaints, Judge White concluded that any further attempts to amend would be futile, and dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. Id. at 5.

         On appeal, the Ninth Circuit summarily affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims. See Ilaw v. Littler Mendelson, PC, et al., No. 14-15131, (9th Cir. Aug. 18, 2014) (ECF No. 14).

         D. Plaintiff's Action in the Court of Federal Claims against Judge Koh and Littler Mendelson (" ILAW III" )

         On February 24, 2015, after filing more than a half-dozen other unsuccessful actions in state and federal courts in California[3]--and after having been listed as a " Vexatious Litigant" in Santa Clara County, California Superior Court[4]--Plaintiff sued Judge Koh and Littler Mendelson in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for the stated purpose of litigating in an " independent jurisdiction away from 'home' circuit." See Complaint, Ilaw v. United States (" ILAW III" ), No. 15-cv-00173-MBH (Fed. Cl. Feb. 24, 2015) (ECF No. 1), at 3. Plaintiff again sought relief against Judge Koh and Littler Mendelson for the alleged wrongs concerning the adjudication of Plaintiff's claims in Ilaw I, the federal court action before Judge Koh. Id. Plaintiff also repeated his claims for alleged violations of his Constitutional rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and violations of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § § 1983 and 1985, as well as the " Tort of Outrage." See id. at 22-27.

         On March 16, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion for " voluntary dismissal and removal to the district court," wherein Plaintiff sought to have the case voluntarily dismissed, so that he could file his complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. See Motion for Voluntary Dismissal and Removal to District Court, Ilaw III, No. 15-cv-00173-MBH (Fed. Cl. Mar. 16, 2015) (ECF No. 8). Plaintiff stated that he sought dismissal because jurisdiction over Section 1983 claims is conferred exclusively on United States District Courts, and that the Court of Federal Claims therefore lacked jurisdiction to hear his claims. Id. at 1-2. On April 21, 2015, while his motion was still pending in the Court of Federal Claims, Plaintiff filed the instant action before this Court.

         On June 6, 2015, the judge presiding over Plaintiff's case in the Court of Federal Claims issued an opinion dismissing Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice after finding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff's claims. See Ilaw III, 121 Fed.Cl. 408, 428 (2015), vacated and remanded, No. 2015-5096, 632 Fed.Appx. 614, 2015 WL 6842995 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 9, 2015).[5] The court, construing Plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal as a transfer request, found that transfer to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia would not be in the " interest of justice," given the " exhaustive history of plaintiff's prior, unsuccessful litigation in State and Federal Courts, and the prior findings by numerous courts of the frivolous and vexatious nature of plaintiff's allegations." Id. As the court explained,

Plaintiff is a frequent litigator of cases brought in both State and Federal courts, where his cases on matters related to the ones now filed in this court have been dismissed repeatedly. Moreover, not only has Mr. Ilaw previously filed substantially similar complaints in a variety of jurisdictions, on April 21, 2015, Mr. Ilaw filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, shortly after he filed the above captioned case in this court. As of the filing of this opinion, plaintiff's case in the District Court for the District of Columbia is still pending, and absolutely no purpose would be served to transfer the above captioned case to the same court.

Id. Upon appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the district court's decision, holding that Plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal divested the district court of jurisdiction, and therefore the district court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice, instead of without prejudice. Ilaw v. United States, No. 2015-5096, 632 Fed.Appx. 614, 2015 WL 6842995, at *5 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 9, 2015). In dicta, the appeals court noted that Plaintiff's " almost certain litigation abuse thus far" may have warranted ...


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