Unpublished Disposition, 907 F.2d 155 (9th Cir. 1990)Annotate this Case
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted May 24, 1990.* Decided July 12, 1990.
Before WILLIAM A. NORRIS, WIGGINS and KOZINSKI, Circuit Judges.
Whitcombe appeals the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against the Weyerhaeuser Corporation, Washington state courts, and various employees of the Washington courts. We affirm.
* In 1981, Whitcombe filed suit for breach of contract against the Weyerhaeuser Corporation in Washington state court. In that action Whitcombe first waived a jury trial. Although he subsequently and repeatedly moved to revoke that waiver, his motions were denied and he received a bench trial. Judgment was ultimately entered for Weyerhaeuser. Whitcombe appealed through the Washington state courts on the ground that the trial court erred in denying him a jury trial in violation of Washington State Civil Court Rule 38(b). Whitcombe lost on appeal.
Whitcombe then filed suit in federal court pursuant to section 1983 asserting that the Washington court's refusal to grant him a jury trial denied him due process. His federal suit alleges that Weyerhaeuser, the Washington courts and judges, and the Washington Supreme Court clerk, Reginald Shriver, conspired to deny him his right to a jury trial. Whitcombe sought damages and an order granting him a new trial before a jury. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) (6).
We review de novo the district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim. Woodrum v. Woodward County, 866 F.2d 1121, 1124 (9th Cir. 1989).
In order to state a claim under section 1983 against private persons, Whitcombe must allege facts which show that those persons are engaged in a conspiracy with public officials. United Steelworkers of America v. Phelps Dodge, 865 F.2d 1539, 1540 (9th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 110 S. Ct. 51 (1989). In his complaint, Whitcombe does no more than simply state that Weyerhaeuser and Washington State court officials conspired to deprive him of his right to a jury trial. Vague and conclusory allegations of participation in civil rights violations are insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). Whitcombe's failure to allege any facts showing an agreement to deprive Whitcombe of his right to due process requires we affirm the dismissal of his complaint against Weyerhaeuser.
The eleventh amendment requires the dismissal of the Washington state courts. The eleventh amendment bars suits naming state agencies as defendants even if the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief. V.O. Motors, Inc. v. California State Board of Equalization, 691 F.2d 871, 872 (9th Cir. 1982). That bar applies to section 1983 actions. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 344 (1979). Washington has not waived its eleventh amendment immunity. McConnell v. Critchlow, 661 F.2d 116, 117 (9th Cir. 1981). We therefore affirm the dismissal of the Washington State courts.
C. Washington State Court Judges and Shriver
We affirm the dismissal of the Washington State court judges and Shriver. Judges are not liable "for civil actions for their judicial acts, even when such acts are alleged to have been done maliciously or corruptly." Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356 (1978). The denial of a motion for a jury trial was a judicial act for which the judges were entitled to absolute immunity. Likewise, Shriver is entitled to derived judicial immunity because he is performing an integral part of the judicial process. See Lonneker Farms v. Klobucher, 804 F.2d 1096, 1097 (9th Cir. 1986).
The judgment is AFFIRMED.