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Walker v. Gompers Habilitation Center

United States District Court, D. Arizona

February 13, 2018

Michele Walker, Plaintiff,
v.
Gompers Habilitation Center, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          EILEEN S. WILLETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Doc. 2). Plaintiff has consented to the exercise of Magistrate Judge Jurisdiction (Doc. 7). The Court finds that Plaintiff does not have sufficient means to pay the Court's fees and will grant the Application (Doc. 2). Upon screening the Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court finds that Plaintiff has not satisfied the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and fails to state a cause of action. The Court therefore dismisses the Complaint (Doc. 1) without prejudice and grants Plaintiff leave to file a First Amended Complaint consistent with the findings of the Court set forth herein.

         I. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Statutory Screening of In Forma Pauperis Complaint Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         With respect to in forma pauperis proceedings, the Court shall dismiss such action at any time if it determines that:

(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or
(B) the action or appeal -
(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). See also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 fnt. 7 (9th Cir. 2000) (stating that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) “applies to all in forma pauperis complaints”). The Court must dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if it fails to state a claim or if it is frivolous or malicious. Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1127 (“It is also clear that section 1915(e) not only permits but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim.”); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1226-27 (9th Cir. 1984).

         In order to state a claim for relief, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint must include: (1) “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction;” (2) “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief;” and (3) “a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The short and plain statement for relief “need not contain detailed factual allegations; rather, it must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Clemens v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 534 F.3d 1017, 1022 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), and “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are not sufficient, ” Pareto v. F.D.I.C., 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998).

         Further, “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b) (“A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.”). Where a complaint contains the factual elements of a cause, but those elements are scattered throughout the complaint without any meaningful organization, the complaint does not set forth a “short and plain statement of the claim” for purposes of Rule 8. Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 640 (9th Cir. 1988). Thus, a complaint may be dismissed where it lacks a cognizable legal theory, lacks sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory, or contains allegations disclosing some absolute defense or bar to recovery. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988); Weisbuch v. County of L.A., 119 F.3d 778, 783, n. 1 (9th Cir. 1997).

         If the Court determines that a pleading could be cured by the allegation of other facts, a pro se litigant is entitled to an opportunity to amend a complaint before dismissal of the action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). “It is also clear that section 1915(e) not only permits but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim.” Id. at 1127.

         B. Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Pleading in Federal Court

         Unlike state courts, federal courts only have jurisdiction over a limited number of cases, and those cases typically involve either a controversy between citizens of different states (“diversity jurisdiction”) or a question of federal law (“federal question jurisdiction”). See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. The United States Supreme Court has stated that a federal court must not disregard or evade the limits on its subject matter jurisdiction. Owen Equip. & Erections Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978). Thus, a federal court is obligated to inquire into its subject matter jurisdiction in each ...


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