United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge
issue is the Application to Proceed in District Court Without
Prepaying Fees or Costs filed by pro se Plaintiff
Tanya Winters (Doc. 2). Having determined that Plaintiff does
not have the means to pay the Court's fees in this case,
the Court grants the Application. However, as set forth
below, upon screening Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1)
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court finds that
the Complaint fails to state a claim or plausible grounds for
the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. The Court
therefore dismisses the Complaint without leave to amend.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)
cases in which a party is permitted to proceed in forma
pauperis-that is, the party lacks the means to pay court
fees-Congress provided that a district court “shall
dismiss the case at any time if the court determines”
that the “allegation of poverty is untrue” or
that the “action or appeal” is “frivolous
or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Section 1915(e)
applies to all in forma pauperis proceedings.
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000).
“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.
Rule 8, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
complaint must include “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must
contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Even where a complaint has the factual
elements of a cause of action present but scattered
throughout the complaint and not organized into a
“short and plain statement of the claim, ” it may
be dismissed for failure to satisfy Rule 8(a). Sparling
v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 640 (9th Cir.
1988). A dismissal for failure to state a claim can be based
on either (1) the lack of a cognizable legal theory or (2)
insufficient facts to support a cognizable legal claim.
Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d
696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
Subject Matter Jurisdiction in Federal Court
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 case and to dismiss a case when subject matter
jurisdiction is lacking. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1116 (9th Cir. 2004); Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a) provides that “[a] pleading that states a claim
for relief must contain: (1) a short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court's jurisdiction.” In other
words, to proceed in federal court, a plaintiff must allege
enough in the complaint for the court to conclude it has
subject matter jurisdiction. See Charles Alan Wright
& Arthur R. Miller, 5 Fed. Practice &
Procedure § 1206 (3d ed. 2014).
Failure to State a Federal Claim
Complaint, Plaintiff first attempts to raise a federal claim
against two private entities, Defendants F-N-F Construction
and Zurich American Insurance Company, under the Fair Labor
Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.
(“FLSA”), for “failing to pay workers
compensation when [Plaintiff] is known to be disabled
throughout many appeals.” (Doc. 1 at 3-4.) Workers'
compensation is a creature of state law, not federal statutes
like the FLSA, and a claim of failure to pay workers'
compensation benefits thus arises only under state law.
Plaintiff does not raise a state law claim here, but even if
she did, this Court would lack subject matter jurisdiction
over such a claim, as detailed more fully below. As a result,
the Court must dismiss this claim without leave to amend.
See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1130.
second attempt to raise a federal claim is under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against the same two private entity Defendants
for creating an unsafe construction zone. (Doc. 1 at 20-22.)
To state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must first allege
state action by Defendants. Determining whether an entity is
subject to suit under § 1983 is the “same question
posed in cases arising under the Fourteenth Amendment: is the
alleged infringement of federal rights fairly attributable to
the [government]?” Sutton v. Providence St. Joseph
Med. Ctr., 192 F.3d 826, 835 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing
Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 457 U.S. 830, 838 (1982)).
The Complaint contains no non-conclusory allegation
supporting an inference that the Defendant construction and
insurance companies were state actors, which is fatal to