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Ali v. Scotia Group Management LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 2, 2018

Andre H. Ali, Plaintiff,
v.
Scotia Group Management LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          HONORABLE JENNIFER G. ZIPPS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On March 27, 2018, the Court granted Ali's Application to Proceed without Prepaying Fees or Costs. (Doc. 6.) The Court also screened Ali's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and dismissed the complaint with leave to amend for failure to demonstrate federal jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. (Id.) The Court granted Ali thirty days from the March 27, 2018 filing date of its Order to file an amended complaint.

         Ali's Amended Complaint was due on April 26, 2018. On April 6, 2018, Ali filed a form for a complaint that he titled “Income Statement.” (Doc. 7.) Ali did not set forth any statement of a claim or request for relief. He attached forms pertaining to Social Security Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance for someone named Andre De Shawn High. On May 9, 2018, Ali filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 8). In light of Ali's pro se status and the short delay between the April 26, 2018 due date for the Amended Complaint and the May 9, 2018 filing, the Court will accept Ali's late filing. However, in the future, if Ali is unable to comply with deadlines set by the Court or the rules, he must seek leave of Court to extend the time to comply as set forth at Rule 6(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Cf. Ghazali v. Moran, 46 F.3d 52, 54 (9th Cir. 1995) (pro se litigants are bound by the rules of procedure”); King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987) (“Pro se litigants must follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants.”), overruled on other grounds by Lacey v. Maricopa County, 693 F.3d 896 (9th Cir. 2012).

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court will screen the Amended Complaint. Under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must dismiss the Amended Complaint if the Court determines that the Amended Complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from an individual who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss Ali's Amended Complaint with leave to amend.

         Screening Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         A. General Requirements

         The Court previously advised Ali that a complaint is to contain “[a] ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]'” (Doc. 6 at (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Where the pleader is pro se, the “[p]leadings should be liberally construed in the interests of justice.” Johnson v. Reagan, 524 F.2d 1123, 1124 (9th Cir. 1975). Nonetheless, a complaint must set forth a set of facts that serves to put defendants on notice as to the nature and basis of the claim(s). Furthermore, all allegations of a claim are to be set forth in numbered paragraphs that should be limited to a single set of circumstances. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b). “[E]ach claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence . . . must be stated in a separate count . . . .” Id. Failure to set forth claims in such a manner places the onus “on the court to decipher which, if any, facts support which claims, as well as to determine whether . . .” a plaintiff is entitled to the relief sought. Haynes v. Anderson & Strudwick, Inc., 508 F.Supp. 1303, 1307 n.1 (D.C. Va. 1981). “Enforcement of this rule is discretionary with the Court, but such enforcement is appropriate where it is necessary to facilitate a clear presentation of the claims.” Ramage v. United States, 2014 WL 4702288 at *1 (D. Ariz. 2014) (citing Benoit v. Ocwen Financial Corp., Inc., 960 F.Supp. 287, 289 (S.D. Fla. 1997), affirmed 162 F.3d 1177 (compliance with rule mandatory where allegations were so confounding and conclusory, claims were commingled, and unfeasible to decipher nature of claims)).

         If the court determines that dismissal is appropriate, the plaintiff must be given at least one chance to amend a complaint when a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim. Cook, Perkiss and Liehe, Inc. v. Northern Cal. Collection Serv. 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990) (“district court should grant leave to amend [the complaint] even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.”). Moreover, when dismissing with leave to amend, the court is to provide reasons for the dismissal so a plaintiff can make an intelligent decision whether to file an amended complaint. See Bonanno v. Thomas, 309 F.2d 320, 322 (9th Cir. 1962).

         B. Requirement that Action State a Claim on Which Relief Can be Granted

         In order to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff must allege enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). While a complaint need not plead “detailed factual allegations, ” the factual allegations it does include “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. Indeed, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) requires a showing that a plaintiff is entitled to relief “rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Id. at 555, n.3. The complaint “‘must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right to action.'” Id. at 555 (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. 2004)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (interpreting Rule 8(a) and explaining that there must be specific, non-conclusory factual allegations sufficient to support a finding by the court that the claims are more than merely possible, they are plausible). Although a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) has not been filed in this case, the Court screens the Amended Complaint in light of Twombly and must determine whether Ali has “nudge[d] [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Court also considers that the Supreme Court has cited Twombly for the traditional proposition that “[s]pecific facts are not necessary [for a pleading that satisfies Rule 8(a)(2)].” Erickson v. Pardue, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Instead, a statement must “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Id. at 93 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S, at 555).

         In discussing Twombly, the Ninth Circuit has stated that “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory “factual content, ” and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         In general, a complaint is construed favorably to the pleader. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), abrogated on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982). This Court must take as true all allegations of material fact and construe them in the light most favorable to Ali. See Cervantes v. United States, 330 F.3d 1186, 1187 (9th Cir. 2003). Nonetheless, the Court does not accept as true unreasonable inferences or conclusory legal allegations cast in the form of factual allegations. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). Furthermore, the Court is not to serve as an advocate of a pro se litigant, Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987), superseded by statute as stated in Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2012), in attempting to decipher a complaint.

         C. Failure to comply with Rule 8(a), F.R.C.P.

         Ali originally filed this action against Scotia Group Management LLC (Scotia). Scotia was included in the caption, but not named in the body of the Amended Complaint. In the body of the Amended Complaint, Ali identifies the following Defendants: “Tucson Police/Tucson City Court”, State of Arizona Department of Economic Security, ECMC debt collection, U.S. Department of the Treasury, City of Tucson Risk Management, U.S. Department of Education, attorney Matthew D. Koglmeier, and ...


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