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Castaneda v. United States

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 19, 2018

Rudy Castaneda, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
United States of America, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Honorable Eileen S. Willett, United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court is pro se Plaintiffs' Rudy and Julia Castaneda's Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Doc. 2) and Complaint (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs have agreed to Magistrate Judge Jurisdiction (Docs. 8, 9).

         I. DISCUSSION

         A. Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Doc. 2)

         The district court may permit indigent litigants to proceed in forma pauperis upon completion of a proper affidavit of indigence. See 28 U.S.C.§ 1915(a). In their Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Doc. 2), Plaintiffs have declared under penalty of perjury that they are unable to pay the filing fee and other costs associated with this case. Plaintiffs present financial information to support their application. Given Plaintiffs' income and absence of significant assets, Plaintiffs have met their burden of proof. The Court finds the Plaintiffs to be indigent, and their Application (Doc. 2) will be granted.

         B. Screening In Forma Pauperis Complaint (Doc. 1)

         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). 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).

         But as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has instructed, courts must “continue to construe pro se filings liberally.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). A “complaint [filed by a pro se litigant] ‘must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam)).

         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, 203 F.3d at 1127-29. “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.

         C. Plaintiffs' ...


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