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Petramala v. State

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 23, 2019

Michael Petramala, Plaintiff,
State of Arizona, et al., Defendants.



         On January 2, 2019, Michael Petramala (“Plaintiff”) filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) and an application to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2). In a January 30, 2019 Order, the Court granted Plaintiff's application to proceed and dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 7.) Although the initial dismissal order concluded the dismissal should be with prejudice, Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration. (Doc. 9.) In a February 15, 2019 Order, the Court granted the motion for reconsideration in part and gave Plaintiff 30 days to file a first amended complaint (“FAC”). (Doc. 15.)

         Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's FAC, which was filed on February 19, 2019. (Doc. 16.) As explained below, the Court will dismiss the FAC with leave to amend. Plaintiff will have 30 days to file a second amended complaint to cure the deficiencies identified in this order.

         A. Statutory Screening of Complaints Filed By Pro Se Litigants

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), a complaint is subject to dismissal if it contains claims that are “frivolous or malicious, ” that “fail[] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or that “seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. Additionally, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. Although Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.

         “[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679. Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other “more likely explanations” for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 681.

         The Ninth Circuit has instructed that courts must “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)). Conclusory and vague allegations, however, will not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). A liberal interpretation may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled. Id.

         B. The FAC

         In his FAC, Plaintiff names five defendants: (1) Judge Sam Myers, in his official capacity as an Arizona state judge; (2) the Maricopa County Superior Court; (3) Governor Doug Ducey, both in his personal capacity and in his official capacity as governor; (4) the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; and (5) the City of Scottsdale. (Doc. 16 at 1.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Judge Myers was “assigned to Petramala's [National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”)] removal state case and has blocked Petramala from obtaining NICS removal under A.R.S. § 13-925 due to $398.50 in filing fee and NICS expert witness costs.” (Id. at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that state felons are allowed to seek removal from the NICS list without paying any fees and that it constitutes “invidious disability discrimination” to require mentally-ill individuals, such as Plaintiff, to pay such fees. (Id.)

         Plaintiff next alleges that the Maricopa County Superior Court isn't immune from liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and repeats his claim that it is unconstitutional to require mentally-ill individuals to pay fees associated with the firearm-restoration process when felons aren't required to pay such fees. (Id.)

         Plaintiff next alleges that Doug Ducey is “responsible for receiving federal money” that is intended to benefit mentally-ill individuals seeking to restore their firearm rights and “also is responsible for the state budget implementation which subsume[s] NICS Improvement Act monies given to the state of Arizona.” (Id. at 1-2.)

         Plaintiff next alleges that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors consists of five persons, each of whom is being sued in their official and personal capacities, “who are responsible for funding indigent expert witness appointments for mental defective NICS removals in Maricopa County pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-925 and the NICS Improvement Act.” (Id. at 2.)

         Plaintiff next alleges that the City of Scottsdale “is responsible for receiving NICS removal fees and for funding expert witnesses for mental defectives prior to a mental defective ...

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