United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE JOHN J. TUCHI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
issue is pro se Plaintiff Alice Minch's
Application for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
(Doc. 2). Having determined that Plaintiff is unable to pay
the Court's fees, the Court grants the Application.
However, as set forth below, upon screening Plaintiff's
Complaint (Doc. 1, Compl.) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state a
plausible claim on which this Court may grant relief.
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.
Sufficiency of a Claim
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)). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) 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). The
Court is to construe a pro se plaintiff's
complaint “liberally” and afford the plaintiff
“the benefit of any doubt.” Watison v.
Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (citation
omitted). However, 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.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Pleading in Federal
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.
2017, Plaintiff filed a prior lawsuit against the same
Defendants listed in the Complaint in this lawsuit based on
the same factual allegations. In the earlier suit, Plaintiff
first raised a Title VII claim and-after the Court's
dismissal of that claim-Plaintiff amended the Complaint to
raise a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Case No.
CV-17-02525-PHX-JJT, Docs. 1, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14.) The Court
dismissed Plaintiff's § 1983 claim because
Defendants, as members of a state medical licensing board,
enjoy immunity from Plaintiff's claim. (Case No.
CV-17-02525-PHX-JJT, Doc. 14.)
present Complaint, Plaintiff reframes her claim as new claims
under the Sherman Act and for state common law invasion of
privacy, negligence per se, and trespass to chattel. (Doc.
1.) Plaintiff again brings these claims against individual
members of the Arizona State Board of Nursing based on the
Board's decision to suspend, and later revoke,
Plaintiff's nursing license following a series of
administrative hearings. Plaintiff alleges that a religious
bias influenced the Board's decisions and findings
against her. After the Board issued those findings and its
ultimate decision, Plaintiff challenged the Board's
determination in both the Maricopa County Superior Court and
the Arizona Court of Appeals, each of which upheld the
Board's determination. See Minch v. Ariz. State Bd.
of Nursing, 2017 WL 2125723 (Ariz.Ct.App. May 16, 2017).
begin with, Plaintiff has not even begun to state a Sherman
Act antitrust claim against Defendants, nor could she.
Plaintiff alleges no antitrust behavior and, of course, the
alleged conduct of individual members of the Board in
revoking Plaintiff's nursing license is not the type of
conduct the nation's antitrust laws were enacted to
prevent. Because this federal law claim is the only basis for
the Court's subject matter jurisdiction in this case, the
Court will dismiss the remaining state law claims for lack of
the Court had jurisdiction over those claims, they suffer
from myriad fatal flaws, of which the Court will outline just
one. The Court only has jurisdiction over claims against
Arizona's state employees-including members of the
Board-for employment conduct if (1) Arizona has expressly
waived its Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity from, or
otherwise consented to, suit, or (2) Congress has enacted a
statute that explicitly abrogates the state's sovereign
immunity. See Broughton Lumber Co. v. Columbia R. Gorge
Comm'n , 975 F.2d 616, 619 (9th Cir. 1992). Congress
has not abrogated Arizona's sovereign immunity from state
common law claims, and Arizona has a statute that
specifically and expressly retains absolute immunity from ...