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Hall v. Shipley

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 7, 2019

Noel Edwart Stewart Hall, Plaintiff,
Christine Shipley, et al., Defendants.


          Dominic W. Lanza, United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Noel Edwart Stewart Hall's Application for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2), which the Court hereby grants. The Court will screen Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)[1] before it is allowed to be served. Pursuant to that screening, Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1) is dismissed with leave to amend. Also pending is Plaintiff's “Motion to Rule Ex Parte” (Doc. 7), which the Court construes as a motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and denies.

         I. Plaintiff's Complaint Is Dismissed With Leave To Amend

         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.

         “If a pleading can be cured by the allegation of other facts, a pro se litigant is entitled to an opportunity to amend before the final dismissal of the action.” Ball v. Cty. of Maricopa, 2017 WL 1833611, *1 (D. Ariz. 2017) (concluding that complaint could not be amended to state a cognizable claim and dismissing with prejudice).

         B. Analysis

         The complaint asserts that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff in violation of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). However, the complaint itself does not affirmatively allege any facts at all; the “statement of claim” section of the pro se complaint form is conspicuously blank. (Doc. 1 at 4.)

         Attached to the complaint is a form that Plaintiff submitted to the Arizona Attorney General's Office, Civil Rights Division. (Doc. 1-1 at 2.) In general, it is not the Court's responsibility to comb through the exhibits attached to a pro se complaint in an attempt to discern possible claims for relief. Cf. Turner v. Grievance Coordinator, 2014 WL 3002082, *3 (D. Nev. 2014) (dismissing complaint at the screening stage because “[t]he Court plainly informed plaintiff that all factual assertions relied upon to state his claims must be set forth within the four corners of his pleading” yet plaintiff made “no actual factual allegations in the amended complaint” and instead submitted “thirteen pages of exhibits attaching documents pertaining to grievances and disciplinary proceedings”). Nevertheless, in this case, the Court will attempt to do so.

         In the attached complaint form, Plaintiff alleged the following facts:

A. In or around July 16, 2018, [Plaintiff] signed a one year lease and moved into [a condominium unit (“the Leased Premises”)].
B. On June 13, 2019, [Plaintiff] was served with [a] Notice for Eviction because Respondent alleged [Plaintiff] made a threat to shoot the landlord's agents and associate parties. On June 27, 2019, [Plaintiff] received a thirty (30) Day Notice of Intent to not renew [Plaintiff's] lease and a notice was further provided that the landlord has decided to not renew [Plaintiff's] residential ...

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