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Caraffa v. Bell

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 5, 2019

Alfred E Caraffa, Plaintiff,
v.
Taco Bell, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Alfred E Caraffa's Application for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2), which the Court hereby grants. The Court will screen Caraffa's complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)[1] before it is allowed to be served. Pursuant to that screening, the complaint will be dismissed.

         I. Legal Standard

         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).

         II. Analysis

         Caraffa sued four defendants: (1) Taco Bell Cantina, (2) Phoenix Police Officer Ramos (#08017), (3) Phoenix Police Officer Lenguyen (#06445), and (4) John Doe, the manager of the Taco Bell Cantina in Collier Center (201 W. Washington St.).

         The facts alleged by Caraffa, in their entirety, are as follows:

[W]as trespassed [sic] by Phoenix police from Taco Bell Cantina for panhandling on the public sidewalk[.] [I] later entered Taco Bell [and was] told by the manager I could order, [b]ut had to leave[.] I stated his [a]ction[s] were [b]ases for civil lawsuits[.] [The manager] called the police [a]fter I left the business [and] made my way to 2nd and Washington train station.

(Doc. 1 at 4.)

         Caraffa included in his complaint a Phoenix Police Department “traffic ticket and complaint, ” dated October 25, 2019, issued by Officers Ramos and Lenguyen, charging Caraffa with “3rd degree trespass - real property” in violation of A.R.S. § 13-1502(A)(1)[2]. (Doc. 1 at 7.) The ticket informed Caraffa that he must appear at Phoenix Municipal Court on November 4, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. (Id.)

         In the jurisdictional section of the pro se complaint form requiring the plaintiff to “[l]ist the specific federal statues, federal treaties, and/or provisions of the United States Constitution that are at issue in this case, ” Caraffa wrote: “Due process, [a]buse of [p]ower[, ] [h]arassment of sexual orientation, discrimination of sexual orientation under [F]irst Amendment[, ] making false statements to ...


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