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Ybarra v. Buckeye Police Department

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 6, 2020

Nicol A. Ybarra, Plaintiff,
v.
Buckeye Police Department, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Application for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2), which the Court hereby grants. The Court will screen Plaintiff'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

         Plaintiff sued two defendants: (1) Buckeye City Police Department and (2) Buckeye Police Officer A. Price.

         The facts, in their entirety, are as follows: “The officer A. Price committed a federal crime against [Plaintiff] by committing perjury by law under the direct orders of his superiors to make the ‘Buckeye Police Department look fluffed up.'” (Doc. 1 at 1.) Plaintiff seeks $5 million in damages. (Id.)

         The facts as alleged do not give rise to any cognizable claims. In short, there is only one “fact” alleged-that Officer Price committed perjury-but this is a legal conclusion, which cannot support a cause of action. Ivey, 673 F.2d at 268. Additionally, the complaint does not allege a date on which the challenged conduct occurred.

         Furthermore, the Court has an obligation to determine whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction. Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999). Pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Plaintiff alleges that all parties are Arizona citizens and asserts that this Court has jurisdiction “pursuant to Arizona Blue Laws §§ Falsifying legal documents.” (Id.) Presumably, Plaintiff brings this action on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, as the complaint references a “federal crime.” (Doc. 1 at 1.) But no federal law is cited, and therefore Plaintiff failed to establish federal question jurisdiction.

         The Court will dismiss the complaint with leave to amend. “Dismissal of a pro se complaint without leave to amend is proper only if it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.” Schucker v. Rockwood, 846 F.2d 1202, 1203-04 (9th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “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).

         Plaintiff's amended complaint must adhere to all portions of Rule 7.1 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure (“LRCiv”). Additionally, Plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically, the amended complaint shall contain a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the Court's jurisdiction depends, a short and plain statement of each specific claim asserted against each Defendant, and a good faith demand for the relief sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(3). These pleading requirements are to be set forth in separate and discrete numbered paragraphs, and “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b) (“A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances.”). Where a complaint contains the factual elements of a cause, but those ...


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