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Chadwick v. San Diego Police Dep't

March 18, 2008

ARDY D. CHADWICK, CDCR #T-13047, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAN DIEGO POLICE DEP'T, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AS BARRED BY 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) [Doc. No. 2] AND DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION FOR FAILING TO PREPAY CIVIL FILING FEE REQUIRED BY 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a)

Ardy D. Chadwick ("Plaintiff"), a prisoner currently incarcerated at the California's Men Colony in San Luis Obispo, California, and proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Northern District of California on January 31, 2008. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges an undercover police officer with the San Diego Police Department used excessive force and unlawfully arrested him for selling drugs. (See Compl. at 5-7.) Plaintiff seeks $3.15 million in damages. (Id. at 6.)

On February 15, 2008, United States District Judge Ronald M. Whyte determined that venue was proper in the Southern District of California and transferred this case to this District.

Plaintiff has not prepaid the $350 filing fee mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) to commence a civil action; instead, he has filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) [Doc. No. 2].

II. MOTION TO PROCEED IFP

Section 1915 of Title 28 of the United States Code allows certain litigants to pursue civil litigation IFP, that is, without the full prepayment of fees or costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). However, the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") amended section 1915 to preclude the privilege to proceed IFP:

. . . if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). "This subdivision is commonly known as the 'three strikes' provision." Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1116 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005) (hereafter "Andrews"). "Pursuant to § 1915(g), a prisoner with three strikes or more cannot proceed IFP." Id.; see also Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1052 (9th Cir. 2007) (hereafter "Cervantes") (under the PLRA, "[p]risoners who have repeatedly brought unsuccessful suits may entirely be barred from IFP status under the three strikes rule[.]"). The objective of the PLRA is to further "the congressional goal of reducing frivolous prisoner litigation in federal court." Tierney v. Kupers, 128 F.3d 1310, 1312 (9th Cir. 1997).

"'Strikes' are prior cases or appeals, brought while the plaintiff was a prisoner, which were dismissed 'on the ground that [they were] frivolous, malicious, or fail[ed] to state a claim." Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1116 n.1. Thus, once a prisoner has accumulated three strikes, he is prohibited by section 1915(g) from pursuing any other action IFP in federal court unless he is under "imminent danger of serious physical injury." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1051-52 (noting § 1915(g)'s exception for IFP complaints which "make[] a plausible allegation that the prisoner faced 'imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing.").*fn1

While the PLRA does not require a prisoner to declare that § 1915(g) does not bar his request to proceed IFP, Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119, "[i]n some instances, the district court docket records may be sufficient to show that a prior dismissal satisfies at least one of the criteria under § 1915(g) and therefore counts as a strike." Id. at 1120. When applying 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), however, the court must "conduct a careful evaluation of the order dismissing an action, and other relevant information," before determining that the action "was dismissed because it was frivolous, malicious or failed to state a claim," since "not all unsuccessful cases qualify as a strike under § 1915(g)." Id. at 1121.

The Ninth Circuit has held that "the phrase 'fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,' as used elsewhere in § 1915, 'parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).'" Id. at 1121 (quoting Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998)). Andrews further holds that a case is "frivolous" for purposes of § 1915(g) "if it is of little weight or importance" or "ha[s] no basis in law or fact." 398 F.3d at 1121 (citations omitted); see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) ("[A] complaint, containing as it does both factual allegations and legal conclusions, is frivolous [under 28 U.S.C. § 1915] where it lacks an arguable basis in either law or in fact .... [The] term 'frivolous,' when applied to a complaint, embraces not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation."). "A case is malicious if it was filed with the intention or desire to harm another." Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1121 (quotation and citation omitted).

III. APPLICATION OF 28U.S.C.§1915(g)

The Court notes as an initial matter that it has carefully reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint and has ascertained that it makes no "plausible allegation" to suggest Plaintiff "faced 'imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing." Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1055 (quoting 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(g)). Therefore, Plaintiff may be barred from proceeding IFP in this action if he has on three prior occasions had civil ...


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