UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
November 5, 2009
GRACE L. SANDOVAL, PLAINTIFF,
HARRY E. TEAR, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge
The matters before the Court are the Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis and the Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Doc. # 2, 3).
On November 3, 2009, Plaintiff Grace L. Sandoval, a nonprisoner proceeding pro se, initiated this action by filing the Complaint. (Doc. # 1). On November 3, 2009, Plaintiff also filed the Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("Motion to Proceed IFP"), and the Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Doc. # 2, 3).
I. Motion to Proceed IFP
All parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $350. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a plaintiff's failure to prepay the entire fee only if the plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999).
In her affidavit accompanying the Motion to Proceed IFP, Plaintiff states that she is not employed, receives unemployment insurance payments of $40 per week, has a checking account with a balance of $480, owns a 2002 Honda Civic, and does not have any other significant assets such as real estate, stocks, bonds or securities. (Doc. # 2 at 2-3). Plaintiff states that she owes $5,000 to the "U.S. Department of Education" and $700 to "Cash Collections." (Doc. # 2 at 3). The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's affidavit of assets and finds it is sufficient to show that Plaintiff is unable to pay the fees or post securities required to maintain this action. The Court grants the Motion to Proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).
II. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and possess only that power authorized by the Constitution and federal statute. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). This Court has "original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States," and "original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between ... citizens of different States." 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. "Whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). A court may raise the question of subject matter jurisdiction, sua sponte, at any time during the pendency of the action. See Snell v. Cleveland, Inc., 316 F.3d 822, 826 (9th Cir. 2002).
The Complaint appears to allege that Defendant owes Plaintiff $2,500, related to a "worker's compensation appeals board compromise." (Doc. # 1 at 1). Plaintiff does not allege a basis for federal jurisdiction for this claim. For this reason, the Complaint must be dismissed without prejudice.
III. Initial Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)
After granting IFP status, the Court must dismiss the case if the case "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted" or is "frivolous." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
The standard used to evaluate a motion to dismiss is a liberal one, particularly when the action has been filed pro se. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 (1976). However, even a "liberal interpretation ... may not supply elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).
Other than the allegation that Defendant owes Plaintiff $2,500 related to a worker's compensation appeal, the remaining nine pages of allegations are written without paragraphs, in a stream of consciousness manner that is often unintelligible and/or incoherent. These allegations are insufficient to put Defendant on notice of the claims against him, as required by Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 For this reason, the Court finds that Plaintiff fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted.
A complaint "is frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact. [The] term 'frivolous,' when applied to the complaint, embraces not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); see also Martin v. Sias, 88 F.3d 774, 775 (9th Cir. 1996). When determining whether a complaint is frivolous, the Court need not accept the factual allegations as true, but must "pierce the veil of the complaint," to determine if the allegations are "fanciful," "fantastic," or "delusional." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28).
The following is an example of the Complaint's allegations: Robert Goodman Senior is joined with the orphans from Orange County, California in organized crime and murder of many people from the human esophagus, human from drills to the human esophagus to keep hostage to demand money from spouse, siblings, parents, relatives, etc.... Bap Russo ... is joined with Philip Rand and many orphans from San Diego County, California, Orange County, California, Mexico, Iraq, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Italy, Germany, etc. in forcing ecstasy in the human mouth of many teenagers to force sex, to force illegal drugs, to force pregnancy, to kidnap, to take hostage, to murder. (Doc. # 1 at 3-4). The Complaint contains nine pages of rambling, often-fantastic allegations similar to the example quoted above. The Court dismisses the Complaint as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i).
III. Appointment of Counsel
In light of the Court's sua sponte dismissal of this action, Plaintiff's request for appointment of counsel is denied as moot.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion for Leave to Proceed in Formal Pauperis (Doc. # 2) is GRANTED. The Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice, and this case shall be closed. The Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. # 3) is DENIED as moot.
WILLIAM Q. HAYES United States District Judge