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Porter White v. Tina Campanella

March 24, 2011

PORTER WHITE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
TINA CAMPANELLA, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

Plaintiff Porter White ("Plaintiff"), appearing pro se and proceeding in forma pauperis, filed the instant action on March 9, 2011. He challenges the denial of welfare benefits/food stamps by employees of the Merced County Welfare Office and Human Services Agency. He names Tina Campanella, Sarah (Jane Doe), H. Hernandez, Sherri Johnson, Ling Cao (John Doe) and A. J. Smith as Defendants.

DISCUSSION

A. Screening Standard Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court must conduct an initial review of the complaint for sufficiency to state a claim. The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the court determines that the action is legally "frivolous or malicious," fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). If the court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by amendment.

In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the Court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hospital, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pro se pleadings liberally in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000), and resolve all doubts in the Plaintiff's favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

B. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff challenges the denial of food stamps and other benefits by Merced County employees. According to the complaint, Plaintiff and his wife, Stella White, applied for cash aid and food stamps on or about April 23, 2010. Plaintiff claims he was the applicant who applied for assistance on behalf of himself and his wife. Defendants allegedly changed the applicant name to Stella White and subsequently denied Plaintiff food stamps because of Stella White's alleged drug violation conviction. Plaintiff asserts that his wife entered a nolo contendere plea to a narcotics violation, which was used against him to deny benefits.

Defendant Campanella, an employee of the Merced County Welfare Office, sent Stella White a letter setting an appointment for May 7, 2010. Although Plaintiff's name was not mentioned in the notice to appear, Ms. H. Hernandez, a county employee, called Plaintiff's name during roll call. On May 7, 2010, Defendant H. Hernandez interviewed Plaintiff and his wife.

In June or July 2010, Defendant Johnson, an employee of the Merced County Eligibility Office, notified Plaintiff's wife of a pending appeal regarding denial of food stamps. Plaintiff informed Defendant Johnson that he, not his wife, filed the appeal. Defendant Johnson informed Plaintiff Ling Cao (John Doe), an employee of Merced County Human Services Agency, would be assigned to the case. Mr. Cao called Plaintiff and discussed the matter. After talking to Plaintiff by telephone, Mr. Cao refused to act on the matter.

In July or August 2010, Defendant A. J. Smith, an employee of Merced County Human Services, called Plaintiff to discuss the case. A few days later, Defendant Smith sent Plaintiff some papers, including a Superior Court transcript of the Stella White's sentencing for a drug violation in 1998. Defendant Smith reportedly informed Plaintiff that his wife's conviction for possession of drugs did not allow him to get food stamps.

Plaintiff claims racial discrimination because he "is a Black man . . . married to a Caucasian female." Complaint ¶ 10a. He alleges a civil conspiracy, deprivation of the right to make a contract in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, excess of jurisdiction by using the nolo contendere plea, denial of equal protection and due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

Plaintiff seeks actual damages in the amount of three hundred dollars and punitive damages in the amount of one hundred million dollars.

C. Discussion of Food Stamp Program

The causes of action asserted by Plaintiff are premised on his underlying ...


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