The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Roger T. Benitez United States District Judge
(1) GRANTING MOTIONS TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS [ECF Nos. 5,7]; (2) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND [ECF No. 9]; AND (3) SUA SPONTE DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) AND § 1915A(b)
Darrel L. Smith ("Plaintiff"), currently detained at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department South Bay Detention Facility in Chula Vista, California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has not prepaid the $350 filing fee mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); instead, he has filed two separate Motions to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) [ECF Nos. 5, 7]. In addition, Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Amend his Complaint [ECF No. 9].
I. MOTIONS 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 he is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999). However, a prisoner granted leave to proceed IFP remains obligated to pay the entire fee in installments, regardless of whether his action is ultimately dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2); Taylor v. Delatoore, 281 F.3d 844, 847 (9th Cir. 2002).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, as amended by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), a prisoner seeking leave to proceed IFP must submit a "certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for ... the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1119 (9th Cir. 2005). From the certified trust account statement, the Court must assess an initial payment of 20% of (a) the average monthly deposits in the account for the past six months, or (b) the average monthly balance in the account for the past six months, whichever is greater, unless the prisoner has no assets. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). The institution having custody of the prisoner must collect subsequent payments, assessed at 20% of the preceding month's income, in any month in which the prisoner's account exceeds $10, and forward those payments to the Court until the entire filing fee is paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
The Court finds that Plaintiff has submitted certified copies of his trust account statements pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2. Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. These statements show Plaintiff has no money in his account, and therefore, insufficient funds with which to pay any initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) (providing that "[i]n no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil action or criminal judgment for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay [an] initial partial filing fee."); Taylor, 281 F.3d at 850 (finding that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) acts as a "safety-valve" preventing dismissal of a prisoner's IFP case based solely on a "failure to pay ... due to the lack of funds available.").
Therefore, the Court GRANTSPlaintiff's Motions to Proceed IFP [ECF Nos. 5, 7], and assesses no initial partial filing fee per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). However, the entire balance of the $350 filing fee owed in this case shall be collected and forwarded to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to the installment payment provisions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
II. MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT
A plaintiff has the right to amend his complaint once "as a matter of course" within 21 days after serving it, or if a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f) is filed, or a responsive pleading is required, within 21 days after service of the motion or responsive pleading. FED. R. CIV. P.15(a)(1)(A), (B).
Because Plaintiff is proceeding IFP in this case, and his original Complaint has yet to be screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) or ordered served pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d), his Motion to Amend his Complaint to "drop [his] complaint against William Gore," and only proceed with the claims alleged against Detective Tien is GRANTED [ECF No. 9].
III. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28U.S.C.§§1915(e)(2)&1915A(b)
The PLRA also obligates the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program," "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions of the PLRA, the Court must sua sponte dismiss complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).
"[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000); see also Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that § 1915(e)(2) "parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)"). In addition, courts "have an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985)). The court may not, however, "supply essential elements of claims that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Board of ...