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Hugh E. Stancil v. Commissioner of Social Security

July 7, 2011

HUGH E. STANCIL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 1)

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Hugh E. Stancil, ("Plaintiff") filed the instant action on June 8, 2011. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis on that same date. Plaintiff's application to proceed informa pauperis was granted on June 13, 2011. (Doc. 3).

Plaintiff appears to be challenging a reduction of his Medicaid benefits. As discussed below, Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed because it fails to state a claim. However, Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint.

II. 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 claimupon 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.

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusion are not. Id.

A complaint, or portion thereof, should only be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it appears beyond doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim or claims that would entitle him to relief. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984), citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957); see also Palmer v. Roosevelt Lake Log Owners Ass'n, 651 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1981). 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's complaint is confusing. However, it appears that Plaintiff is challenging a reduction of his Medicare benefits. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was receiving $845.00 per month in Social Security Insurance ("SSI") payments since 2006 due to his glaucoma. He was denied additional Social Security benefits initially, but was subsequently awarded benefits of$228.00 per month beginning February 2010.*fn1 As a result, Plaintiff contends that his Medicare benefits were reduced and he is contesting this reduction.*fn2 Plaintiff is seeking $10,000.00 and a reinstatement of his Medicaid benefits forthwith. Plaintiff has named Mr. Astrue, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration as the Defendant.

C. Analysis of Plaintiff's Claims

1. Rule 8(a)

As Rule 8(a) states, a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim." The rule expresses the principle of notice-pleading, whereby the pleader need only give the opposing party fair notice of a claim. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Rule 8(a) does not require an elaborate recitation of every fact a plaintiff may ultimately rely upon at trial, but only a statement sufficient to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Id. at 47. As noted above, detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (2009).

In this case, the complaint is not clear regarding the basis of Plaintiff's claim. Specifically, it is unclear whether Plaintiff is contesting the amount he was awarded in Social Security benefits, or whether he is contesting a reduction in his Medicare benefits. Furthermore, Plaintiff has done nothing more than state a legal conclusion that his Medicare benefits were unjustly reduced without providing sufficient details to support his claims. Plaintiff is advised that conclusory statements alone are not sufficient to state a cause of action. Because of the lack of clarity of Plaintiff's complaint, the Court will provide Plaintiff with some general guidelines and law that may apply to his claim. Plaintiff is to ...


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