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Julie Fritcher v. Melvin Joseph

December 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge



Plaintiff has filed a civil rights action along with an application to proceed in forma pauperis. This proceeding was referred in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 302.

I. In Forma Pauperis

The Court may authorize the commencement of an action in federal court without prepayment of fees if the party submits an affidavit that includes a statement of its assets and demonstrates that it is unable to pay the fees. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and has determined that she satisfies the requirements of § 1915(a)(1). Thus, Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED .

II. Screening Requirement

The Court is required to review a case filed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court must review the complaint and dismiss any portion thereof that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). If the Court determines the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend should be granted to the extent that the deficiencies in the pleading can be cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-28 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests[.]'" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Nevertheless, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of entitlement to relief under Rule 8(a)(2) requires more than "naked assertions," "labels and conclusions," or "formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57. The complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868, 883 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Vague and conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim. See Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

III. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff names Defendants Melvin Joseph, Mary Wuester, Stacey Mike, Janet Hansen, Beverly Newell, Ray Hunter, Richard Button, Kathy Fubunan, Does 1 through 244, and states that with the exception of Defendant Fubunan, all Defendants are Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribal members and officers. *fn1 (Doc. 1 at 2.)

Though the factual basis of Plaintiff's claims are not clear, Plaintiff appears to allege that Defendants, (acting in their capacity as tribal officers, members, or staff), violated Plaintiff's rights to due process and equal protection afforded under the federal constitution. Additionally Plaintiff avers that Defendants maintain illegal hiring practices and that their practices with regard to the expenditure of federal funds also violates unspecified portions of federal law. *fn2 (Id. at 3-5.) Based on the foregoing allegations, Plaintiff's prayer for relief seeks both compensatory and injunctive relief. (Id. at 7.)

IV. Federal question jurisdiction

The district court is a court of limited jurisdiction, and is not empowered to hear every dispute filed by litigants. See Exxon Mobil Corp v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005); A-Z Int'l. v. Phillips, 323 F.3d 1141, 1145 (9th Cir. 2003). The district court "possess[es] only the power authorized by Constitution and statute," and may only adjudicate claims raising federal questions or involving parties with diverse citizenship. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The federal courts are "presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case, unless the contrary affirmatively appears." A-Z Int'l, 323 F.3d at 1145 (quotations omitted).

In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the Court's jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, federal question jurisdiction. Federal question jurisdiction, arising under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, requires a complaint (1) arise under a federal law or the U.S. Constitution, (2) allege a "case or controversy" within the meaning of Article III, §2 of the U.S. Constitution, or (3) be authorized by a federal statute that ...

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