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Shaun Darnell Garland v. Matthew Cate

January 8, 2013

SHAUN DARNELL GARLAND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MATTHEW CATE,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Allison Claire United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER and FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 together with a request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

Plaintiff has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends that this action be summarily dismissed without leave to amend, and, accordingly, no filing fee will be assessed at this time. Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis will accordingly be denied as moot.

The Complaint

Screening Requirements The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.

A complaint must contain more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action;" it must contain factual allegations sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "The pleading must contain something more...than...a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Id., quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 1216, pp. 235-235 (3d ed. 2004). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

Leave to Amend

A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint, and some notice of its deficiencies, unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment. Cato v. U.S., 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995), citing Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987). However, this liberality in granting leave to amend is subject to qualification:

If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his claim on the merits. In the absence of any apparent or declared reason -such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.- the leave sought should, as the rules require, be 'freely given.'

Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

Futile amendments should not be permitted. See, e.g., DCD Programs, Ltd. v. Leighton, 833 F.2d 183, 188 (9th Cir. 1987), quoting Klamath-Lake Pharmaceutical Ass'n v. Klamath Medical Service Bureau, 701 F.2d 1276, 1293 (9th Cir. 1983). For example, leave to amend would be futile, and leave to amend properly denied, where a plaintiff's alleged facts, even if true, provide no basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction. See Orsay v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 289 F.3d 1125, 1136 (9th Cir. 2002); Pink v. Modoc Indian Health Project, Inc., 157 F.3d 1185, 1189 (9th Cir. 1998); Cato v. U.S., 70 F.3d at 1110. See also Newman-Green, Inc. v. Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 831 (1989) ("[28 U.S.C.] ยง 1653 speaks of amending ...


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