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Lintz v. Donahoe

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 2, 2014

DEIDRA A. LINTZ, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICK R. DONAHOE, Defendant.

ORDER

DALE A. DROZD, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Deidra Lintz is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was referred to the undersigned in accordance with Local Rule 302(c)(21) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Plaintiff has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

Pursuant to federal statute, a filing fee of $350.00 is required to commence a civil action in federal district court. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). In addition, a $50.00 general administrative fee for civil cases must also be paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(b). The court may authorize the commencement of an action "without prepayment of fees... by a person who submits an affidavit" showing that she is unable to pay such fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

Here, plaintiff's in forma pauperis application reflects that, although plaintiff's net monthly wages are exceeded by her monthly expenditures, plaintiff has $3, 000 in cash or in a checking or savings account. (Dkt. No. 2 at 2.)

In light of plaintiff's stated financial situation, the court finds that plaintiff has failed to show that she is unable to pay the filing fees. Thus, plaintiff has made an inadequate showing of indigency. See Olivares v. Marshall , 59 F.3d 109, 111 (9th Cir. 1995) ("Requiring the payment of fees according to a plaintiff's ability to pay serves the dual aims of defraying some of the judicial costs of litigation and screening out frivolous claims.").

Moreover, "[a] district court may deny leave to proceed in forma pauperis at the outset if it appears from the face of the proposed complaint that the action is frivolous or without merit.'" Minetti v. Port of Seattle , 152 F.3d 1113, 1115 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting Tripati v. First Nat. Bank & Trust , 821 F.2d 1368, 1370 (9th Cir. 1987)). See also Smart v. Heinze , 347 F.2d 114, 116 (9th Cir. 1965) ("It is the duty of the District Court to examine any application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis to determine whether the proposed proceeding has merit and if it appears that the proceeding is without merit, the court is bound to deny a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis.").

The court must dismiss an in forma pauperis case at any time if the allegation of poverty is found to be untrue or if it is determined that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A complaint is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis 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). Under this standard, a court must dismiss a complaint 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; 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

To state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering whether a complaint states a cognizable claim, the court accepts as true the material allegations in the complaint and construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Hishon v. King & Spalding , 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hosp. , 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Love v. United States , 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v. Watt , 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981).

The minimum requirements for a civil complaint in federal court are as follows:

A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief... shall contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends..., (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the relief the pleader seeks.

FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a).

Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure adopt a flexible pleading policy, a complaint must give the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claims and must allege facts that state the elements of each claim plainly and succinctly. FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2); Jones v. Community Redev. Agency , 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions' devoid of further factual enhancements.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555, 557. A plaintiff must allege with at least some degree of particularity overt acts which the defendants engaged in that support the plaintiff's claims. Jones , 733 F.2d at 649.

Moreover, jurisdiction is a threshold inquiry that must precede the adjudication of any case before the district court. Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Cal. State Bd. of Equalization , 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988). Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may adjudicate only those cases authorized by federal law. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. , 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Willy v. Coastal Corp. , 503 U.S. 131, 136-37 (1992). "Federal courts are presumed to lack jurisdiction, unless the contrary appears affirmatively from the record.'" Casey v. Lewis , 4 F.3d 1516, 1519 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist. , 475 U.S. 534, 546 (1986)).

Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised by the court at any time during the proceedings. Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Prods., Inc. , 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir. 1996). A federal court "ha[s] an independent obligation to address sua sponte whether [it] has subject-matter jurisdiction." Dittman v. California , 191 F.3d 1020, 1025 (9th Cir. 1999). It is the obligation of the district court "to be alert to jurisdictional requirements." Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global Group, L.P. , 541 U.S. 567, 593 ...


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