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Reyes v. Modesto

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 9, 2014

VICTORIA LEAH REYES, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH MODESTO, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

KENDALL J. NEWMAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Victoria Leah Reyes ("plaintiff"), who is proceeding without counsel in this action, has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.[1] (ECF No. 2.) Plaintiff's application in support of his request to proceed in forma pauperis makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Accordingly, the undersigned grants plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis.

The determination that a plaintiff may proceed in forma pauperis does not complete the required inquiry. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court is directed to dismiss the case at any time if it determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if 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.

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.

To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than "naked assertions, " "labels and conclusions, " or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). In other words, "[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). Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief has facial plausibility. 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." Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1949. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus , 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes , 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

Pro se pleadings are liberally construed. See Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't. , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). Unless it is clear that no amendment can cure the defects of a complaint, a pro se plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is entitled to notice and an opportunity to amend before dismissal. See Noll v. Carlson , 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987); Franklin , 745 F.2d at 1230.

In this case, plaintiff alleges the following in her complaint: "I Socorro Martinez the Manager at the Golden Hotel1010 ½ 10th Street Sacramento California, 95814 received 125 dollars from Ralph Mendez and Victoria Reyes Mendez Deposti [sic] on Room #18." (Compl. at 2.) In addition, plaintiff states that she "would like to reopen [her] case 2:09-cv-03114 GEB KJN PS because [she] never received anything." (Id.)

After reviewing plaintiff's complaint and the court's records, it appears that plaintiff's claims in this action are barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion. Claim preclusion "bars litigation in a subsequent action of any claims that were raised or could have been raised in the prior action... The doctrine is applicable whenever there is (1) an identity of claims, (2) a final judgment on the merits, and (3) identity or privity between parties." Owens v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. , 244 F.3d 708, 713 (9th Cir. 2001) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has identified four factors that should be considered by a court in determining whether successive lawsuits involve an identity of claims:

(1) whether rights or interests established in the prior judgment would be destroyed or impaired by prosecution of the second action;
(2) whether substantially the same evidence is presented in the two actions;
(3) whether the two suits involve infringement of the same right; and
(4) whether the two suits arise out of the same transactional nucleus of facts.

See C.D. Anderson & Co. v. Lemos , 832 F.2d 1097, 1100 (9th Cir. 1987); accord Headwaters Inc. v. United States Forest Serv. , 399 F.3d 1047, 1052 (9th Cir. 2005); Littlejohn v. United States , 321 F.3d 915, 920 (9th Cir. 2003). "The central criterion in determining whether there is an identity of claims between the first and second adjudications is whether ...


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