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McPike v. United States Federal Bureau of Investigation

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 17, 2014

PAUL McPIKE, Plaintiff,
v.
THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, Defendant.

ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

KENDALL J. NEWMAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Paul McPike, who is proceeding without counsel in this action, filed his complaint and an application to proceed in forma pauperis on July 16, 2014.[1] (ECF Nos. 1, 2.) For the reasons stated below, the court grants plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, but recommends that the complaint be dismissed with prejudice.

I. Plaintiff's Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis

Plaintiff requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Plaintiff's application and declaration make the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Accordingly, the court grants plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis.

II. Screening Plaintiff's Complaint

A. General Screening Standards

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 a case filed pursuant to the in forma pauperis statute if, at any time, it determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue, the action is frivolous or malicious, the complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or the action 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.

In assessing whether a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted, the court adheres to "notice pleading" standards. See, e.g., Paulsen v. CNF, Inc. , 559 F.3d 1061, 1071 (9th Cir. 2009). The notice pleading standards are codified, in part, in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which provides:

(a) Claim for Relief. A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:
(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support;
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
(3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.

However, a complaint must contain more than "naked assertions, " "labels and conclusions, " or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atl. 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 , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have 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 , 556 U.S. at 678. 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 , 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (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 construed liberally. 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 the complaint before ...


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