United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION: 1) FOR FAILING TO PAY FILING FEES REQUIRED BY 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) AND/OR FAILING TO FILE A MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)
AND 2) FOR FAILING TO FILE A COMPLAINT THAT ALLEGES FEDERAL SUBJECT MATTER
JURISDICTION PURSUANT TO FED.R.CIV.P. 3, FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(1)-(3) AND
WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.
Anthony Dion Miller ("Plaintiff"), a prisoner currently housed at San Diego County Sheriff's Department's George Bailey Detention Facility ("GBD") in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a letter with the Court, which while not altogether clear, appears to include allegations that an unidentified GBD official violated his Eighth Amendment rights on January 6, 2015. See Doc. No. 1 at 1-2. Plaintiff asks for "forms as to how to file a complaint" regarding the incident. Id. at 2.
Because Plaintiff is proceeding without counsel, the Court has liberally construed his letter as an attempt to commence a civil action, and has assigned it Civil Case No. 3:15-cv-0097-WQH-NLS. See Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988) (where a plaintiff appears in propria persona, the Court must construe his pleadings liberally and afford plaintiff any benefit of the doubt).
I. FAILURE TO PAY FILING FEE OR REQUEST IFP STATUS
However, all parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in any district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $400. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a party's failure to pay this filing fee only if the party is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1051 (9th Cir. 2007); Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999).
Plaintiff has not prepaid the $400 in filing and administrative fees required to commence a civil action, nor has he submitted a Motion to Proceed IFP in compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Therefore, no civil action can yet proceed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); Andrews, 493 F.3d at 1051.
II. INITIAL REVIEW OF PLAINTIFF'S PLEADING
"The first step in a civil action in a United States district court is the filing of [a] complaint with the clerk or the judge." 4 Wright, Miller, Kane, Marcus & Steinman, FED. PRAC. & PROC. CIV. § 1052 (3d ed. 2002 & Supp. 2014); FED.R.CIV.P. 3 ("A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court.") (emphasis added). Pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a), a complaint must contain: "(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, "... (2) a short and plain statement showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought." FED.R.CIV.P. 8(a)(1)-(3).
Federal courts have limited jurisdiction, and limitations on the court's jurisdiction "must neither be disregarded nor evaded." Moore v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 657 F.3d 890, 894 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978)). The Court must determine sua sponte whether it has subject matter jurisdiction. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1116 (9th Cir. 2004). See also FED.R.CIV.P. 12(h)(3) ("If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.").
Here, while it appears from Plaintiff's letter that he may wish to file a civil rights action against at least one GBD official, he does not currently allege subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a)(3). See Watson v. Chessman, 362 F.Supp.2d 1190, 1194 (S.D. Cal. 2005) ("The court will not... infer allegations supporting federal jurisdiction; federal subject matter [jurisdiction] must always be affirmatively alleged."). Thus, because Plaintiff has not filed a complaint that alleges federal jurisdiction or "states a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " Ashcroft v. Iqbal, U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted), his case must be dismissed. See Hamilton v. Brown, 630 F.3d 889, 892 n.3 (9th Cir. 2011) (noting court's obligation under the Prison Litigation Reform Act to "review, before docketing or as soon thereafter as practicable, any civil action brought by a prisoner seeking redress from a governmental entity, officer or employee, " and its requirement to dismiss complaints or any portion thereof that are "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, " or "seek[ing] monetary relief from a defendant who is immune" pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b)).
Because Plaintiff is proceeding without counsel, however, and his letter indicates his desire to initiate a civil rights action, the Court will sua sponte grant him an opportunity to do so. As noted above, however, Plaintiff's Complaint must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. "Each allegation [in a pleading] must be simple, concise, and direct. No technical form is required." FED.R.CIV.P. 8(d)(1).
Plaintiff is further cautioned that any complaint he files will be subject to an initial sua sponte screening and that it will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (because he is a prisoner) or 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (if he files a motion to proceed IFP) for failing to state a claim unless his pleading contains sufficient factual matter to show that: (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated; and (2) the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Campbell v. Washington Dep't of Soc. Servs., 671 F.3d 837, 842 n.5 (9th Cir. 2011). "Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to... § 1983 suits, " he must also plead that each Government-official defendant he wishes to sue, "through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 (emphasis added).
"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 678. "Under this rule, a claim must contain more than labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of the cause of action.'" Sheppard v. Evans & Assoc., 694 F.3d 1045, 1048 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To state an Eighth Amendment claim, in particular, Plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to show that each individual official he seeks to hold liable ...