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Rodgers v. Superior Court of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

February 28, 2017

FLOYD ANTHONY RODGERS, Patient #067265-9, Plaintiff,
v.
SUPERIOR COURT OF SAN DIEGO, Defendants.

          ORDER (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS; and (2) DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF CAN BE GRANTED PURSUANT TO 28U.S.C.§1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)

          ROGER T. BENITEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Floyd Anthony Rodgers (“Plaintiff), proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights complaint (“Compl.”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was civilly detained at Atascadero State Hospital (“ASH”) in Atascadero, California.[1] (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff did not prepay the civil filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); instead he filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). (Doc.No. 2.)

         I. Motion to Proceed IFP

         All parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $400.[2]See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). The action may proceed despite a plaintiffs failure to prepay the entire fee only if he is granted leave to proceed 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).

         “Unlike other indigent litigants, prisoners proceeding IFP must pay the full amount of filing fees in civil actions and appeals pursuant to the PLRA [Prison Litigation Reform Act].” Agyeman v. INS, 296 F.3d 871, 886 (9th Cir. 2002). As defined by the PLRA, a “prisoner” is “any person incarcerated or detained in any facility who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h).

         A “civil detainee” is not a “prisoner” within the meaning of the PLRA. Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1122 (9th Cir 2005); Agyeman, 296 F.3d at 886 (holding that INS detainee not also facing criminal charges is not a “prisoner” under § 1915); see also Page v. Torrey, 201 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2000) (person confined under California's Sexually Violent Predator Law, while a “a ‘prisoner' within the meaning of the PLRA when he served time for his conviction, ... ceased being a ‘prisoner' when he was released from the custody of the Department of Corrections.”); Mullen v. Surtshin, 590 F.Supp.2d 1233, 1240 (N.D. Cal. 2008) (holding plaintiff “adjudicated NGI [not guilty by reason of insanity] and committed to [Napa State Hospital] as a result of that adjudication” was “not a prisoner as defined by the PLRA.”).

         As alleged in his Complaint, Plaintiff was a civilly committed patient at ASH, and not a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h) when he filed this action. (Doc. No. I.) Therefore, the filing fee provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b) do not apply. Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1122. Accordingly, the Court has reviewed Plaintiffs affidavit of assets as it would for any other non-prisoner litigant seeking IFP status, and finds it is sufficient to show that he is unable to pay the fees or post securities required to maintain this action. See S.D. Cal. CivLR 3.2(d). Plaintiffs Motion to Proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) is therefore GRANTED. (Doc. No. 2.)

         II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         A. Standard of Review

         A complaint filed by any person proceeding in forma pauperis is subject to sua sponte dismissal if it is “frivolous, malicious, fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek[s] monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (holding that “the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners.”); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (“[S]ection 1915(e) not only permits, but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim").

         All complaints must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[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) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct” falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Gir. 2009).

         “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Resnickv. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”); Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that § 1915(e)(2) “parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”).

         However, while the court “ha[s] an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt, ” Hebbe v. Pliler,627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Bretz v. Kelman, 113 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.l (9th Cir. 1985)), it may not “supply essential elements of claims that were not initially ...


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