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Mimms v. State

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 11, 2017

JARED BENJAMIN MIMMS, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants.

          (1) GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (ECF, 2); AND

          (2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE FOR LACK OF STANDING AND FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

          HON CYNTHIA BASH ANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jared Benjamin Mimms is proceeding pro se-without an attorney. He filed a handwritten complaint on March 14, 2017, against the State of California, an individual identified as “Josh, ” the “In Home Outreach Team, ” and the County of San Diego. He seeks millions of dollars in damages arising out of an alleged assault and threatened kidnapping. Plaintiff has also filed a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”)-without prepaying court fees or costs.

         For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP and DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE his Complaint for lack of standing and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         I. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IFP

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, a litigant who because of indigency is unable to pay the required fees or security to commence a legal action may petition the court to proceed without making such payment. The determination of indigency falls within the district court's discretion. Cal. Men's Colony v. Rowland, 939 F.2d 854, 858 (9th Cir. 1991) (holding that “Section 1915 typically requires the reviewing court to exercise its sound discretion in determining whether the affiant has satisfied the statute's requirement of indigency”), rev'd on other grounds, 506 U.S. 194 (1993). It is well-settled that a party need not be completely destitute to proceed IFP. Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339-40 (1948). To satisfy the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), “an affidavit [of poverty] is sufficient which states that one cannot because of his poverty pay or give security for costs . . . and still be able to provide himself and dependents with the necessities of life.” Id. at 339. At the same time, however, “the same even-handed care must be employed to assure that federal funds are not squandered to underwrite, at public expense . . . the remonstrances of a suitor who is financially able, in whole or in material part, to pull his own oar.” Temple v. Ellerthorpe, 586 F.Supp. 848, 850 (D.R.I. 1984).

         District courts, therefore, tend to reject IFP applications where the applicant can pay the filing fee with acceptable sacrifice to other expenses. See, e.g., Stehouwer v. Hennessey, 841 F.Supp. 316, 321 (N.D. Cal. 1994) (finding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in requiring a partial fee payment from a prisoner who had a $14.61 monthly salary and who received $110 per month from family), vacated in part on other grounds by Olivares v. Marshall, 59 F.3d 109 (9th Cir. 1995). Moreover, “in forma pauperis status may be acquired and lost during the course of litigation.” Wilson v. Dir. of Div. of Adult Insts., No. CIV S-06-0791, 2009 WL 311150, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 9, 2009) (citing Stehouwer, 841 F.Supp. at 321); see also Allen v. Kelly, 1995 WL 396860, at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 29, 1995) (holding that a plaintiff who was initially permitted to proceed in forma pauperis should be required to pay his $120 filing fee out of a $900 settlement). Finally, the facts as to the affiant's poverty must be stated “with some particularity, definiteness, and certainty.” United States v. McQuade, 647 F.2d 938, 940 (9th Cir. 1981).

         Having read and considered Plaintiff's application, the Court finds that Plaintiff meets the requirements in 28 U.S.C. § 1915 for IFP status. Plaintiff is unemployed and receives $337.00 per month in public assistance. (IFP Mot. ¶¶ 1, 2, ECF No. 2.) He does not own an automobile, real estate, or any other significant asset. (Id. ¶¶ 4-6.) His savings consist of $50.00 in cash. (Id. ¶ 4.) Under these circumstances, the Court finds that requiring Plaintiff to pay the court filing fees would impair his ability to obtain the necessities of life. See Adkins, 335 U.S. at 339.

         In light of the foregoing, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed IFP (ECF No. 2).

         II.SCREENING UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         A. Legal Standard

         A complaint filed by a plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam). This provision requires the court to review the complaint and dismiss the action if it: “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         To determine whether the action must be dismissed under the second ground- a failure to state a claim-the court applies “the familiar standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Rosati v. Igbinoso, 791 F.3d 1037, 1039 (9th Cir. 2015).

         Under this standard, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “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.” I ...


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