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Engelbrecht v. Kern County Adult Protective Services

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 16, 2017

TONYA ENGELBRECHT, Plaintiff,
v.
KERN COUNTY ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was accordingly referred to the undersigned by E.D. Cal. 302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and has submitted the affidavit required by that statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The motion to proceed IFP will therefore be granted.

         I. SCREENING

         Granting IFP status does not end the court's inquiry. The federal IFP statute requires federal courts to dismiss a case if the action is legally “frivolous or malicious, ” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         Plaintiff must assist the court in determining whether the complaint is frivolous or not, by drafting the complaint so that it complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.”). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are available online at www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/current-rules-practice-procedure/federal-rules-civil-procedure. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint must contain (1) a “short and plain statement” of the basis for federal jurisdiction (that is, the reason the case is filed in this court, rather than in a state court), (2) a short and plain statement showing that plaintiff is entitled to relief (that is, who harmed the plaintiff, and in what way), and (3) a demand for the relief sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. (“Rule”) 8(a). Plaintiff's claims must be set forth simply, concisely and directly. Rule 8(d)(1). Forms are available to help pro se plaintiffs organize their complaint in the proper way. They are available at the Clerk's Office, 501 I Street, 4th Floor (Rm. 4-200), Sacramento, CA 95814, or online at www.uscourts.gov/forms/pro-se-forms.

         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). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the court will (1) accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they are clearly baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and (3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. See Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 564 U.S. 1037 (2011); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 340 (9th Cir. 2010). However, the court need not accept as true, legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations, or allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice. See Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.), as amended, 275 F.3d 1187 (2001).

         Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Pro se complaints are construed liberally and may only be dismissed if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2014). A pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity to amend, unless the complaint's deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

         A. The Complaint

         Plaintiff's complaint does not make any clear allegations against any defendants. Under the “Statement of Claim” section in the complaint form, she writes “Despite ‘irrefutable evidence' of financial crimes, vandalism, false arrest, Kern County Adult Protective Services denied my case five times. Brand New Day and Kern CO. Adult Protective Services are in collusion, committing fraud, identity theft, and harming disabled persons.” ECF No. 1 at 5. Under the “Relief” section, plaintiff states that she is seeking criminal prosecution against all parties involved. Id. at 6.

         B. Analysis

         Plaintiff has failed to state a legal claim, and therefore her complaint must be dismissed. In order to survive IFP screening, the complaint must allege facts showing that defendant engaged in some conduct that the law prohibits (or failed to do something the law requires), and that in doing so, defendant harmed plaintiff. Plaintiff has not met this threshold. Additionally, to the extent plaintiff seeks criminal prosecution against defendants, plaintiff is unable to do so. There is no right of private prosecution in federal court; a private individual cannot criminally prosecute, or cause the government to criminally prosecute, another private individual. Leeke v. Timmerman, 454 U.S. 83, 86-87 (1981), citing Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 618-19 (1973).

         Plaintiff has not alleged the violation of any particular law, or made any particular allegation against any defendant. It is not clear from the few factual allegations of the complaint whether plaintiff could possibly state a claim that can be heard in this court, and that would entitle her to relief. Plaintiff will therefore be given an opportunity to amend her complaint.

         II. AMENDING THE COMPLAINT

         If plaintiff chooses to amend his complaint, the amended complaint must allege facts establishing the existence of federal jurisdiction. In addition, it must contain a short and plain statement of plaintiff's claims. The allegations of the complaint must be set forth in sequentially numbered paragraphs, with each paragraph number being one greater than the one before, each paragraph having its own number, and no paragraph number being repeated anywhere in the complaint. Each paragraph should be limited “to a single set of circumstances” where possible. Rule 10(b). As noted above, forms are available to help plaintiffs organize their ...


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