United States District Court, S.D. California
LEONARD WALTERS, aka JAMES C. WALTERS, CDCR #BC-6589, Plaintiff,
SHERIFF, San Diego County, et al., Defendants.
ORDER: 1) DENYING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) [ECF No. 2] AND 2)
DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION AS FRIVOLOUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge
WALTERS, also known as James C. Walters
(“Plaintiff”), currently incarcerated at
California Institution for Men (“CIM”) in Chino,
California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights
Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1).
not prepaid the $400 civil filing fee required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a), but instead has filed a Motion to Proceed In
Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a) (ECF No. 2).
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. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a
plaintiff's failure to prepay the entire fee only if he
is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177
(9th Cir. 1999). However, if the plaintiff is a prisoner at
the time of filing, he may be granted leave to proceed IFP,
but he nevertheless remains obligated to pay the entire fee
in “increments, ” see Williams v.
Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1185 (9th Cir. 2015), regardless
of whether his action is ultimately dismissed. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2); Taylor v.
Delatoore, 281 F.3d 844, 847 (9th Cir. 2002). A
“prisoner” is defined as “any person”
who at the time of filing is “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 or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial
release, or diversionary program.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(h); Taylor, 281 F.3d at 847.
order to comply with the PLRA, prisoners seeking leave to
proceed IFP must also submit a “certified copy of
the[ir] trust fund account statement (or institutional
equivalent) ... for the 6-month period immediately preceding
the filing of the complaint....” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(2). From the certified trust account statement, the
Court assesses an initial payment of 20% of (a) the average
monthly deposits in the account for the past six months, or
(b) the average monthly balance in the account for the past
six months, whichever is greater, unless the prisoner has no
assets. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), (4);
see Taylor, 281 F.3d at 850. Thereafter, the
institution having custody of the prisoner collects
subsequent payments, assessed at 20% of the preceding
month's income, in any month in which the prisoner's
account exceeds $10, and forwards them to the Court until the
entire filing fee is paid. See 28 U.S.C. §
Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Proceed IFP pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a), he has not attached a certified copy
of his CIM trust account statements for the 6-month period
immediately preceding the filing of his Complaint.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); S.D. Cal. CivLR
3.2. Section 1915(a)(2) clearly requires that prisoners
“seeking to bring a civil action ... without prepayment
of fees ... shall submit a certified copy
of the trust fund account statement (or institutional
equivalent) ... for the 6-month period immediately preceding
the filing of the complaint.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(2) (emphasis added).
Plaintiff's certified trust account statement, the Court
is unable to assess the appropriate amount of the initial
filing fee which is statutorily required to initiate the
prosecution of this action. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(b)(1). For this reason, Plaintiff's Motion to
Proceed IFP (ECF No. 2) is DENIED.
Sua Sponte Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, also obligates the Court to review complaints
filed by anyone “incarcerated or detained in any
facility who is accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated
delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or
conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or
diversionary program, ” “as soon as practicable
after docketing” and regardless of whether the prisoner
prepays filing fees or moves to proceed IFP. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c). Pursuant to this provision of
the PLRA, the Court is required to review prisoner complaints
which “seek redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a government entity, ” and to
dismiss those, or any portion of those, which are
“frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, ” or which “seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune.” 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2); Resnick v. Hayes, 213
F.3d 443, 446-47 (9th Cir. 2000); Hamilton v. Brown,
630 F.3d 889, 892 n.3 (9th Cir. 2011). “The purpose of
§ 1915A is ‘to ensure that the targets of
frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of
responding.'” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d
903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Wheeler v. Wexford
Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 681 (7th Cir.
of whether Plaintiff paid the filing fee, or filed a properly
supported Motion to Proceed IFP, however, a preliminary
review of his Complaint shows this case is subject to sua
sponte dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)
because it is duplicative of another civil action Plaintiff
filed in the Southern District just three weeks before he
filed this case. See Walters v. Sheriff, ., S.D.
Cal. Civil Case No. 3:17-cv-00902-GPC-JMA (“Walters
I”) (ECF No. 1). A court “‘may take
notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and
without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings
have a direct relation to matters at issue.'”
Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1225 (9th Cir.
2007) (quoting Bennett v. Medtronic, Inc., 285 F.3d
801, 803 n.2 (9th Cir. 2002)).
prisoner's complaint is considered frivolous under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) if it “merely repeats pending
or previously litigated claims.” Cato v. United
States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1105 n.2 (9th Cir. 1995)
(construing former 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)) (citations and
internal quotations omitted). In Walters I,
Plaintiff alleged, as he does in this case, that several
unidentified San Diego County Sheriff's Department
deputies, doctors, and “medical staff” provided
him inadequate medical care and subjected him to a
“demoralizing” strip search while he was in their
custody in late April and early May 2016. Compare
S.D. Cal. Civil Case No. 3:17-cv-00902-GPC-JMA (ECF No. 1 at
2-7) with ECF No. 1 in S.D. Cal. Civil Case No.
3:17-cv-1071-DMS-PCL (ECF No. 1 at 2-10).
the allegations in Plaintiff's current Complaint are
factually similar, arose during the same two-week period of
time, and are based on the same legal grounds as those he
alleged against a similar group of “unknown”
Sheriff's Department officials in his previously filed
Complaint in Walters I, the Court will dismiss this
duplicative and subsequently filed civil case pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). See Cato, 70 F.3d at 1105
n.2; Resnick, 213 F.3d at 446 n.1; see also
Adams v. Cal. Dep't of Health Servs., 487 F.3d 684,
688-89 (9th Cir. 2007) (“[I]n assessing whether the
second action is duplicative of the first, [the court must]
examine whether the causes of action and relief sought, as
well as the parties or privies to the action, are the
same.”), overruled on other grounds by Taylor v.
Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880, 904 (2008).