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Ransom v. Sacramento Veteran Resource Center

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 13, 2017

CLINTON RANSOM, Plaintiff,
v.
SACRAMENTO VETERAN RESOURCE CENTER, 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

         The allegations of the complaint are taken as true only for purposes of this screening. Plaintiff alleges that defendants prevented him from taking grant money to which he was entitled. ECF No. 1 at 4-5. Plaintiff alleges that employees at the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center prevented him from receiving furniture to which he was entitled, and failed to pay his storage fees as they were supposed to do. Id. Under “Basis for Jurisdiction, ” plaintiff checked the box labeled “Federal question.” Id. at 3. Where asked to identify the specific federal statutes, federal treaties, and/or provisions of the United States Constitution at issue, plaintiff wrote: “failed to allow me to use $1000.00 grant money deposit for the year 2015 from 6-1-2015 to Sept. 30 2015 denied me grant money assistance for SMUD that I qualified for.” Id. at 4.

         B. Analysis

         This court lacks jurisdiction over this lawsuit, and accordingly it must be dismissed. To bring a case in federal court, a party must either bring a claim under federal law, or demonstrate that the parties are from different states and that over $75, 000 is in controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 1331, § 1332. Although plaintiff checks the “federal question” box on the complaint form, no federal law claims are alleged or otherwise appear from the facts as stated. For this reason, it does not appear that this federal court can hear this case.

         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 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.

         Plaintiff must avoid excessive repetition of the same allegations. Plaintiff must avoid narrative and storytelling. That is, the complaint should not include every detail of what happened, nor recount the details of conversations (unless necessary to establish the claim), nor give a running account of plaintiff's hopes and thoughts. Rather, the amended ...


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