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Goods v. Bakersfield Police Department

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 2, 2017

CHARLES GOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
BAKERSFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ORDER DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Charles Goods seeks to proceed pro se and in forma pauperis in this action against the Bakersfield Police Department for a violation of his civil rights. (Doc. 1, 3) Because Plaintiff fails to clearly identify the cause of action upon which he seeks to proceed, or to allege facts sufficient for the Court to find he states a cognizable claim, the complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend.

         I. Proceeding in forma pauperis

         The Court may authorize the commencement of an action without prepayment of fees “by a person who submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such person . . . possesses [and] that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The Court reviewed the financial status affidavit (Doc. 3), and finds the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) are satisfied. Therefore, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED.

         II. Screening Requirement

         When a plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis, the Court is required to review the complaint, and shall dismiss the complaint if it is “frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or . . . seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2). A plaintiff's claim is frivolous “when the facts alleged arise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992).

         III. Pleading Standards

         General rules for pleading complaints are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A pleading stating a claim for relief must include a statement affirming the court's jurisdiction, “a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief; and . . . a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The Federal Rules adopt a flexible pleading policy, and pro se pleadings are held to “less stringent standards” than pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521-21 (1972).

         A complaint must give fair notice and state the elements of the plaintiff's claim in a plain and succinct manner. Jones v. Cmty Redevelopment Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). Further, a plaintiff must identify the grounds upon which the complaint stands. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). The Supreme Court noted,

Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Conclusory and vague allegations do not support a cause of action. Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982). The Court clarified further,

[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” [Citation]. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. [Citation]. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. [Citation]. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'

Iqbal, 566 U.S. at 678 (citations omitted). When factual allegations are well-pled, a court should assume their truth and determine whether the facts would make the plaintiff entitled to relief; legal conclusions in the pleading are not entitled to the same assumption of truth. Id.

         The Court has a duty to dismiss a case at any time it determines an action fails to state a claim, “notwithstanding any filing fee that may have been paid.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915e(2). Accordingly, a court “may act on its own initiative to note the inadequacy of a complaint and dismiss it for failure to state a claim.” See Wong v. Bell, 642 F.2d 359, 361 (9th Cir. 1981) (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1357 at 593 (1963)). However, leave to amend a complaint may be granted to the extent deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by an amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-28 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

         IV. Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that he “was sitting in front of the Hungry Hunters Restaurant … enjoying his solitude and personal space” when a Bakersfield Police Officer approached him. (Doc. 1 at 3) Plaintiff asserts he was “coerced into identifying himself, ” after which the officer “falsely and repeatedly called the plaintiff a child molester and filthy jack ass.” (Id.) Plaintiff contends the officer was “unreasonably ...


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