United States District Court, S.D. California
ERIC C. CHATMAN, Plaintiff,
SUPER 8 MOTEL COMPANY, et al., Defendants.
ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA
PAUPERIS (ECF NO. 2) AND (2) DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION AS
FRIVOLOUS PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §
Cynthia Bashant United States District Judge
Eric C. Chatman, proceeding pro se and incarcerated at
California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
(“SATF”), in Corcoran, California, initiated this
civil rights action by filing a Complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 in the Eastern District of California on
January 26, 2018. (See ECF No. 1.)
did not prepay the $400.00 civil filing fee required by 28
U.S.C. § 1914(a) at the time of filing, but instead
filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
(“IFP”). (See ECF No. 2.) On January 30,
2018, the Honorable Stanley A. Boone, United States
Magistrate Judge, found venue was improper in Eastern
District, and transferred the case to this Court pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). (See ECF No. 3.) Judge
Boone did not rule on Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP,
nor did he screen Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e) or § 1915A prior to transfer.
(Id. at 2.)
Motion to Proceed IFP
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
$400.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). The
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 Andrews v.
Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1051 (9th Cir. 2007);
Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir.
1999). However, if the Plaintiff is a prisoner at the time of
filing, even if he is granted leave to proceed IFP, he
remains obligated to pay the entire filing fee in
“increments” or “installments, ”
Bruce v. Samuels, 136 S.Ct. 627, 629 (2016);
Williams v. Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1185 (9th Cir.
2015), and 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
1915(a)(2) requires prisoners seeking leave to proceed IFP to
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); Andrews v.
King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1119 (9th Cir. 2005). From the
certified trust account statement, the Court assesses an
initial payment of twenty percent 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); 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(4). The institution having custody of the
prisoner then collects subsequent payments, assessed at
twenty percent of the preceding month's income, in any
month in which his account exceeds $10.00, and forwards those
payments to the Court until the entire filing fee is paid.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2); Bruce, 136
S.Ct. at 629.
support of his IFP Motion, Plaintiff has submitted a copy of
his CDCR Inmate Statement Report showing his available
balance and trust account activity at SATF. (See ECF
No. 2 at 4); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); S.D. Cal. Civ. L.
R. 3.2; Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. This statement
shows while Plaintiff had $100.33 deposited to his account
over the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of
his Complaint, he had an available balance of zero
at the time of filing. (See ECF No. 2 at 4.)
on this accounting, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP, and will assess no
initial partial filing fee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(b)(1). See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4)
(providing that “[i]n no event shall a prisoner be
prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil
action or criminal judgment for the reason that the prisoner
has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial
partial filing fee.”); Bruce, 136 S.Ct. at
630; Taylor, 281 F.3d at 850 (finding that 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(4) acts as a “safety-valve”
preventing dismissal of a prisoner's IFP case based
solely on a “failure to pay . . . due to the lack of
funds available to him when payment is ordered.”). The
Court will further direct the Secretary of the CDCR, or his
designee, to instead collect the entire $350.00 balance of
the filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914 and forward
installments payments to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
Sua Sponte Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Standard of Review
prisoner's complaint “seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental
entity, ” the Court “shall review” the
pleading “as soon as practicable after docketing,
” and “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of
the complaint, if [it] . . . is frivolous, malicious, or
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b)(1);
Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 907 n.1 (9th Cir.
2014). Here, Plaintiff seeks to sue the Super 8 Motel
Company, and one of its motels in Oceanside, California,
because he was “robbed and jumped” by four
unidentified persons, whom he claims were selling drugs on
its premises. (See ECF No. 1 at 3-6.) Plaintiff does
not seek redress from or name any governmental actors or
entities as defendants. (Id. at 1-2.)
section 1915A(a)'s screening provisions do not apply.
See Chavez v. Robinson, 817 F.3d 1162, 1168 (9th
Cir. 2016) (“Section 1915A mandates early review . . .
for all complaints ‘in which a prisoner seeks relief
from a governmental entity . . . .”) (quoting §
1915A(a)); see also Thompson v. Hicks, 213 Fed.Appx.
939, 2007 WL 106785 at *3 (11th Cir. 2007) (noting that
because a private defendant was not a “governmental
entity” as described in § 1915A, prisoner's
complaint as to that defendant was not subject to dismissal
under § 1915A).
because Plaintiff is proceeding IFP, his Complaint
is still subject to sua sponte review, and
mandatory dismissal, if it is “frivolous, malicious,
fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
seek[s] monetary relief from a defendant immune from such
relief, ” regardless of whether he seeks redress from a
“governmental entity.” See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B); Coleman v. Tollefson, 135
S.Ct. 1759, 1763 (2015) (pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) “the court shall dismiss the case at any
time if the court determines that-(A) the allegation of
poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal-(i) is
frivolous or malicious; [or] (ii) fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted.”); Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc)
(“[S]ection 1915(e) not only permits, but requires a
district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that
fails to state a claim.”). The purpose of section
1915's screening provisions 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. 2012)).