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Hagan v. Barenchi

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 29, 2018

KEVIN HAGAN, CDCR #AM-6145, Plaintiff,
v.
RYAN BARENCHI, Doctor CMO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER: 1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, (ECF NO. 2); AND 2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E)(2) AND § 1915A(B)

          Hon. Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Kevin Hagan, incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD'”) in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See “Compl., ” ECF No. 1.)

         Plaintiff claims RJD's Chief Medical Officer Ryan Barenchi, and three other RJD doctors (Santos, Clayton, and Mezzles), have “failed to address” his “severe pain” in violation of the Eighth Amendment in December 2014, and on other unspecified occasions in 2015, 2016, and 2017. (Id. at 1-3.) He seeks injunctive relief preventing retaliation and requiring “adequate pain medication, ” as well as $150, 000 in general and punitive damages. (Id. at 7.)

         Plaintiff did not prepay the civil filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) when he filed his Complaint; instead, he has filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), (ECF No. 2).

         I. Plaintiff's IFP Motion

         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.[1] 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, a prisoner who is granted leave to proceed IFP remains obligated to pay the entire 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 Cir. 2002).

         Section 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 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). The institution having custody of the prisoner then collects subsequent payments, assessed at 20% of the preceding month's income, in any month in which his account exceeds $10, 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.

         In support of his IFP Motion, Plaintiff has submitted a certified copy of his California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) Inmate Statement Report, together with a certificate of funds certified by a prison official at RJD, as required 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and Civ. L. R. 3.2. (See ECF No. 3, at 1-4); Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. These documents shows Plaintiff had average monthly deposits of $25.24, an average monthly balance of $36.68 over the 6-month period preceding the filing of his Complaint, and an available balance of $10.14 at the time of filing. (See ECF No. 3 at 1.) Based on this accounting, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP, (ECF No. 2), and assess an initial partial filing of $7.33 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         However, the Court will direct the Secretary of the CDCR, or his designee, to collect this initial fee only if sufficient funds are available in Plaintiff's account at the time this Order is executed. 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 remaining balance of the $350 total fee owed in this case must be collected and forwarded to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)

         A. Standard of Review

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner and is proceeding IFP, his Complaint requires a pre-answer screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss a prisoner's IFP complaint, or any portion of it, which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks damages from defendants who are immune. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)); Byrd v. Phoenix Police Dept., No. 16-16152, 2018 WL 1352916, at *2 (9th Cir. 2018) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). “The purpose of [screening] 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)).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule 12(b)(6) requires a complaint “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The “mere possibility of misconduct” or “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me ...


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