United States District Court, E.D. California
DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Daniel James, is proceeding in this action pro se. This
matter was referred to the undersigned in accordance with
Local Rule 302(c)(21) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Pending
before the court are plaintiff's complaint and motion to
proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
(ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) Therein, plaintiff complains about
alleged civil rights violations stemming from “unlawful
and constitutionally invalid arrests.” (Compl. (ECF No.
1) at 2.)
court is required to screen complaints brought by parties
proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1129 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Here, plaintiff's
complaint is deficient. Accordingly, for the reasons stated
below, plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed with leave
Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma
in forma pauperis application makes the financial showing
required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). However, a
determination that a plaintiff qualifies financially for in
forma pauperis status does not complete the inquiry required
by the statute. “‘A district court may deny leave
to proceed in forma pauperis at the outset if it appears from
the face of the proposed complaint that the action is
frivolous or without merit.'” Minetti v. Port
of Seattle, 152 F.3d 1113, 1115 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting
Tripati v. First Nat. Bank & Trust, 821 F.2d
1368, 1370 (9th Cir. 1987)); see also McGee v. Department
of Child Support Services, 584 Fed.Appx. 638 (9th Cir.
2014) (“the district court did not abuse its discretion
by denying McGee's request to proceed IFP because it
appears from the face of the amended complaint that
McGee's action is frivolous or without merit”);
Smart v. Heinze, 347 F.2d 114, 116 (9th Cir. 1965)
(“It is the duty of the District Court to examine any
application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis to
determine whether the proposed proceeding has merit and if it
appears that the proceeding is without merit, the court is
bound to deny a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma
the court must dismiss an in forma pauperis case at any time
if the allegation of poverty is found to be untrue or if it
is determined that the action is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or
seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A complaint is
legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis in law or
in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28
(9th Cir. 1984). Under this standard, a court must dismiss a
complaint as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e).
state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff
must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering
whether a complaint states a cognizable claim, the court
accepts as true the material allegations in the complaint and
construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S.
69, 73 (1984); Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex
Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Love v. United
States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). Pro se
pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true
conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or
unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v.
Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981).
minimum requirements for a civil complaint in federal court
are as follows:
A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief . . . shall
contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon
which the court's jurisdiction depends . . ., (2) a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the
relief the pleader seeks.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).
plaintiff's complaint fails to contain a short and plain
statement of a claim showing that plaintiff is entitled to
relief. In this regard, plaintiff's complaint asserts
that plaintiff's rights were violated on several dates of
arrest. Specifically, the complaint alleges that on August
23, 2016, plaintiff was subjected to excessive force. (Compl.
(ECF No. 1) at 3.)
that a law enforcement officer used excessive force during
the course of an arrest is analyzed under the Fourth
Amendment and an objective reasonableness standard. See
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989). Under this
standard, “‘[t]he force which [i]s applied must
be balanced against the need for that force: it is the need
for force which is at the heart of the Graham
factors.'” Liston v. County of Riverside,
120 F.3d 965, 976 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Alexander v.
City and County of San Francisco, 29 F.3d 1355, 1367
(9th Cir. 1994)). Force is excessive when it is greater than
is reasonable under the circumstances.” Santos v.
Gates, 287 F.3d 846, 854 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing
Graham, 490 U.S. 386).
complaint, however, fails to identify the officer who
allegedly subjected plaintiff to excessive force or the facts
surrounding the application of force. Although the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure adopt a flexible pleading policy, a
complaint must give the defendant fair notice of the
plaintiff's claims and must allege facts that state the
elements of each claim plainly and succinctly. Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2); Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d
646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984). “A pleading that offers
‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of cause of action will not
do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual
enhancements.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S.662, 678 (2009) ...