United States District Court, E.D. California
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was
accordingly referred to the undersigned by Local Civil Rule
302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), and has
submitted the affidavit required by that statute.
See 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915(a)(1). The motion to proceed
IFP will therefore be granted.
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 or not
the complaint is frivolous, 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
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.
8(a). Plaintiff's claims must be set forth simply,
concisely and directly. Fed.R.Civ.P. 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
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; 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).
court applies the same rules of construction in determining
whether the complaint states a claim on which relief can be
granted. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(court must accept the allegations as true); Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (court must construe
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff).
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). A formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not
suffice to state a claim. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007); Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
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.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. Pro se pleadings are liberally construed. See
Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). 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), superseded on other grounds by statute as stated in
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122 (9th Cir.2000)) (en
has filed a form complaint naming her former employer,
Raytheon Company. ECF No. 1 at 2, 5. In the section regarding
jurisdictional basis, plaintiff checked only the box
indicating diversity jurisdiction, but she provided
information requested for both the federal question and
diversity jurisdiction sections. As the basis for federal
question jurisdiction, she wrote “29 U.S.C. §
502(a)(1)(B).” Id. at 5. In the section for
diversity jurisdiction, plaintiff asserted that she is a
citizen of California and that Raytheon is incorporated, and
has its principal place of business in, Massachusetts.
Id. at 4-5.
entire statement of her claim consists of the following text:
“Plaintiff retired at normal date and did not withdraw
employee contributions. Defendant alleges plaintiff withdrew
$8, 331 with interest, thereby reducing pension pay
50%.” Id. at 5. In her request for relief, she
adds: “Plaintiff should have received $374.61 starting
Feb. 1, 2016 instead of $174.49 per month.”
Id. at 6. Plaintiff seeks “backpay of $7,
804.68” and $250, 000 in punitive damages. Id.
the court can tell, plaintiff intends to bring this action
under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”), 88 Stat. 832, as amended, 29
U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. There is no
statutory provision codified as “29 U.S.C. §
502(a)(1)(B).”However, Section 502(a)(1)(B) of ERISA,
codified at 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B), allows plan
participants or beneficiaries to sue to recover wrongfully
denied benefits. This appears to be what plaintiff is trying
to accomplish through this suit. Although 29 U.S.C. §
1132(a)(1)(B) provides a valid basis for federal subject
matter jurisdiction, this action cannot proceed on the
current pleading for the following reasons.
it is not clear from the face of the complaint whether the
court may exercise personal jurisdiction over Raytheon, a
nonresident defendant. Personal jurisdiction refers to the
power of the court to render an enforceable judgment against
the defendant. See Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714,
720-22 (1877). The burden is on plaintiff to show that
personal jurisdiction is appropriate. See Dole Food v.
Watts, 303 F.3d 1104, 1108 (9th Cir.2002). The court may
exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant
if permitted by the state's long-arm statute and
“if the exercise of that jurisdiction does not violate
federal due process.” In re W. States Wholesale
Nat. Gas Antitrust Litig., 715 F.3d 716, 741 (9th Cir.
2013). The defendant must have “minimum contacts”
with the forum state such that the exercise of jurisdiction
“does not offend traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.” Id. (quoting
Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316
(1945)). A federal district court may exercise general or
specific jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant.
Id. General jurisdiction may be established if the
plaintiff demonstrates that the ...