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Knight v. John

United States District Court, S.D. California

October 9, 2019

DONALD KORRIE KNIGHT, CDCR #AY-7867, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN & JANE DOES, Counselor & Correc. Officers, Records, 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 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(B)

          HON. LARRY ALAN BURNS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Donald Korrie Knight, while incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“RJD”) in San Diego, California, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (See Compl., ECF No. 1.) Knight seeks hold several unidentified RJD correctional officials liable for damages based on a delayed release date. (Id. at 3.)

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

         I. 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). However, prisoners who are granted leave to proceed IFP remain obligated to pay the entire fee in “increments” or “installments, ” Bruce v. Samuels, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 627, 629 (2016); Williams v. Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1185 (9th Cir. 2015), and regardless of whether their 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) also 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, Knight has submitted a copy of his CDCR Inmate Statement Report as well as a Prison Certificate completed by a trust account official at RJD (ECF No. 3). See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); S.D. Cal. CivLR 3.2; Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. These documents show that while he carried an average monthly balance of $8.40, he had no deposits to his trust account for the 6-months preceding the filing of this action, and an available balance of zero at the time of filing. (See ECF No. 3 at 1, 3.)

         Therefore, the Court GRANTS Knight's Motion to Proceed IFP (ECF No. 2), declines to exact any initial filing fee because his prison certificates indicate he may have “no means to pay it, ” Bruce, 136 S.Ct. at 629, and directs the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), or his designee, to instead collect the entire $350 balance of the filing fees required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914 and forward them to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to the installment payment provisions set forth in 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 Knight 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)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (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 to “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.

         B. Factual Allegations

         Knight offers only vague and conclusory allegations in his Complaint. For example, he claims that on June 5, 2019, he was informed that “three warrants/detainers” had been lodged against him in Los Angeles County, and at that time his “release date was July 1, 2019.” (Compl. at 3.) On June 30, 2019, however, he “received a disciplinary report division ‘F' (low division) for disobeying a direct order, ” and his release date was “moved” to July 31, 2019, as a result.[2] (Id.) Knight claims this denied him “access to the courts by some persons acting in concert to term[i]nate the detainers, ” and that “all defendants male and female, ” are “sued in their individual ...


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