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Sekerke v. City of National City

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 4, 2019

KEITH SEKERKE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NATIONAL CITY; NATIONAL CITY POLICE DEP'T; KEVIN HIRSH; MATT SMITH; ANTHONY SABALA; OMAR RAMIREZ; STEVEN ANDERSON; VINCENT FERNANDO; EMMA CABATA; SHANE McCLURE; MATTHEW CARDOZA; JOHN DOUGHERT, Defendants.

          ORDER: 1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS [DOC. NO. 2] AND 2) DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION SUA SPONTE FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF CAN BE GRANTED PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E)(2)(B)(II) & § 1915A

          Hon. Larry Alan Burns, Chief Judge.

         Keith Sekerke (“Plaintiff”), currently housed at the San Diego Central Jail (“SDCJ”) and represented by counsel, has filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages against the National City, National City Police Department (“NCPD”), and several NCPD officers. See Compl., Doc. No. 1 at 1-2.

         Plaintiff did not pay the filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) to commence a civil action 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). See Doc. No. 2.

         Before the Court could conduct the required screening, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) which is the operative pleading. See Doc. No. 4.

         I. Motion to Proceed IFP

         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, __ U.S. __, 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 prison certificate authorized by a San Diego County SDCJ Facility Captain. See Doc. No. 2 at 4; 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); S.D. Cal. CivLR 3.2; Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. This certificate attests that Plaintiff an available balance of $0.00 at the time of filing. See Doc. No. 2 at 4. Thus, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP (Doc. No. 2) and assesses no initial partial filing fee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)

         A. Standard of Review

         A complaint filed by any person proceeding in forma pauperis is subject to sua sponte dismissal, however, 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) (per curiam) (holding that “the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners.”); 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.”).

         All complaints must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “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” falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000) (“[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”); Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that § 1915(e)(2) “parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”).

         However, while the court “ha[s] an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt, ” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985)), it may not “supply essential elements of claims that were not ...


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