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Bonilla v. Battaglia

United States District Court, S.D. California

December 17, 2019

STEVEN WAYNE BONILLA, CDCR #J-48500, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA, Defendant.

          (1) DENYING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(G) [ECF NO. 5]; AND (2) DISMISSING ACTION WITHOUT PREJUDICE FOR FAILURE TO PAY FILING FEE REQUIRED BY 28 U.S.C. § 1914(A)

          CYNTHIA BASHANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Steven Wayne Bonilla, proceeding pro se and currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, filed a civil action on October 2, 2019. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff has not prepaid the $400 filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) to commence a civil action; instead, he has filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (ECF No. 5) and a separate miscellaneous document entitled “Response to Court Ruling.”[1] (ECF No. 4.) The Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP and DISMISSES the action without prejudice for failure to pay the filing fee.

         I. MOTION TO PROCEED IFP

         A. Standard of Review

         “All persons, not just prisoners, may seek IFP status.” Moore v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 657 F.3d 890, 892 (9th Cir. 2011). Prisoners like Plaintiff, however, “face … additional hurdle[s].” Id. Specifically, in addition to requiring prisoners to “pay the full amount of a filing fee” in monthly installments or increments as provided by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3)(b), Williams v. Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1185 (9th Cir. 2015), the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) amended § 1915 to preclude the ability to proceed IFP

if [a] prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). “This subdivision is commonly known as the ‘three strikes' provision.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1116 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005).

         “Pursuant to § 1915(g), a prisoner with three strikes or more cannot proceed IFP.” Id.; see also Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1052 (9th Cir. 2007) (hereafter “Cervantes”) (under the PLRA, “[p]risoners who have repeatedly brought unsuccessful suits may entirely be barred from IFP status under the three strikes rule[.]”). The objective of the PLRA is to further “the congressional goal of reducing frivolous prisoner litigation in federal court.” Tierney v. Kupers, 128 F.3d 1310, 1312 (9th Cir. 1997). “[S]ection 1915(g)'s cap on prior dismissed claims applies to claims dismissed both before and after the statute's effective date.” Id. at 1311.

         “Strikes are prior cases or appeals, brought while the plaintiff was a prisoner, which were dismissed on the ground that they were frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim.” Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1116 n.1 (internal quotations omitted). Such complaints are dismissed for purposes of § 1915(g) “even if the district court styles such dismissal as a denial of the prisoner's application to file the action without prepayment of the full filing fee.” O'Neal v. Price, 531 F.3d 1146, 1153 (9th Cir. 2008). When courts “review a dismissal to determine whether it counts as a strike, the style of the dismissal or the procedural posture is immaterial. Instead, the central question is whether the dismissal ‘rang the PLRA bells of frivolous, malicious, or failure to state a claim.'” El-Shaddai v. Zamora, 833 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2016) (quoting Blakely v. Wards, 738 F.3d 607, 615 (4th Cir. 2013)).

         Once a prisoner has accumulated three strikes, section 1915(g) prohibits his pursuit of any subsequent IFP civil action or appeal in federal court unless he faces “imminent danger of serious physical injury.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1051- 52 (noting § 1915(g)'s exception for IFP complaints which “make[] a plausible allegation that the prisoner faced ‘imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing.”).

         B. Discussion

         As a required preliminary matter, the Court has reviewed Plaintiff's pleading and finds it does not contain any “plausible allegations” to suggest he “faced ‘imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing.” Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1055 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)).

         And while Defendants typically carry the initial burden to produce evidence demonstrating a prisoner is not entitled to proceed IFP, “in some instances, the district court docket may be sufficient to show that a prior dismissal satisfies at least one of the criteria under § 1915(g) and therefore counts as a strike.” Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119- 1120. That is the case here.

         A court may take judicial notice of its own records. See Molus v. Swan, No. 3:05-cv-00452-MMA-WMc, 2009 WL 160937, *2 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 22, 2009) (citing United States v. Author Services, 804 F.2d 1520, 1523 (9th Cir. 1986)). It also “‘may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue.'” Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1225 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bennett v. Medtronic, Inc., 285 F.3d 801, 803 ...


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