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Dawes v. People

United States District Court, S.D. California

December 20, 2019

WILLIAM DAWES, Booking #19760125, Plaintiff,
v.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS; [DOC. NO. 2] GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO AMEND; [DOC. NOS. 6, 8] DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E)(2)(B) AND 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(B)

          HON. MICHAEL M. ANELLO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff William Dawes, currently incarcerated at the San Diego County Sheriff Department's Central Jail (“SDCJ”) in San Diego, California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Compl., Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff did not pay the fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) 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) (Doc. No. 2).

         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).

         In support of his IFP Motion, Plaintiff has submitted a Prison Certificate signed by a Sheriff's Detentions Lieutenant, together with a certified copy of his San Diego Sheriff's Department Statement Report showing his trust account activity at the time of filing. See Doc. No. 2 at 5-6; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); S.D. Cal. CivLR 3.2; Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. These statements show that Plaintiff carried an average monthly balance of $69.93, and had $115.00 in average monthly deposits to his account over the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of his Complaint. He had an available balance of $459.93 at the time of filing. See Doc. No. 5 at 6.

         Based on this accounting, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP and assesses his initial partial filing fee to be $23.00 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The remaining balance of the $350 total fee owed in this case must be collected by the agency having custody of the prisoner and forwarded to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. Screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A

         A. Standard of Review

         Because Plaintiff 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 review and sua sponte dismiss an IFP complaint, and any complaint filed by a prisoner seeking redress from a governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, 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)).

         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).

         “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 “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         “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.”). 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 initially pled.” Ivey v. Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

         Finally, the “[c]ourt[] must consider the complaint in its entirety, ” including “documents incorporated into the complaint by reference” to be part of the pleading when determining whether the plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c) (“A copy of a written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading for all purposes.”); Schneider v. California Dept. of Corrections, 151 F.3d 1194, 1197 n.1 (9th Cir. 1998).

         B. Plaintiff's Allegations and Rule 8

         As an initial matter, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Rule 8 provides that in order to state a claim for relief in a pleading it must contain “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction” and “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1) & (2); see McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1178-80 (9th Cir. 1996) (upholding Rule 8(a) dismissal of complaint that was “argumentative, prolix, replete with redundancy, and largely irrelevant”); Cafasso, United States ex rel. v. General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., 637 F.3d 1047, 1059 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing cases upholding Rule 8 dismissals where pleadings were “verbose, ” “confusing, ” “distracting, ambiguous, and unintelligible, ” “highly repetitious, ” and comprised of “incomprehensible rambling, ” while noting that “[o]ur district courts are busy enough without having to penetrate a tome approaching the magnitude of War and Peace to discern a plaintiff's claims and allegations.”).

         Plaintiff is also admonished that he must comply with Local Rule 8.2 which requires, in part, that “[c]omplaints by prisoners under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, must be legibly written or typewritten on forms supplied by the court” and “[a]dditional pages not to exceed fifteen (15) in number may be included with the court approved form complaint, provided the form is completely filled ion to the extent applicable.” S.D. CivLR 8.2(a). Here, Plaintiff has filed a forty three (43) page Complaint which well exceeds the number of pages permitted by the local rule.

         Plaintiff also refers to a number of claims but does not allege any facts to form the basis of the claims and often does not actually name how any of the named Defendants were responsible for the alleged violations. To the extent that the Court is able to determine the nature of some of the claims, they will be addressed below.

         C. 42 ...


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