Taft et al v. Thomas et al
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER granting 1 PRO SE MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by David Lynn Taft, Jr; granting 2 PRO SE MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Ryan Paul Peterson, and granting 3 PRO SE MOTION for Lea ve to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Eddie Risdal. The Clerk of Court shall file Plaintiffs' Complaint forthwith. No filing fee will be assessed. Plaintiffs' Complaints are dismissed without prejudice to refiling. Plaintiffs' 4 PRO SE MOTION to Appoint Counsel is denied. Signed by Senior Judge Donald E O'Brien on 5/17/12. (Copy w/nef mailed to pro se plaintiffs) (djs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
DAVID LYNN TAFT, JR., RYAN
PAUL PETERSON, AND EDDIE
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER
TRACY THOMAS, JASON SMITH,
MIKE RYAN, BRAD WITTROCK,
BILL TURNER, STEVE TJADEN,
MATT ROYSTER, MIKE LOESCHER,
SEAN MORRIS, AND BOB STOUT.
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
This matter is currently before the Court on Plaintiffs’
Motions for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, Motions for
Appointment of Counsel, and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 Complaints.
Docket Nos. 1, 1-1, 2, 3, and 4. Plaintiffs are involuntarily
committed patients at the Civil Commitment Unit for Sex
CCUSO is not a prison facility; it “provides a secure,
long term, and highly structured environment for the treatment
of sexually violent predators.”
Iowa Department of Human
last visited May 16, 2012. The patients at CCUSO “have served
their prison terms but in a separate civil trial have been
found likely to commit further violent sexual offenses.” Id.
administrators and staff at CCUSO.
Plaintiffs are repeat
filers. Within their Complaints, Plaintiffs allege two causes
of action: (1) if they refuse to sign a Consent to Treatment
Contract, they will be denied treatment in violation of
federal law, and (2) copyright infringement.
Docket No. 1-1.
IN FORMA PAUPERIS
The filing fee for a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 petition is $350.
28 U.S.C. § 1914(a).
In forma pauperis status allows a
plaintiff to proceed without incurring filing fees or other
In order to qualify for in forma pauperis
status, a plaintiff must provide this Court an affidavit3 with
the following statements:
(1) statement of the nature of the
action, (2) statement that plaintiff is entitled to redress,
(3) statement of the assets plaintiff possesses, and (4)
statement that plaintiff is unable to pay filing fees
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a prisoner who
qualifies for in forma pauperis status must still pay the full
filing fee in increments. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). A prisoner is
defined as “any person incarcerated or detained in any
facility” for “violations of criminal law . . . .” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(h). CCUSO is not a prison facility and Plaintiff is
not a prisoner, thus, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b) does not apply.
An affidavit is a “voluntary declaration of facts
written down and sworn to by the declarant before an officer
authorized to administer oaths.” Black’s Law Dictionary (9th
ed. 2009), affidavit.
Plaintiffs’ applications substantially meet the
above requirements. Therefore, Plaintiffs’ Motions to Proceed
in Forma Pauperis (Docket Nos. 1, 2, and 3) are granted.
Clerk of Court shall file Plaintiffs’ Complaints forthwith.
No filing fee will be assessed.
THE MERITS OF PLAINTIFFS’ CLAIMS
Once any portion of a filing fee is waived, a court must
dismiss the case if a plaintiff’s allegations of poverty prove
untrue or the action in question turns out to be frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In relation
to failure to state a claim, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
If, on the
face of the complaint, it is clear that relief cannot be
granted, dismissal is appropriate.
Article III, Section II of the United States Constitution
Aetna Life Ins. Co. Of Hartford, Conn. v.
Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 240 (1937) (citation omitted).
order to qualify as a case or controversy, a plaintiff must
Horne v. Flores, 129 S. Ct. 2579, 2592 (2009)
(citing Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560
In order to have standing, a plaintiff “must have
suffered an ‘injury in fact . . . .’”
Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992) (citations omitted).
injury in fact is “an invasion of a legally protected interest
which is . . . concrete and particularized, and . . . ‘actual
or imminent,’” rather than “‘conjectural’ or ‘hypothetical.’”
In addition, “it must be ‘likely,’
as opposed to merely ‘speculative,’ that the injury will be
The Consent to Treatment Contract
Docket No. 1-1, 3 (emphasis added).
Plaintiff’s neither allege that they did, in fact, refuse to
Though not a factor in this case, standing also requires
“a causal connection between the injury and the conduct
complained of - the injury has to be ‘fairly . . . trace[able]
to the challenged action of the defendant, and not . . . th[e]
result [of] the independent action of some third party not
before the court.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S.
555, 560 (1992) (citations omitted).
sign the Consent to Treatment Contract, nor that they are
actually being deprived of treatment.
Complaints clearly imply they signed the Consent to Treatment
Contracts, they fail to allege a concrete, particularized,
actual, or imminent injury.
Furthermore, it is unclear how a
Treatment Contract cause of action is hereby dismissed without
prejudice to refiling.
“[C]opyright law generally limits standing to seek a
civil remedy for copyright infringement to the owner of the
copyright or to a person who holds an exclusive license . . .
U.S. v. Chalupnik, 514 F.3d 748, 753 (8th Cir. 2008).
this case, Plaintiffs neither allege that they are the owners
of any copyright at issue, nor that they have an exclusive
license to the copyrighted material.
In fact, they allege no
injury and actually admit they are given photo copied chapters
of books upon request, which is an actual benefit to them.
Therefore, Plaintiff’s copyright infringement cause of action
is hereby dismissed without prejudice.
It is apparent on the face of Plaintiffs’ Complaints that
they lack standing as to both of their causes of action.
Without standing, this Court, under the basic and central
principles of Separation of Powers between co-equal branches
and a Federal Government of enumerated powers, lacks the
authority to hear their Complaints.
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Appoint Counsel (Docket No. 4) is denied
IT IS SO ORDERED this 17th day of May, 2012.
Donald E. O’Brien, Senior Judge
United States District Court
Northern District of Iowa