Ransom v. Sacramento Veteran Resource Center et al

Filing 3

ORDER signed by District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. on 7/13/2017 GRANTING 2 Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis; the Complaint is DISMISSED because it fails to allege facts supporting federal jurisdiction; Plaintiff shall have 30 days from the date of this order to file an amended complaint that names defendants who are amenable to suit, and which complies with the instructions given.(Reader, L)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 CLINTON RANSOM, 12 13 14 15 16 No. 2:17-cv-01443 MCE AC (PS) Plaintiff, v. ORDER SACRAMENTO VETERAN RESOURCE CENTER, et al., Defendants. 17 18 Plaintiff is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was accordingly referred to the 19 undersigned by E.D. Cal. 302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to proceed in forma 20 pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and has submitted the affidavit required by that 21 statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The motion to proceed IFP will therefore be granted. 22 I. SCREENING 23 Granting IFP status does not end the court’s inquiry. The federal IFP statute requires 24 federal courts to dismiss a case if the action is legally “frivolous or malicious,” fails to state a 25 claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is 26 immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). 27 28 Plaintiff must assist the court in determining whether the complaint is frivolous or not, by drafting the complaint so that it complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. 1 1 P.”). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are available online at www.uscourts.gov/rules- 2 policies/current-rules-practice-procedure/federal-rules-civil-procedure. Under the Federal Rules 3 of Civil Procedure, the complaint must contain (1) a “short and plain statement” of the basis for 4 federal jurisdiction (that is, the reason the case is filed in this court, rather than in a state court), 5 (2) a short and plain statement showing that plaintiff is entitled to relief (that is, who harmed the 6 plaintiff, and in what way), and (3) a demand for the relief sought. Fed. R. Civ. P. (“Rule”) 8(a). 7 Plaintiff’s claims must be set forth simply, concisely and directly. Rule 8(d)(1). Forms are 8 available to help pro se plaintiffs organize their complaint in the proper way. They are available 9 at the Clerk’s Office, 501 I Street, 4th Floor (Rm. 4-200), Sacramento, CA 95814, or online at 10 www.uscourts.gov/forms/pro-se-forms. 11 A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. 12 Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, the 13 court will (1) accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they 14 are clearly baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the 15 plaintiff, and (3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff’s favor. See Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; 16 Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at 17 Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 564 U.S. 1037 (2011); Hebbe v. Pliler, 18 627 F.3d 338, 340 (9th Cir. 2010). However, the court need not accept as true, legal conclusions 19 cast in the form of factual allegations, or allegations that contradict matters properly subject to 20 judicial notice. See Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981); 21 Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.), as amended, 275 F.3d 1187 22 (2001). 23 Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. 24 Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Pro se complaints are construed liberally and may 25 only be dismissed if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support 26 of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 908 (9th 27 Cir. 2014). A pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and an 28 opportunity to amend, unless the complaint’s deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See 2 1 Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987). 2 A. The Complaint 3 The allegations of the complaint are taken as true only for purposes of this screening. 4 Plaintiff alleges that defendants prevented him from taking grant money to which he was entitled. 5 ECF No. 1 at 4-5. Plaintiff alleges that employees at the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center 6 prevented him from receiving furniture to which he was entitled, and failed to pay his storage fees 7 as they were supposed to do. Id. Under “Basis for Jurisdiction,” plaintiff checked the box 8 labeled “Federal question.” Id. at 3. Where asked to identify the specific federal statutes, federal 9 treaties, and/or provisions of the United States Constitution at issue, plaintiff wrote: “failed to 10 allow me to use $1000.00 grant money deposit for the year 2015 from 6-1-2015 to Sept. 30 2015 11 denied me grant money assistance for SMUD that I qualified for.” Id. at 4. 12 B. Analysis 13 This court lacks jurisdiction over this lawsuit, and accordingly it must be dismissed. To 14 bring a case in federal court, a party must either bring a claim under federal law, or demonstrate 15 that the parties are from different states and that over $75,000 is in controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 16 1331, § 1332. Although plaintiff checks the “federal question” box on the complaint form, no 17 federal law claims are alleged or otherwise appear from the facts as stated. For this reason, it 18 does not appear that this federal court can hear this case. 19 20 II. AMENDING THE COMPLAINT If plaintiff chooses to amend his complaint, the amended complaint must allege facts 21 establishing the existence of federal jurisdiction. In addition, it must contain a short and plain 22 statement of plaintiff’s claims. The allegations of the complaint must be set forth in sequentially 23 numbered paragraphs, with each paragraph number being one greater than the one before, each 24 paragraph having its own number, and no paragraph number being repeated anywhere in the 25 complaint. Each paragraph should be limited “to a single set of circumstances” where 26 possible. Rule 10(b). As noted above, forms are available to help plaintiffs organize their 27 complaint in the proper way. They are available at the Clerk’s Office, 501 I Street, 4th Floor 28 (Rm. 4-200), Sacramento, CA 95814, or online at www.uscourts.gov/forms/pro-se-forms. 3 1 Plaintiff must avoid excessive repetition of the same allegations. Plaintiff must avoid 2 narrative and storytelling. That is, the complaint should not include every detail of what 3 happened, nor recount the details of conversations (unless necessary to establish the claim), nor 4 give a running account of plaintiff’s hopes and thoughts. Rather, the amended complaint should 5 contain only those facts needed to show how the defendant legally wronged the plaintiff. 6 The amended complaint must not force the court and the defendants to guess at what is 7 being alleged against whom. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) 8 (affirming dismissal of a complaint where the district court was “literally guessing as to what 9 facts support the legal claims being asserted against certain defendants”). The amended 10 complaint must not require the court to spend its time “preparing the ‘short and plain statement’ 11 which Rule 8 obligated plaintiffs to submit.” Id. at 1180. The amended complaint must not 12 require the court and defendants to prepare lengthy outlines “to determine who is being sued for 13 what.” Id. at 1179. 14 Also, the amended complaint must not refer to a prior pleading in order to make plaintiff’s 15 amended complaint complete. An amended complaint must be complete in itself without 16 reference to any prior pleading. Local Rule 220. This is because, as a general rule, an amended 17 complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Pacific Bell Tel. Co. v. Linkline 18 Communications, Inc., 555 U.S. 438, 456 n.4 (2009) (“[n]ormally, an amended complaint 19 supersedes the original complaint”) (citing 6 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & 20 Procedure § 1476, pp. 556-57 (2d ed. 1990)). Therefore, in an amended complaint, as in an 21 original complaint, each claim and the involvement of each defendant must be sufficiently 22 alleged. 23 III. CONCLUSION 24 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 25 1. Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is GRANTED. 26 2. The complaint (ECF No. 1) is DISMISSED because it fails to allege facts supporting 27 28 federal jurisdiction. //// 4 1 3. Plaintiff shall have 30 days from the date of this order to file an amended complaint that 2 names defendants who are amenable to suit, and which complies with the instructions 3 given above. If plaintiff fails to timely comply with this order, the undersigned may 4 recommend that this action be dismissed. 5 DATED: July 13, 2017 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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