Torres v. Colvin

Filing 3

ORDER Granting 2 Motion To Proceed In Forma Pauperis And Dismissing Without Prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint. It is ordered that plaintiff may file an amended complaint within forty-five days of the date on which this order is electronicall y docketed. Should plaintiff fail to file an amended complaint within the time provided, the Court will enter a final order dismissing this civil action with prejudice. Signed by Judge Janis L. Sammartino on 3/20/2017. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(dxj)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MELISSA TORRES, Case No.: 16cv2791-JLS (BLM) Plaintiff, 12 13 14 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISSING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT v. CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, 15 Defendant. 16 (ECF No. 2) 17 18 Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Melissa Torres’s Motion to Proceed In Forma 19 Pauperis (“IFP Mot.”). (ECF No. 2.) Plaintiff has filed an action requesting that this Court 20 review and reverse the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) denial of benefits. 21 (Compl. 1, ECF No. 1.) 22 IFP MOTION 23 All parties instituting any civil action, suit, or proceeding in a district court of the 24 United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of 25 $400. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a plaintiff’s failure to prepay 26 the entire fee only if he is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 27 § 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999). A federal court 28 may authorize the commencement of an action without the prepayment of fees if the party 1 16cv2791-JLS (BLM) 1 submits an affidavit, including a statement of assets, showing that she is unable to pay the 2 required filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). 3 In the present case, Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit indicating that her sole source 4 of income is from disability payments in the amount of $800 a month. (IFP Mot. 2.) 5 Plaintiff is not employed, nor has she been for the past two years, and Plaintiff has no cash 6 or other assets. (Id. at 2–3.) Plaintiff estimates her monthly expenses to be $358, and notes 7 that her monthly income from disability payments is “about to stop . . . .” (Id. at 5.) Given 8 the foregoing, the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s application demonstrates she is unable 9 to pay the requisite fees and costs. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to 10 Proceed IFP. 11 Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) & 1915A(b) 12 The Court must screen every civil action brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) 13 and dismiss any case it finds “frivolous or malicious,” “fails to state a claim on which relief 14 may be granted,” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from relief.” 15 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see also Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) 16 (“[T]he provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners.”); Lopez v. 17 Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126–27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (noting that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) 18 “not only permits but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint 19 that fails to state a claim”). 20 As amended by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) 21 mandates that the court reviewing an action filed pursuant to the IFP provisions of § 1915 22 make and rule on its own motion to dismiss before directing the Marshal to effect service 23 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(c)(3). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3); Navarette 24 v. Pioneer Med. Ctr., No. 12-cv-0629-WQH (DHB), 2013 WL 139925, at *1 (S.D. Cal. 25 Jan. 9, 2013). 26 All complaints must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that 27 the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not 28 required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 2 16cv2791-JLS (BLM) 1 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing 2 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007)). “[D]etermining whether a complaint 3 states a plausible claim is context-specific, requiring the reviewing court to draw on its 4 experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663–64 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 5 556). 6 “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their 7 veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement of relief.” 8 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. “[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court 9 must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light 10 most favorable to the plaintiff.” Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000); see 11 also Andrews v. King, 393 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005); Barren v. Harrington, 152 12 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (“The language of § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) parallels the 13 language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).”). 14 “While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not.” Hoagland 15 v. Astrue, No. 1:12-cv-00973-SMS, 2012 WL 2521753, at *3 (E.D. Cal. June 28, 2012) 16 (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Courts cannot accept legal conclusions set forth in a 17 complaint if the plaintiff has not supported her contentions with facts. Id. (citing Iqbal, 556 18 U.S. at 679). 19 In social security appeals, a complaint challenging the denial of benefits “must 20 provide a statement identifying the basis of the plaintiff’s disagreement with the Social 21 Security Administration’s determination and must make a showing that the plaintiff is 22 entitled to relief.” Montoya v. Colvin, No. 2:16-cv-00454-RFB-NJK, 2016 WL 890922, at 23 *2 (D. Nev. Mar. 8, 2016) (collecting cases) (finding that the plaintiff failed to state a claim 24 for relief where the complaint merely alleged that the Commissioner’s decision to deny 25 benefits was wrong without explaining why, and instead simply recited the general 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 3 16cv2791-JLS (BLM) 1 standards governing review of that decision).1 “The purpose of the complaint is to briefly 2 and plainly allege facts supporting the legal conclusion that the Commissioner’s decision 3 was wrong.” Hoagland, 2012 WL 2521753, at *3 (citing Brown v. Astrue, No. 11-cv-056- 4 JL, 2011 WL 3664429, at *3 (D.N.H. Aug. 19, 2011)). 5 In the present case, Plaintiff appeals the Commissioner’s decision denying Plaintiff’s 6 claim for disability benefits. (Compl. at 1.) However, Plaintiff states only the following 7 regarding her claim: 8 I request review of my claim for Social Security disability benefits. The administrative law judge issued a decision dated July 1, 2015 denying my claim. The Social Security Administration Appeals Council denied my request for review of the administrative law judge’s decision by notice dated September 7, 2016. My social security number is . . . . 9 10 11 12 13 (Compl. at 1.) As set forth above, this statement insufficient to survive the sua sponte 14 screening required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES 15 WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff’s complaint. 16 /// 17 /// 18 /// 19 /// 20 /// 21 /// 22 /// 23 /// 24 25 26 27 28 1 The Montoya court listed the requirements for social security appeal complaints: (1) Plaintiff must establish that he has exhausted his administrative remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and that the civil action commenced within 60 days after notice of final decision; (2) the complaint must list the judicial district in which the Plaintiff resides; (3) the complaint must state how Plaintiff is disabled and when Plaintiff became disabled; and (4) the complaint must contain a short and plain statement that identifies why the Plaintiff disagrees with the Commissioner’s determination and show that the Plaintiff is entitled to relief. 2016 WL 890922, at *2. 4 16cv2791-JLS (BLM) 1 CONCLUSION 2 For the reasons stated above, the Court: 3 1. GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed IFP pursuant to § 1915(a), (ECF No. 2), 4 and; 5 2. DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff’s Complaint. Plaintiff MAY 6 FILE an amended complaint within forty-five days of the date on which this Order is 7 electronically docketed. Should Plaintiff fail to file an amended complaint within the time 8 provided, the Court will enter a final order dismissing this civil action with prejudice. 9 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 20, 2017 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 16cv2791-JLS (BLM)

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