Vader v. Saul

Filing 5

ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS; AND (2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Plaintiff shall have until November 7, 2019 to file an amended complaint that cures the deficiencies set forth above. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt on 10/8/2019. (mme)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 RICHARD V., Case No.: 19-cv-01660-JLB Plaintiff, 12 13 v. 14 ORDER: ANDREW SAUL, 15 (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS; AND Defendant. 16 (2) DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE 17 18 [ECF No. 2] 19 20 Plaintiff Richard V. has filed a complaint against the Commissioner of Social 21 Security, Andrew Saul, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner’s final decision 22 denying his applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental 23 Security Income. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 1.) The parties have consented to the disposition of this 24 case by Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (ECF No. 4.) 25 Presently before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma 26 Pauperis. (ECF No. 2.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s 27 motion and sua sponte DISMISSES without prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to 28 state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 1 19-cv-01660-JLB 1 I. MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS 2 All parties instituting a civil action, suit, or proceeding in a district court of the 3 United States, other than a petition for writ of habeas corpus, must pay the requisite filing 4 fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a party’s failure to pay the filing 5 fee, but only if the party is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 6 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). 7 Here, Plaintiff has not paid the $400.00 filing fee required to maintain an action in 8 this District and has instead moved to proceed IFP. (ECF No. 2.) In his affidavit of assets, 9 Plaintiff attests that he is homeless, unemployed, and that his only source of income is 10 $192.00 per month in food stamps. (Id. ¶¶ 2–3.) Plaintiff states that he has $10.00 in a 11 bank account. (Id. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff owns a 2007 automobile, which he values at $1,000.00. 12 (Id. ¶ 5.) Given the foregoing, the Court concludes that Plaintiff’s affidavit of assets 13 sufficiently shows that he lacks the requisite financial resources to pay the $400.000 filing 14 fee for this case. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion to proceed IFP (ECF 15 No. 2). 16 17 II. A. SCREENING OF COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) Legal Standards 18 Any complaint filed pursuant to the IFP provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) is subject 19 to a mandatory and sua sponte review and dismissal by the Court, if it finds that the 20 complaint is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, 21 or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 22 § 1915(e)(2)(B). “[S]ection 1915(e) not only permits but requires a district court to dismiss 23 an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 24 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (emphasis added). Complaints in social security appeal cases are not 25 exempt from § 1915(e)’s screening requirement. See Hoagland v. Astrue, No. 1:12–cv– 26 00973–SMS, 2012 WL 2521753, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 28, 2012) (“Screening is required 27 even if the plaintiff pursues an appeal of right, such as an appeal of the Commissioner’s 28 denial of social security disability benefits.”); see also Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 28 U.S.C. 2 19-cv-01660-JLB 1 (9th Cir. 2001) (“[T]he provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to 2 prisoners.”); Glick v. Townsend, 677 F. App’x 323, 324 (9th Cir. 2017) (same). 3 All complaints must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that 4 the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are 5 not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by 6 mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 7 Although a complaint in a social security appeal may differ in some ways from other civil 8 cases, it is “not exempt from the general rules of civil pleading.” Hoagland, 2012 WL 9 2521753, at *2. 10 With respect to social security appeals, several courts in the Ninth Circuit, including 11 courts in this District,1 have set forth the following basic requirements for complaints to 12 survive the Court’s § 1915(e) screening: 13 First, the plaintiff must establish that he has exhausted [his] administrative remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and that the civil action was commenced within sixty days after notice of a final decision. Second, the complaint must indicate the judicial district in which the plaintiff resides. Third, the complaint must state the nature of the plaintiff’s disability and when the plaintiff claims [he] became disabled. Fourth, the complaint must contain a plain, short, and concise statement identifying the nature of the plaintiff’s disagreement with the determination made by the Social Security Administration and show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Montoya v. Colvin, No. 2:16-cv-00454-RFB-NJK, 2016 WL 890922, at *2 (D. Nev. Mar. 21 8, 2016). As for the fourth requirement, “[e]very plaintiff appealing an adverse decision of the 22 23 Commissioner believes that the Commissioner was wrong.” Hoagland, 2012 WL 24 25 1 26 27 28 E.g., Smith v. Saul, No. 19-cv-1692-AGS, 2019 WL 4643703, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 24, 2019); Skyler v. Saul, No. 19cv1581-NLS, 2019 WL 4039650, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 27, 2019); Walker v. Saul, No. 19-cv-1068-AGS, 2019 WL 3220167, at *1 (S.D. Cal. July 17, 2019); Varao v. Berryhill, No. 17-cv-02463-LAB-JLB, 2018 WL 4373697, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 21, 2018), adopted by 2018 WL 4361077 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 4, 2018). 3 19-cv-01660-JLB 1 2521753, at *3. Thus, “a social security complaint that merely parrots the standards used 2 in reversing or remanding a case is not sufficient to withstand a screening pursuant to 3 [§] 1915(e).” Montoya, 2016 WL 890922, at *2. Instead, “[a] complaint appealing the 4 Commissioner’s denial of disability benefits must [include] a brief statement of facts 5 setting forth the reasons why the Commissioner’s decision was wrong.” Hoagland, 2012 6 WL 2521753, at *2. 7 B. Discussion 8 Applying these requirements to the present case, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s 9 complaint is insufficient with respect to requirements three and four. Regarding the third 10 requirement, Plaintiff’s complaint is silent as to the nature of his disability and the date on 11 which he allegedly became disabled. Plaintiff states only that he “is disabled.” (ECF No. 12 1 ¶ 6.) Thus, Plaintiff’s complaint fails as to the third requirement. See Smith, 2019 WL 13 4643703, at *1 (“Although surviving § 1915(e) is a ‘low threshold,’ plaintiff is still 14 required to plausibly allege that [he] is disabled by identifying [his] purported disability 15 and suggesting why [he] is entitled to relief.” (quoting Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 16 1123 (9th Cir. 2012))). 17 Regarding the fourth requirement, Plaintiff has failed to state any facts to support 18 the boilerplate grounds for his appeal. Plaintiff “merely parrots” the standard of judicial 19 review by alleging only that “[t]he conclusions and findings of fact of the defendant are 20 not supported by substantial evidence and are contrary to law and regulation.” (ECF No. 21 1 ¶ 7.) Plaintiff does not set forth the bases upon which the Commissioner denied his 22 applications and why the Commissioner’s decision was wrong. Plaintiff’s threadbare and 23 conclusory allegations are insufficient to show that Plaintiff is entitled to relief. Thus, 24 Plaintiff’s complaint fails as to the fourth requirement as well. See Harris v. Colvin, No. 25 14cv383-GW (RNB), 2014 WL 1095941, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 2014) (dismissing a 26 complaint because it did not “specify . . . the respects in which [the plaintiff] contend[ed] 27 that the ALJ’s findings [were] not supported by substantial evidence and/or that the proper 28 legal standards were not applied”). 4 19-cv-01660-JLB 1 Because Plaintiff has failed to set forth the nature of his disability, the onset of his 2 disability, and the reasons supporting his appeal, the Court is obligated to sua sponte 3 dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 4 III. CONCLUSION 5 For the reasons stated above, the Court hereby: 6 (1) GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion to proceed IFP (ECF No. 2); and 7 (2) sua sponte DISMISSES the complaint without prejudice and with leave to 8 amend for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff 9 shall have until November 7, 2019 to file an amended complaint that cures 10 the deficiencies set forth above. The Clerk of Court is directed to close this 11 case. 12 13 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 8, 2019 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 19-cv-01660-JLB

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