Donahue v. Saul

Filing 4

ORDER: (1) DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS; and (2) GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND. The Court DENIES the IFP motion without prejudice and DISMISSES the Complaint pursuant to 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Plaintiff is GRANTED LEAVE TO AMEND the Complaint and file a new IFP motion by November 1, 2019. Signed by Magistrate Judge Allison H. Goddard on 10/10/2019. (mme) (jao).

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 PARKER D., Case No.: 3:19-cv-01818-AHG Plaintiff, 12 13 v. 14 ORDER: ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, 15 16 (1) DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS; and Defendant. (2) GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND 17 [ECF NO. 2] 18 19 Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter on September 20, 2019, seeking judicial 20 review of the Commissioner of Social Security’s final decision denying his application for 21 disability insurance benefits. ECF No. 1. Along with the Complaint, Plaintiff filed a Motion 22 for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. ECF No. 2. 23 A motion to proceed IFP presents two issues for the Court’s consideration. First, the 24 Court must determine whether the applicant has properly shown an inability to pay the 25 $400 filing fee under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 26 (9th Cir. 1999). To that end, each applicant seeking to proceed IFP must provide the Court 27 a signed affidavit including a statement of all the applicant’s assets. CivLR 3.2(a). Second, 28 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the Court must evaluate whether the Complaint 1 3:19-cv-01818-AHG 1 sufficiently states a claim upon which relief may be granted before the Complaint is served. 2 See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (“1915(e) not only permits but 3 requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a 4 claim.”). 5 Plaintiff’s sworn statement of his assets shows that he receives only $196 per month 6 in general public assistance, owns no assets and receives no other income, and that his 7 average monthly expenses exceed his income. ECF No. 2. The Court finds Plaintiff has 8 thus shown an inability to pay the filing fee under § 1915(a). 9 However, Plaintiff does not sufficiently state a claim for relief. Section 10 1915(e)(2)(B) requires the Court to screen complaints filed by IFP applicants and to 11 dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines the complaint fails to state a claim on 12 which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Although the language of the 13 statute 14 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners.” Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 15 845 (9th Cir. 2001). Therefore, plaintiffs seeking to appeal a decision by the Commissioner 16 of Social Security are not exempt from the standard Rule 8 pleading requirements. See 17 Hoagland v. Astrue, No. 1:12-CV-00973-SMS, 2012 WL 2521753, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 18 28, 2012) (“Screening is required even if the plaintiff pursues an appeal of right, such as 19 an appeal of the Commissioner’s denial of social security disability benefits.”). refers to IFP actions brought by prisoners, “the provisions of 20 The Complaint states the following grounds for reversal or remand: (1) that the 21 Commissioner denied Plaintiff’s application “despite medical evidence supplied to the 22 Social Security Administration [and] testimony given at the hearing” showing “Plaintiff’s 23 inability to engage in substantial gainful employment,” (2) that the Administrative Law 24 Judge’s decision “was erroneous and unfounded” and “not supported by substantial 25 evidence,” and (3) that the decision “is contrary to law[.]” ECF No. 1 at 3-4. These 26 allegations amount to precisely the kind of boilerplate, conclusory statements that do not 27 meet the federal pleading standard. Plaintiff does not explain what medical evidence or 28 testimony conflicts with the Commissioner’s decision or otherwise explain why the 2 3:19-cv-01818-AHG 1 decision is contrary to law or unsupported by substantial evidence. “[T]he pleading 2 standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, but it demands 3 more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that 4 offers labels and conclusions . . . will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 5 naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 6 678 (2009) (internal citations and quotations omitted). 7 While the Complaint vaguely states standard grounds on which Social Security 8 benefits decisions are reversed or remanded, these grounds are “devoid of further factual 9 enhancement” that might lend even minimal insight into the factual bases of Plaintiff’s 10 appeal. Id. “Every plaintiff appealing an adverse decision of the Commissioner believes 11 that the Commissioner was wrong. The purpose of the complaint is to briefly and plainly 12 allege facts supporting the legal conclusion that the Commissioner’s decision was wrong.” 13 Hoagland, 2012 WL 2521753, at *3. Plaintiff’s Complaint does not meet that standard. 14 Accordingly, the Court DENIES the IFP motion without prejudice and DISMISSES 15 the Complaint pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Plaintiff is GRANTED LEAVE TO 16 AMEND the Complaint and file a new IFP motion by November 1, 2019. 17 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 10, 2019 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 3:19-cv-01818-AHG

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