Williams v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO CURE DEFICIENCIES AND FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT by Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher on 10/6/15. (dkals, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 15-cv-02193-GPG
(The above civil action number must appear on all future papers
sent to the court in this action. Failure to include this number
may result in a delay in the consideration of your claims.)
PANON S. WILLIAMS,
ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO CURE DEFICIENCIES AND FILE AMENDED
Plaintiff, Panon W. Williams, has filed po se a Complaint against Social Security.
(ECF No. 1), and has submitted an Application to Proceed in District Court without
Prepaying Fees or Costs. (ECF No. 2). The court must construe the flings liberally
because Ms. Williams is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10 th Cir. 1991).
However, the court should not be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d
As part of the Court’s review pursuant to D.C.COLO.LCivR 8.1(a), the Court has
determined that the documents are deficient as described in this order. Plaintiff will be
directed to cure the following if she wishes to pursue her claims. Any papers that
Plaintiff files in response to this order must include the civil action number noted above
in the caption of this order.
Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs:
is not submitted
is not on proper form (must use the Federal Court’s current form)
is missing original signature by Plaintiff
is missing affidavit
affidavit is incomplete
affidavit in support of application is not signed and dated under
declaration of perjury
names in caption do not match names in caption of complaint, petition or
Complaint or Petition:
is not dated
is not on proper form (must use the court’s current form)
is missing an original signature by the Plaintiff
is incomplete (please complete all sections, including parties, jurisdiction,
background, claims for relief, and request for relief)
uses et al. instead of listing all parties in caption
names in caption do not match names in text of Complaint
addresses must be provided for all defendants/respondents in “Section A.
Parties” of complaint, petition or habeas application
Furthermore, the court finds that Plaintiff’s Complaint is deficient because it does
not comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The twin purposes of a complaint are to give the opposing parties fair
notice of the basis for the claims against them so that they may respond and to allow
the court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that the plaintiff is entitled to
relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass’n
of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10 th Cir. 1989). The requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8
are designed to meet these purposes. See TV Communications Network, Inc. v. ESPN,
Inc., 767 F. Supp. 1062, 1069 (D. Colo. 1991), aff’d, 964 F.2d 1022 (10 th Cir. 1992).
Specifically, Rule 8(a) provides that a complaint “must contain (1) a short and plain
statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, . . . (2) a short and plain statem ent
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief
sought.” The philosophy of Rule 8(a) is reinforced by Rule 8(d)(1), which provides that
“[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Taken together, Rules 8(a) and
(d)(1) underscore the emphasis placed on clarity and brevity by the federal pleading
rules. Prolix, vague, or unintelligible pleadings violate the requirements of Rule 8.
Ms. Williams fails to provide a short and plain statement of the grounds for the
court’s jurisdiction. In other words, Ms. Williams fails to identify the statutory authority
that allows the court to consider the claims she is asserting in this action.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They
possess only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree. It is
to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited
jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests
upon the party asserting jurisdiction.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citations
omitted). In the attachments to the Complaint, Ms. Williams indicates that she is
disabled and may be seeking judicial review of a decision denying her claim for social
security disability benefits. If so, the court may have jurisdiction to consider her claim or
claims pursuant to the Social Security Act. However, Congress has explicitly provided
that in claims arising under the Social Security Act, judicial review is permitted only in
accordance with section 405(g), which requires a “final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security made after a hearing.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), (h). In order to obtain a
judicially reviewable final decision, the claimant must complete a four-step
administrative review process. 20 CFR § 416.1400(a).
Assuming Ms. Williams is seeking judicial review of a decision denying her claim
for social security disability benefits, the proper Defendant is the Commissioner of
Social Security, in her official capacity, not Social Security or the Social Security
Administration. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(d).
Ms. Williams’ Complaint also fails to provide a short and plain statement of her
claims showing she is entitled to relief. She fails to allege in the Complaint when the
Commissioner denied her claim for social security disability benefits and the reason her
administrative claim was denied. Ms. Williams also fails to identify the specific
provision within the Social Security Act that authorizes her claim.
For these reasons, Ms. Williams will be ordered to file an amended complaint if
she wishes to pursue her claims in this action. In order to state a claim in federal court
Ms. Williams “must explain what each defendant did to him or her; when the defendant
did it; how the defendant’s action harmed him or her; and, what specific legal right the
plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents,
492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10 th Cir. 2007). The general rule that pro se pleadings must be
construed liberally has limits and “the court cannot take on the responsibility of serving
as the litigant’s attorney in constructing arguments and searching the record.” Garrett
v. Selby Connor Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10 th Cir. 2005). In order to satisfy
the requirements of Rule 8, it may be helpful for Ms. Williams to attach to her amended
complaint a copy of the Commissioner’s decision denying her claim for social security
disability benefits in addition to alleging the specific facts in the Complaint that support
her claim as discussed above.
If Ms. Williams fails within the time allowed to file an amended complaint that
complies with this order and the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the instant action will be dismissed without prejudice. However, Ms.
Williams is warned that, even if the action is dismissed without prejudice, the dismissal
may act as a dismissal with prejudice if the time for filing an action seeking review of the
denial of social security benefits expires. See Rodriguez v. Colorado, 521 F. App’x 670,
671-72 (10th Cir. 2013). Pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, a civil
action must be commenced “within sixty days after the mailing to [her] of notice of [any
final decision of the Commission of Social Security] or within such further time as the
Commissioner of Social Security may allow.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Ms. Williams file, within thirty (30) days from the date of this
order, an amended complaint that cures the designated deficiencies and complies with
the pleading requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 as discussed in this order. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Ms. Williams file, within thirty (30) days from the
date of this order, a signed and dated Application to Proceed in District Court W ithout
Prepayment of Fees and Costs. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that Ms. Williams shall obtain the appropriate courtapproved forms, along with the applicable instructions, at www.cod.uscourts.gov. It is
FURTHER ORDERED that, if Ms. Williams fails within the time allowed to cure
the designated deficiencies and to file an amended complaint that complies with this
order as directed, the action will be dismissed without further notice.
DATED October 6, 2015, at Denver, Colorado.
BY THE COURT:
S/ Gordon P. Gallagher
United States Magistrate Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?