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Chun v. Hawaii State Family Court Rules

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 13, 2018

CURTIS P. CHUN, Plaintiff,
v.
HAWAII STATE FAMILY COURT RULES UNDER THE HONORABLE JUDGE STEVEN M. NAKASHIMA, Defendant.

          ORDER (1) DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND; AND (2) GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FEES OR COSTS

          DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         On June 6, 2018, Plaintiff Curtis P. Chun, proceeding pro se, filed a First Amended Complaint alleging violations of his federal civil rights (Dkt. No 9), together with an application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Application, ” Dkt. No. 7), attempting to cure the deficiencies in his prior submissions that are described in the Court's May 17, 2018 Order.[1] Dkt. No. 5 (5/17/18 Order). The Court GRANTS the IFP Application. The First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), however, like its predecessor, challenges previous and ongoing proceedings involving Chun and his family members in state court, and once more fails to allege facts demonstrating that Chun's rights have been violated or that he is plausibly entitled to relief from any defendant. Accordingly, the FAC is DISMISSED with limited leave to amend pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), with instructions below.[2]

         DISCUSSION

         Because Chun is appearing pro se, the Court liberally construes his filings. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (“The Supreme Court has instructed the federal courts to liberally construe the ‘inartful pleading' of pro se litigants.”) (citing Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam)). The Court recognizes that “[u]nless it is absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defect . . . a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the action.” Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995); see also Crowley v. Bannister, 734 F.3d 967, 977-78 (9th Cir. 2013).

         I. Plaintiff's IFP Application Is Granted

         Federal courts can authorize the commencement of any suit without prepayment of fees or security by a person who submits an affidavit that demonstrates an inability to pay. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). “An affidavit in support of an IFP application is sufficient where it alleges that the affiant cannot pay the court costs and still afford the necessities of life.” Escobedo v. Applebees, 787 F.3d 1226, 1234 (9th Cir. 2015) (citing Adkins v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948)); see also United States v. McQuade, 647 F.2d 938, 940 (9th Cir. 1981) (The affidavit must “state the facts as to affiant's poverty with some particularity, definiteness and certainty.”) (internal quotation omitted).

         When reviewing an application filed pursuant to § 1915(a), “[t]he only determination to be made by the court . . . is whether the statements in the affidavit satisfy the requirement of poverty.” Martinez v. Kristi Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305, 1307 (11th Cir. 2004). While Section 1915(a) does not require a litigant to demonstrate absolute destitution, Adkins, 335 U.S. at 339, the applicant must nonetheless show that he is “unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

         Chun's IFP Application indicates that he is unemployed and does not earn any wages. Because he is currently homeless, Chun states that he occasionally receives “cash in varying in amounts” from his father (e.g., “8, 157, 37, 64, etc.”), but those amounts have been recently reduced. IFP Application at 1, Dkt. No. 7. Chun also has $100 or less in cash or in a checking or savings account and avers that he owes over “ten thousand” in debts, including monies that he borrowed to pay for an attorney. Id. at 2. Based upon the IFP Application, Chun's income falls below the poverty threshold identified by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) 2018 Poverty Guidelines. See Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/18/2018- 00814/annual-update-of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines. Accordingly, the Court finds that Chun has made the required showing under Section 1915 to proceed without prepayment of fees, and GRANTS his IFP Application.

         II. The FAC Is Dismissed With Leave to Amend

         Upon review of the FAC, the Court finds that Chun again fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. As discussed below, even liberally construed, the FAC fails to allege any discernable basis for judicial relief against any party.

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court subjects each civil action commenced pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) to mandatory screening and can order the dismissal of any claims it finds “frivolous, malicious, failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeking monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Dismissal is proper when there is either a “‘lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged.'” UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners, LLC, 718 F.3d 1006, 1014 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990)). A plaintiff must allege “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Weber v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 521 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2008). This tenet-that the court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in the complaint-“is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Accordingly, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); see also Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, ...


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