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Carpenter v. Trump

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

August 27, 2018

CRYSTAL CARPENTER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PRESIDENT DONALD JAMES TRUMP, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         On August 20, 2018, Plaintiff Crystal Carpenter, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against numerous government employees, private individuals and entities alleging violations of her civil rights. Dkt. No. 1. Carpenter also filed an Application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Application”).[1] Dkt. No. 3. The Court GRANTS the IFP Application. The Complaint, however, is difficult to decipher and fails to include factual allegations demonstrating either that Carpenter or her children's rights have been violated or that she is plausibly entitled to relief from any Defendant. Because Carpenter fails to state a cognizable claim for relief or to establish this Court's subject matter jurisdiction, the Complaint is DISMISSED with limited leave to amend pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), with instructions below.

         DISCUSSION

         Because Carpenter is appearing pro se, the Court liberally construes her 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 she is “unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

         Here, the IFP Application indicates that although Carpenter is self-employed, she has “no clients as of yet, ” nor other funds available, such as in cash or in a checking or savings account. Her only source of income listed is $1, 027.00 per month in Social Security disability benefits. Based upon the IFP Application, Carpenter'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, available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/18/2018-00814/annual-update -of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines. Accordingly, the Court finds that Carpenter has made the required showing under Section 1915 to proceed without prepayment of fees and GRANTS her IFP Application.

         II. The Complaint Is Dismissed

         Upon review of the Complaint and attachments, the Court finds that Carpenter fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or to establish a basis for the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. As discussed below, even liberally construed, the Complaint 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 VeteransAffairs, 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, 1216 ...


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