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Johnson v. Clark County School District

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 8, 2015

SHERRIE JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

ORDER

CAM FERENBACH, Magistrate Judge.

This matter involves Sherrie Johnson's employment-discrimination action against Clark County School District. Before the court is Johnson's application to proceed in forma pauperis (#1[1]) and complaint (#1-1). For the reasons stated below, Johnson's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted and she is directed to file an amended complaint by January 23, 2015.

IN FORMA PAUPERIS APPLICATION

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), a filing fee is required to commence a civil action in federal court. The court may authorize the commencement of an action without prepayment of fees and costs or security therefor, by a person who submits an affidavit that includes a statement showing the person is unable to pay such costs. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The standard governing in forma pauperis eligibility under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) is "unable to pay such fees or give security therefor." Determination of what constitutes "unable to pay" or unable to "give security therefor" and, therefore whether to allow a plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis, is left to the discretion of the presiding judge, based on the information submitted by the plaintiff or plaintiffs. See, e.g., Fridman v. City of New York, 195 F.Supp.2d 534, 536 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 52 Fed.Appx. 157 (2nd Cir. 2002). Here, Plaintiff asserts in her application to proceed in forma pauperis that she is unemployed, has no money in a bank account, and that her liabilities exceed her assets and income, which is $216.00 per month. Accordingly, Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted.

LEGAL STANDARD

After a court grants a plaintiff in-forma-pauperis status, it must review the operative complaint to determine whether it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a plausible claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). This review is guided by two legal standards: Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and the Supreme Court's decision in Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) provides that a complaint "that states a claim for relief must contain... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) states that in order to satisfy Rule 8's requirements a complaint's allegations must cross "the line from conceivable to plausible." 556 U.S. at 680. The Court's decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) and Iqbal prescribe a two-step procedure for determining whether a complaint's allegations cross that line.

First, the court must identify "the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 680. Factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth if they are "merely consistent with liability, " id. at 678, or "amount to nothing more than a formulaic recitation of the elements' of a constitutional" claim. Id. at 681.

Second, the court must determine whether the complaint states a "plausible" claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is "plausible" if the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678. This inquiry is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679 (citation omitted).

If the factual allegation, which are accepted as true, "do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not "show[n]"-"that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2)).

However, where a pro se litigant is involved, courts are directed to hold the litigant to "less stringent standards." See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 10 n. 7 (1980). "Such litigants often lack the resources and freedom necessary to comply with the technical rules of modern litigation." Mala v. Crown Bay Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 244-45 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Moore v. Florida, 703 F.2d 516, 520 (11th Cir. 1983)).

If the court dismisses a complaint under section 1915(e), the plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with directions as to curing its deficiencies, unless it is clear from the face of the complaint that the deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).

DISCUSSION

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. While Congress has authorized individuals and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to bring suits to enforce these statutes when certain conditions are met, "[c]ooperation and voluntary compliance were selected as the ...


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