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Ruben v. City of Las Vegas

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 10, 2017

TERENCE E. RUBEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF LAS VEGAS, TEXAS CITY, Defendants.

          ORDER APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (ECF NO. 1) AND COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 1-1)

          CAM FERENBACH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This is a civil rights violation case brought by Plaintiff Terence E. Ruben against Las Vegas and Texas City. Before the Court are Ruben's application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1) and Complaint (ECF No. 1-1). Ruben's in forma pauperis application is granted. For the reasons stated below, however, Ruben's Complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.

         I. Discussion

         Ruben's filings present two questions: (1) whether Ruben may proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), and (2) whether Ruben's Complaint states a plausible claim for relief.

         A. In Forma Pauperis

         Ruben's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) permits a plaintiff to bring a civil action “without prepayment of fees or security thereof” if the plaintiff submits a financial affidavit that demonstrates the plaintiff's “is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” Under § 1915(a)(1), Ruben submitted a financial affidavit. ECF No. 1. According to the affidavit, Ruben is disabled and unemployed. Id. at 6. Monthly disability checks for $408 are his only source of income. Id. at 1-2. Ruben has no savings. Id. at 3. The income Ruben does collect for his disability goes to basic living expenses, including supporting his 16-year old daughter. Id. at 4-5. Ruben's application to proceed in forma pauperis is, therefore, granted.

         B. Screening the Complaint

         a. Legal Standard

         Because the Court grants Ruben's application to proceed in forma pauperis, it must review the Complaint to determine whether the Complaint is “frivolous or malicious, ” fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court's review of Ruben's Complaint is guided by two legal standards: (1) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and (2) the Supreme Court's decision in Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) also 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, 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. 662, 680 (2009). The Court's decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) and Iqbal prescribe a two-step procedure to determine 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)).

         “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). But a complaint is clearly baseless if the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or wholly incredible, or if the complaint describes a fanciful, fantastic, or delusional scenario. See Ancar v. Sara Plasma, Inc., 964 F.2d 465 (5th Cir. 1992); see also Nw. Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Baltes, 15 F.3d 660, 662 (7th Cir.1994) (“It is not the Court's job to laboriously search the Complaint for factual assertions that could, in theory, be used to support one legal claim or another. District judges are not archaeologists. They need not excavate masses of papers in search of revealing tidbits”); Jennings v. Entry, 910 F.2d 1434, 1436 (7th Cir. 1990) (“[A] complaint must be presented ‘with clarity sufficient to avoid requiring a district court or opposing party to forever sift through its pages in search of plaintiff's claim”); Sparling v. Hoffman Constr. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 640 (9th Cir. 1988) (“If the factual elements of a cause of action are scattered throughout the complaint but are not organized into a “short and plain statement of the claim, ” dismissal for failure to satisfy Rule 8(a) is proper”).

         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 ...


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