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Branch v. United States

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 15, 2018

CLARENCE A. BRANCH, 3RD, Plaintiffs,


          Cam Ferenbach United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court are pro se Plaintiff Clarence A. Branch, 3rd's application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1) and complaint (ECF No. 1-1). For the reasons stated below, Branch's in forma pauperis application is granted. The Court, however, orders that Branch's complaint be dismissed without prejudice.


         Branch's filings present two questions: (1) whether Branch may proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and (2) whether Branch's complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Each is discussed below.

         I. Whether Branch May Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Branch 's application to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), a plaintiff may bring a civil action “without prepayment of fees or security thereof” if the plaintiff submits a financial affidavit that demonstrates the plaintiff “is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” According to Branch's affidavit, he makes $125 per month and there are five dependents who rely on him for support. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis is, therefore, granted.

         II. Whether Branch's Complaint States a Plausible Claim

         Because the Court grants Branch's application to proceed in forma pauperis, it must review Branch's complaint to determine whether the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a plausible claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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.” The Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal states that to satisfy Rule 8's requirements, a complaint's allegations must cross “the line from conceivable to plausible.” 556 U.S. 662, 680 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547, (2007)).

         “[A] pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). If the Court dismisses a complaint under § 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. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

         Branch's complaint is difficult to follow. It is styled as a third-party complaint, though Branch does not claim to be a third-party plaintiff. (ECF No. 1-1 at 1). This makes it impossible to determine what role the parties play in this case. Based on the party descriptions in the complaint, it appears that Branch and all defendants reside in Washington, D.C., which makes it doubtful that this Court would have personal jurisdiction over the defendants or could be considered a proper venue. See Morrill v. Scott Fin. Corp., 873 F.3d 1136, 1141-42 (9th Cir. 2017); 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). In addition, the complaint does not contain a short and plain statement showing that Branch is entitled to relief. Asked to “[d]escribe the events that gave rise to the plaintiff's complaint, the nature of the claims asserted, and the relief sought, ” Branch gives the following list: “simple assault 7/22/12, competency examination 05/29/2014, release order 7/1/2013, St. Elizabeth's, nolle prosequi 09/09/2014, mandate true and certified copy 05/04/2015, mandate “Clayton Act” 06/09/2016, mandate 04/25/2017.” (Id. at 4). Branch also states the relief sought is “tolling case.” (Id.). However, Branch's civil cover sheet states this is an antitrust case with a brief description merely stating “Big Tucker.” (ECF No. 1-2). Attached to the complaint are documents from several other court cases, but Branch does not explain how they are related to this case. (ECF No. 1-1 at 6-43).

         The Court cannot determine what Branch is alleging in this case. Branch fails to allege coherent facts or articulate a claim or claims against defendants. These deficiencies may be cured through amendment. Therefore, Branch's complaint is dismissed without prejudice. Branch must file an amended complaint explaining how the Court has jurisdiction over the defendants, the circumstances of the case, the relief Branch seeks from the Court, and the law upon which he relies in bringing the case in this Court. The amended complaint must also must follow the directions in Fed.R.Civ.P. 5.2(d) regarding what confidential information must be redacted, as Branch's original complaint contains confidential information. The amended complaint must be “complete in itself, including exhibits, without reference to the superseded pleading.” LR 15-1.

         ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED that Branch's application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 1) is granted.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall file the Complaint (ECF No. 1-1). Given the personal identifiers ...

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