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Smith-Ostroumov v. Long

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 3, 2019

BRADLEY V. SMITH-OSTROUMOV, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDRE LONG, CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER

         On December 10, 2018, Plaintiff Bradley V. Smith-Ostroumov (“Smith-Ostroumov”) filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) (ECF No. 2) and a pro se complaint (ECF Nos. 2-1 & 2-2). On February 25, 2019, Smith-Ostroumov filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint and a first amended complaint. (ECF No. 11.) The Court will grant the application to proceed in forma pauperis and deny the motion for leave to amend.

         I. IN FORMA PAUPERIS APPLICATION

         A person may be granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) if the person “submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such [person] possesses [and] that the person is unable pay such fees or give security therefore. Such affidavit shall state the nature of the action, defense or appeal and affiant's belief that the person is entitled to redress.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (stating 28 U.S.C. § 1915 applies to all actions filed IFP, not just prisoner actions).

         The Local Rules of Practice for the District of Nevada provide: “Any person who is unable to prepay the fees in a civil case may apply to the court for authority to proceed [IFP]. The application must be made on the form provided by the court and must include a financial affidavit disclosing the applicant's income, assets, expenses, and liabilities.” LSR 1-1.

         “[T]he supporting affidavit [must] state the facts as to [the] affiant's poverty with some particularity, definiteness and certainty.” U.S. v. McQuade, 647 F.2d 938, 940 (9th Cir. 1981) (quotation marks and citation omitted). A litigant need not “be absolutely destitute to enjoy the benefits of the statute.” Adkins v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948).

         A review of the application to proceed IFP reveals Smith-Ostroumov cannot pay the filing fee; therefore, the application is granted.

         II. SCREENING STANDARD

         Prior to ordering service on any defendant, the Court is required to screen an in forma pauperis complaint to determine whether dismissal is appropriate under certain circumstances. See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1126 (noting the in forma pauperis statute at 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint for the enumerated reasons). Such screening is required before a litigation proceeding in forma pauperis may proceed to serve a pleading. Glick v. Edwards, 803 F.3d 505, 507 (9th Cir. 2015).

         “[T]he court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that - (A) the allegations of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or appeal - (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (ii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(A), (B)(i)-(iii).

         Dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted is provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and 28 U.S.C. § 1915€(2)(B)(ii) tracks that language. As such, when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint under this statute, the court applies the same standard as is applied under Rule 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (“The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.”). Review under Rule 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of law. See Chappel v. Lab. Corp. of America, 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted).

         The Court must accept as true the allegations, construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969) (citations omitted). Allegations in pro se complaints are “held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers[.]” Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (internal quotations marks and citation omitted).

         A complaint must contain more than a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of actions, ” it must contain factual allegations sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “The pleading must contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.” Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted). At a minimum, a plaintiff should include “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570; see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         A dismissal should not be without leave to amend unless it is clear from the face of the complaint the action is frivolous and could not be amended to state a federal claim, or the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995); O'Loughlin v. Doe, 920 F.2d 614, 616 (9th Cir. 1990).

         III. ...


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