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Brinkman v. Internal Revenue Service

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 30, 2013

DAN BRINKMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TAX DIVISION, ET AL. Defendants.

Dan Brinkman, Portland, OR, Pro se

OPINION AND ORDER

MICHAEL H. SIMON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Dan Brinkman ("Brinkman") filed pro se claims against Defendants, the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), the United States Department of Justice Tax Division ("Department of Justice"), 24 individually-named government officials, and two federal agencies. Dkt. 2. Service of process has not yet occurred. Brinkman filed an application with the court to proceed in forma pauperis , Dkt. 1, and the Court grants Brinkman's application to proceed in forma pauperis .

Under the liberal pleading standards afforded to filings of a pro se plaintiff, the Court finds that Brinkman fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, this case is dismissed with prejudice and without leave to amend.

STANDARDS

A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim may be granted only when there is no cognizable legal theory to support the claim or when the complaint lacks sufficient factual allegations to state a facially plausible claim for relief. Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc. , 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded material facts alleged in the complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Wilson v. Hewlett-Packard Co. , 668 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2012); Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n , 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). To be entitled to a presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint "may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively." Starr v. Baca , 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). All reasonable inferences from the factual allegations must be drawn in favor of the plaintiff. Newcal Indus. v. Ikon Office Solution , 513 F.3d 1038, 1043 n.2 (9th Cir. 2008). The court need not, however, credit the plaintiff's legal conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

A complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to "plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation." Baca , 652 F.3d at 1216. "A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 663 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

A court must liberally construe the filings of a pro se plaintiff and afford the plaintiff the benefit of any reasonable doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler , 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). "A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment." Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't , 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, however, every complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." This standard "does not require detailed factual allegations, '" but does demand "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678, (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555).

A complaint filed in forma pauperis may be dismissed at any time, including before service of process, if the court determines that:

(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or
(B) the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989); Jackson v. State of Arizona , 885 F.2d 881, 882 (9th Cir. 1989). A complaint is frivolous "where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact." Neitzke , 490 U.S. at 325; Lopez v. Dep't of Health Servs. , 939 F.2d 881, 882 (9th Cir. 1991); Jackson , 885 F.2d at 640.

"Defective allegations of jurisdiction may be amended, upon terms, in trial or appellate courts." 28 U.S.C. § 1653. It is improper to dismiss an action based on a defective allegation of jurisdiction without leave to amend "unless it is clear, upon de novo review, that the complaint could not be saved by amendment." Snell v. Cleveland, Inc. , 316 F.3d 822, ...


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