United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
OPINION & ORDER
MICHAEL MCSHANE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
John Salmons, Sr. seeks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) in this action. ECF No. 2.
The State of Oregon, the Oregon Department of Human Services,
and the Oregon Department of Justice (collectively “the
State Defendants, ”) have filed a motion to dismiss.
ECF No. 4. The Court notes the State Defendants' motion,
but for purposes of procedural clarity the Court has opted to
resolve Salmons's IFP petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
reasons set forth below, the Complaint, ECF No. 1, is
DISMISSED with prejudice as to all claims against the State
Defendants brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend as to
Salmons's other claims.
all parties instituting any civil action in United States
District Court must pay a statutory filing fee. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a). However, the federal IFP statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1), provides indigent litigants an opportunity
for meaningful access to federal courts despite their
inability to pay the costs and fees associated with that
access. To authorize a litigant to proceed IFP, a court must
make two determinations. First, a court must determine
whether the litigant is unable to pay the costs of commencing
the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Second, it must
assess whether the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
regard to the second of these determinations, district courts
have the power under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen
complaints even before service of the complaint on the
defendants, and must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state
a claim. Courts apply the same standard under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) as when addressing a motion to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison
v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). To
survive a motion to dismiss under the federal pleading
standards, the complaint must include a short and plain
statement of the claim and “contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. The plausibility standard . . . asks for more than a
sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. The court is not required to
accept legal conclusions, unsupported by alleged facts, as
se pleadings are held to less stringent standards than
pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520-21 (1972). That is, the court should construe
pleadings by pro se plaintiffs liberally and afford
the plaintiffs the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v.
Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th
Cir. 1988). Additionally, a pro se litigant is
entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and
the opportunity to amend, unless the complaint's
deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Id.
Complaint in this case is disjointed and difficult to read.
It appears to assert claims against the State of Oregon, the
Oregon Department of Human Services (“DHS”) and
“State of Oregon Attorneys Generals Office, ”
which the Court interprets as a claim against the Oregon
Department of Justice (“DOJ”), for actions taken
with regard to a state court juvenile dependency proceeding
involving Salmons's children. Some, if not all, of these
claims appear to assert claims for constitutional violations
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Complaint also brings claims against the City of Klamath
Falls and the Carter Jones Collection Agency. These claims
relate to disputes over the payment of fines for municipal
code violations and traffic tickets. The claims against the
City of Klamath Falls and the Carter Jones Collection Agency
do not appear to have any connection to the claims against
the State Defendants.
The State Defendants
appears to bring his claims against the State Defendants
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Title 42 U.S.C. §
1983 “provides a federal cause of action against any
person who, acting under color of state law, deprives another
of his federal rights.” Conn v. Gabbert, 526
U.S. 286, 290 (1999). To maintain a claim under § 1983,
“a plaintiff must both (1) allege the deprivation of a
right secured by the federal Constitution or statutory law,
and (2) allege that the deprivation was committed by a person
acting under color of state law.” Anderson v.
Warner, 451 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006).
Eleventh Amendment provides that a state is immune from suit
in federal court unless Congress has abrogated the
state's immunity by appropriate federal legislation or
the state itself has waived it. Va. Office for Prot.
& Advocacy v. Stewart, 563 U.S. 247, 253-54 (2011).
It is similarly well settled that a state agency is entitled
to sovereign immunity from suit. P. R. Aqueduct &
Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf, 506 U.S. 139, 144 (1993).
Congress has not abrogated state sovereign immunity in 42
U.S.C. § 1983. See Braunstein v. Ariz. Dep't of
Transp., 683 F.3d 1177, 1188 (9th Cir. 2012).
extent that Salmons's claims against the State Defendants
arise under § 1983, those claims are barred by sovereign
immunity. This jurisdictional deficiency cannot be remedied
by amendment and those claims are therefore dismissed with
prejudice. The Court is mindful of the fact that pro
se plaintiffs should be given the benefit of the doubt
and so the Court will proceed to identify the other
deficiencies in Salmons's Complaint. Salmons will also be
given leave to restate his claims on some other basis, if he
is able to do so.
is an essential and unchanging part of the
case-or-controversy requirement of Article III [of the United
States Constitution].” Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). “Standing
addresses whether the plaintiff is the proper party to bring
the matter to the court for adjudication.” Chandler
v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 598 F.3d 1115, 1122
(9th Cir. 2010). At an “irreducible constitutional
minimum, ” Article III standing “requires the
party asserting the existence of federal court jurisdiction
to establish three elements: (1) an injury in fact that is
(a) concrete and particularize and (b) actual or imminent;
(2) causation; and (3) a likelihood that a favorable decision
will redress the injury.” Wolfson v. Brammer,
616 F.3d 1045, 1056 (9th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted).
addition to these constitutional limitations on federal court
jurisdiction, there are also prudential limitations on its
exercise. Fleck & Assocs., Inc. v. City of
Phoenix, 471 F.3d 1100, 1103-04 (9th Cir. 2006). The
doctrine of prudential standing “restrict[s] the
grounds a plaintiff may put forward in seeking to vindicate
his personal stake.” Id. at 1104. Courts must
consider, among other things, “whether the alleged
injury is more than a mere generalized grievance, whether the
plaintiff is asserting her own rights or the rights of third
parties, and whether the claim in question falls within the
zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the
constitutional guarantee in question.”
Wolfson, 616 F.3d at 1056 (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). “As a prudential matter, even