United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
CLAY HENRY LEE HITT; KRISTILYN SPERLING; DALE LEE HITT, Plaintiffs,
DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON; DAWNELLE M. MARSHALL; MERCY MEDICAL CENTER; CHI, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
Aiken United States District Judge
seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis
("IFP"). ECF No. 2. For the reasons set forth
below, the Complaint, ECF No. 1, is DISMISSED with leave to
amend. The Court shall defer ruling on Plaintiffs IFP
petition pending submission of an amended complaint.
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. §
regard to the second determination, 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 Rules 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 Art.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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 true.
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 give
them 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
bring claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of
their rights under the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs also bring claims for
violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1959, 241, and 242.
preliminary matter, Plaintiffs assert diversity as basis for
federal jurisdiction over their claims. To establish
diversity jurisdiction, a plaintiff must allege that he or
she is a citizen of one state, that all of the defendants are
citizens of other states, and that damages are more than $75,
000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiffs' filings indicate
that all parties are citizens of Oregon. Diversity
jurisdiction is therefore unavailable.
further preliminary matter, Plaintiffs assert claims under 18
U.S.C. §§ 1959, 241 and 242. These are federal
criminal statutes and do not provide a private right of
action or a basis for recovery in a civil action. Those
statutes cannot, therefore, confer federal question
jurisdiction over this case and must be dismissed.
final bases for federal question jurisdiction are
Plaintiffs' claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section
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). I.
Insufficient Factual A [legations The most
fundamental problem with Plaintiffs' complaint is that,
although it is overly detailed on certain points, it lacks
sufficient factual allegations for the Court to understand
Plaintiffs' claims in anything but the most general
terms. The complaint makes vague allegations to the effect
that DHS took custody of Clay shortly after his birth,
apparently with the assistance of the hospital and medical
staff, but it contains no allegations concerning the conduct
of many of the other defendants.
the complaint alleges that Defendants violated
Plaintiffs' rights under several constitutional
provisions but does not say how. For instance, Plaintiffs
allege a violation of their Second Amendment rights, but the
complaint contains no allegations concerning that violation.
that information, the Court is unable to properly evaluate
Plaintiffs' claims. Accordingly, the complaint is
DISMISSED with leave to amend. In drafting their amended
complaint, Plaintiffs should bear in mind that the Court does
not know anything about the facts of their case, other than
what they include in their pleadings. II. Clay Hitt
Sperling and Hitt appear to bring claims on behalf of their
infant son, Clay. But as explained below, as neither Sperling
nor Hitt are licensed attorneys, this representation is not
all courts of the United States the parties may plead and
conduct their own cases personally or by counsel as, by the
rules of such courts, respectively, are permitted to manage
and conduct causes therein." 28 U.S.C. § 1654.
However, "a non-lawyer has no authority to appear as an
attorney for others than himself." Johns v. Cty. of
San Diego,114 F.3d 874, 877 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted); Walsh v.
Enge, 154 F. Supp, 3d 1113, 1124 n.6 (D. Or. 2015),
"It is well established that the privilege to represent
oneself prose by § 1654 is personal
to the litigant and does not extend to other parties or
entities." Simon v. Hartford Life, Inc., 546
F.3d 661, 664-65 (9th Cir. 2008). This prohibition extends
even to parents or guardians who seek to bring an action on
behalf of a minor child without retaining a lawyer.