United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
OPINION & ORDER
Donald Alan Coons seeks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis ("IFP") in this action. 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
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
understand. The Court believes that the heart of Coons's
Complaint concerns the presence of a streetlight outside of
his home and/or office.
are several issues with Coons's Complaint, as currently
pleaded. The first and most serious is jurisdictional.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,
"possessing only that power authorized by Constitution
and statute." Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256
(2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Federal jurisdiction may be based upon the presence of a
federal question or on diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1332. To invoke federal question
jurisdiction, a plaintiff must plead that the defendant has
violated some constitutional or statutory provision. 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 the damages
are more than $75, 000.
case, Coons is asserting federal question jurisdiction based
on "Thee [sic] 1789 Providence Rhode Island G.W. Compact
real estate law that refers at least title or at least before
title consideration not excluding argument [sic] against
synthetic light harassment or nonmgmt [sic]." The Court
is unable to identify the law or laws Coons is referring to
in this section. As such, the Court is unable to satisfy
itself that it possesses subject matter jurisdiction over
more general problem with Coons's Complaint is its
incomprehensibility, The discussion of the streetlight, if
that is indeed the core of the Complaint, is brief. The
Complaint goes on to describe Coon's family history,
including his father and grandfather's jobs, and a
volcanic eruption in Central America. The Court does not know
what, if any, significance of these facts have to Coons's
Complaint. The Court cannot understand Coons's grievance
and so cannot assess whether Coons has standing or if this
Court has jurisdiction. No defendant, if served with the
current Complaint, could form a meaningful understanding of
the claim or claims being made against it.
light of the deficiencies described above, the Court
concludes that Coons has failed to state a claim. The Court
is mindful of the latitude that must be accorded to pro
se plaintiffs, however, and Coons will therefore be
given leave to file an amended complaint. In drafting the
amended complaint, Coons must bear in mind that the Court
does not know anything about the facts of his case, other
than what he chooses to include in the amended complaint. In
addition to the jurisdictional issues, Coons should carefully
explain what has happened, who has done what, how he believes
he was injured by the actions of the defendants, and why he
believes that the defendants should be held liable for the
injury. Any facts unrelated to Coons's grievance should
reasons set forth above, the Complaint, ECF No. 1, is
DISMISSED with leave to amend. Plaintiff shall have thirty
(30) days from the date of this Order in which to file an
amended complaint. Plaintiff is advised that failure to file
an amended complaint within the allotted time will result in
the entry of a judgment of dismissal. The Court defers ruling
on Plaintiffs petition ...