United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
ROBERT S. BONDICK, Plaintiff,
BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM, Defendant,
OPINION AND ORDER
ANNAIKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Robert S. Bondick seeks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis ("IFP") in this action. For the
reasons set forth below, the Complaint (doc. 1) is DISMISSED
with leave to amend because plaintiff has not established
standing to sue. See Fed, R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3)
(requiring court to dismiss an action "at any time"
if it determines that subject-matter jurisdiction is
lacking); Winston v. Lynch, 835 F.3d 1083, 1090 n.2
(9th Cir. 2016) (standing is a jurisdictional issue). The
Court shall defer ruling on plaintiffs IFP Petition (doc. 2)
and Motion for Appointment of Pro Bono Counsel (doc. 3)
pending submission of an amended complaint.
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).
respect 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 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% 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.
alleges that he "suffered homelessness as a result of a
trickle down effect from the Federal Reserve to
Real-Estate/' Compl. at 4. According to plaintiff
"[a] national guideline for regulation of price control
for real-estate property management to require a 30% and very
seldom 25% ratio of income to the cost is put in place
governed ultimately by the three branches of the Federal
Reserve System." Id. at 6. In other words,
plaintiff alleges that a Federal Reserve policy related to
real estate has contributed to property management
companies' income standards for applicants. Plaintiff
asserts that those income standards made it difficult for
plaintiff to qualify for housing, even though he received
monthly disability payments and had been able to make rent on
with those payments for over ten years. Id. He
further asserts that the income requirements "are the
crucial reason for the two and a half years of
homelessness" he experienced and caxised him to
"fallQ behind on credit cards." Id.
Finally, plaintiff asserts that, during his period of
homelessness, "he got beat up at night."
Id. Ex. 1 at 1. Plaintiff asks the Court for "a
Federal Injunction along with punitive damage and personal
injury." Id. at 6.
most fundamental problem with the Complaint is that plaintiff
has failed to allege standing. Article III standing is a
jurisdictional requirement for any claim filed in federal
court. Wilson v. Lynch, 835, 5.3d 1083, 1090 &
n.2. To have standing, a "plaintiff must have (1)
suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to
the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is
likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial
decision." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct.
1540, 1547 (2016). At the pleading stage, the complaint must
contain facts establishing each element of standing.
has alleged the following injuries: a two-and-a-half-year
period of homelessness, credit card debt, and physical
injuries. However, based on the allegations, these injuries
are not "fairly traceable" to the Federal
Reserve's conduct. Plaintiff alleges that the Federal
Reserves' real estate policies contributed to property
management companies' income standards, which in turn
were the primary causes of plaintiffs homelessness, debt, and
physical injuries. There are too many links in that
"chain of causation" between the challenged conduct
and plaintiffs asserted injuries. Allen v. Wright,
468 U.S. 737, 759 (1984). The injuries to plaintiff are
"highly indirect" and appear to result "from
the independent actions of [multiple] third part[ies] not
before the court," including the property management
companies that denied plaintiffs applications and the
individuals who beat plaintiff up during the time when he did
not have an apartment. Id. at 578.
lack of standing warrants dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e). However, because plaintiff could allege
additional facts to remedy this deficiency, plaintiff shall
have leave to amend his complaint. In crafting his amended
complaint, plaintiff should keep in mind these additional
issues with the Complaint.
it appears that plaintiff is trying to sue a federal agency,
which implicates issues of sovereign immunity. The sovereign
immunity doctrine generally "shields the Federal
Government and its agencies from suit[, ]" unless the
government has waived immunity. Harger v. Dep't of
Labor, 569 F.3d 898, 903 (9th Cir. 2009). The party
suing the United States bears the burden of identifying an
"unequivocal waiver of immunity." Holloman v.
Watt, 708 F.2d 1399, 1401 (9th Cir. 1983). The Complaint
does not identify any basis for a waiver of sovereign
immunity for his requests for injunctive relief and damages.
plaintiff cites the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution as provisions at issue in this case.
Compl, at 3. However, he does not provide any facts
supporting these legal theories. Instead, the Complaint
focuses on "14th Amendment violations of civil rights on
public welfare." Id. at 6. Additionally, the
Ninth Amendment does not independently create
judicially-enforceable constitutional rights.
Schowengerdt v. United States, 944 F.3d, 490 (9th
Cir. 1991). The Tenth Amendment concerns the distribution of
power between the federal government and state governments.
It is not clear how plaintiffs allegations implicate this
the Fourteenth Amendment applies only to the states and,
thus, cannot be grounds for relief against the federal
defendants in this case. However, a plaintiff may bring equal
protection and due process claims against federal defendants
under the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. See
United States v. Windsor,570 U.S. 744, 774 (2013)
("The liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment's Due