United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
OPINION & ORDER
AIKEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ronald Vincent Mellow 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 and Plaintiff shall have thirty
(30) days in which to file an amended complaint, The Court
shall defer ruling on Plaintiffs IFP petition 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).
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). Watlson
v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012).
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 lacks a coherent
explanation of Mellow's claims, although it generally
appears that Mellow intends to challenge tax lien
foreclosures initiated by Defendant Josephine County. The
Complaint indicates that federal jurisdiction is based on
"Amendment 14 Section 1, Amendment 15 Right to Vote,
to Redress Grievances, Due Process, Search [and]
Seizure." Compl, 3. From this, the Court understands
that Mellow intends to bring a claim for violation of his
federal constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1983.' Beyond this, however, the Complaint lacks
the details necessary for the Court to understand
Mellow's claim or claims. Mellow alleges that in recent
years, the County has foreclosed on numerous properties for
failure to pay county taxes and has sold those properties at
auction, Mellow alleges that these foreclosure sales have
been "illegal" and an "abuse of the legal
process," but does not explain how, nor does he allege
sufficient facts to show that such foreclosures failed to
comport with the requirements of the Due Process Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment or any of the other constitutional
provisions cited by Mellow.
also alleges that the County "Board of Commissioners
& Co. Attorney illegally amended a failed Ordinance
2013-002 into law using Ordinance 90-16," but the
Complaint does not explain this allegation, nor does it
connect the cited ordinances to the allegations concerning
forfeiture of property for unpaid taxes.
although the Complaint alleges in general terms that the
County has acted unlawfully to the detriment of hundreds of
Josephine County property owners, it does not clearly allege
that Mellow has personally been harmed by the County's
actions, which raises questions of standing.
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 Mat. 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 particularized 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
when a plaintiff has ...