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. On
August 9, 2019, the Court dismissed Mellow's original
Complaint with leave to amend. ECF No. 7. On August 16, 2019,
Mellow filed an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 8. For the reasons
set forth below, the Amended Complaint is DISMISSED with
leave to amend and Plaintiff shall have thirty (30) days in
which to file a second amended complaint. The Court shall
defer ruling on Plaintiffs IFP petition pending submission of
a second 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).
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).
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. Twombfy, 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
August 9, 2019, the Court dismissed Meliow's original
Complaint because it (1) lacked a coherent explanation of
Meliow's claim or claims and (2) it was unclear whether
Mellow had standing to bring the claims in question. The
Court advised Mellow that he should clearly and concisely
explain his claim or claims when amending the complaint, The
Amended Complaint is, much like the original Complaint,
disjointed and difficult to understand.
Amended Complaint indicates that federal jurisdiction is
based on the Fifteenth Amendment; the Fourteenth Amendment
Due Process Clause; the Fourth Amendment; the Fifth
Amendment; and the Eighth Amendment. From this, the Court
once again understands that Mellow intends to bring claims
for violation of his federal constitutional rights pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
this, however, the Complaint lacks the details necessary for
the Court to understand Meliow's claim or claims. Mellow
appears to allege that Josephine County Code
("JCC") 8.10.070 was enacted contrary to the will
of the voters. The code provision in question concerns public
health and nuisance. The following section, which is headed
"Due Process/Double Jeopardy," appears to allege
that the County's system of enforcing JCC 8.10.070 is a
violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against
search and seizure, the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy
Clause and Due Process Clause, and the Eighth Amendment
prohibition on excessive fines. The Complaint does not,
however, describe the enforcement system, nor does it
describe any specific incidents, and so fails to state a
claim for violation of those constitutional guarantees. As
the Court explained in its previous order, vague or
conclusory allegations are not enough to state a claim.
Mellow must allege sufficient facts to state a plausible
claim for relief. Mellow's personal stake in the
litigation also remains unclear, which implicates the same
questions of standing discussed in the Court's previous
Order. Mellow may not litigate a generalized grievance on
behalf of others.
Amended Complaint also mentions Josephine County litigation
concerning Mary Sigmon and Henry Allen. The Amended Complaint
does not describe these cases, but the Court infers that they
are possibly related to enforcement of JCC 8.10.070, although
there is a reference to a receivership concerning property
owned by Henry Allen. It appears that these cases are
ongoing, although who these individuals are, or what their
significance to Mellow's claims might be is not clear. To
the extent that Mellow seeks to bring claims in this Court on
behalf of Sigmon or Allen, he is lacks standing for the
reasons described in the Court's previous Order.
Furthermore, it is well settled that the right to appear .pro
se is personal to the litigant and non-lawyers may
not appear on behalf of others. Simon v. Hartford Life,
Inc., 546 F.3d 661, 664-65 (9th Cir. 2008); Johns v.
Cnty. of San Diego, 114 F.3d 874, 877 (9th Cir. 1997).
the Amended Complaint alleges that Mellow has been evicted
from property owned by Henry Allen and subjected to a
criminal trespass judgment. The Amended Complaint does not
clearly connect the eviction and criminal trespass judgment
to the allegations concerning JCC 8.10, 070. It is not clear
whether Mellow is attempting to challenge the eviction and
criminal trespass judgments in this case, but if so, such a
challenge is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
The Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives federal
district courts of jurisdiction over cases directly
challenging a state court judgment. Exxon Mobil Corp, v.
Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 292 (2005);
Amerisourcebergen Corp. v. Roden, 495 F.3d 1143,
1153 (9th Cir. 2007). If Mellow wishes to challenge either
the judgment of eviction or the criminal trespass judgment,
he should file a direct appeal with the appropriate state
Court concludes that the Amended Complaint fails to state a
claim and Mellow shall be provided with another opportunity
to amend. In drafting the second amended complaint, Mellow
must bear in mind that the Court does not know anything about
his situation or his dispute with Josephine County, other
than what he has alleged in these pleadings. Mellow should
also bear in mind that this Court does not have access to the
dockets of the Josephine County Circuit Court and so
references to filings made in that court are of limited use
in the present case. Mellow should endeavor, using clear and
concise language, to explain what the defendant has done, how
Mellow personally ...