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Dorsey-Hill v. Tacoma Rescue Mission

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 16, 2015



RONALD B. LEIGHTON, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Dorsey-Hill's Motion for Leave to proceed in forma pauperis. [Dkt. #1] Dorsey-Hill claims that the Tacoma Rescue Mission (or one its employees, perhaps Mr. Zander) took wrongful possession of a $3544 social security check[1] issued to him. He sued the TRM's executive director in small claims court and lost. He now seeks to sue the Tacoma Rescue Mission for a variety of "crimes" related to cashing the stolen check: he asserts "federal" claims for "larceny, " "receiving stolen property, " "forgery, " "lettering a forged instrument, " "obstruction of justice, " and "corporate crime." He also apparently seeks repayment of $10, 000.

A district court may permit indigent litigants to proceed in forma pauperis upon completion of a proper affidavit of indigency. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The court has broad discretion in resolving the application, but "the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis in civil actions for damages should be sparingly granted." Weller v. Dickson, 314 F.2d 598, 600 (9th Cir. 1963), cert. denied 375 U.S. 845 (1963). Moreover, a court should "deny leave to proceed in forma pauperis at the outset if it appears from the face of the proposed complaint that the action is frivolous or without merit." Tripati v. First Nat'l Bank & Trust, 821 F.2d 1368, 1369 (9th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). An in forma pauperis complaint is frivolous if "it ha[s] no arguable substance in law or fact." Id. (citing Rizzo v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 527, 529 (9th Cir. 1985); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1228 (9th Cir. 1984).

A pro se Plaintiff's complaint is to be construed liberally, but like any other complaint it must nevertheless contain factual assertions sufficient to support a facially plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). A claim for relief is facially plausible when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Plaintiff's proposed complaint does not meet this standard. First, he has not identified any possible basis for this court's jurisdiction over this dispute. He claims that the alleged theft is a federal crime but he has cited no such federal statue, and instead has cited a variety of state law precedents (many form other states). He has not asserted any cognizable federal civil claim; his complaint is instead a sort of proposed criminal prosecution of the Tacoma Rescue Mission. But a private citizen may not prosecute crimes or enforce criminal statutes. See, e.g. Rockefeller v. U.S. Court of Appeals Office for Tenth Circuit, 248 F.Supp.2d 17, 22 (D.D.C. 2003).

Nor has Dorsey-Hill claimed that his constitutional rights have been violated, or identified a person who he claims violated them:

Generally, under § 1983, a person can be sued for constitutional violations committed under the color of state law. A state and its agencies are not a person under § 1983.

See Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43, 69 (1997).

In order to state a claim, Dorsey-Hill's proposed complaint must address these shortcomings. He must identify a valid basis for this court's jurisdiction over his claim and the parties, and he must assert a valid civil claim against a viable defendant.

For these reasons, Dorsey-Hill's application to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED. Plaintiff shall pay the filing fee, or file a proposed amended complaint addressing these deficiencies, within 21 days of this Order, or the matter will be dismissed without further notice.


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