United States District Court, W.D. Washington
BERHANU G. KELBESSA, Plaintiff,
CITY OF SEATTLE, et al., Defendants.
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Berhanu G.
Kelbessa's Amended Complaint (Dkt. ## 20, 21), Motion to
Appoint Counsel (Dkt. # 2), and Motion for Extension of Time
(Dkt. # 7). For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES his
motion to appoint counsel, DENIES as moot his motion for
extension of time, and DISMISSES without leave to amend his
March 1, 2017, Kelbessa filed this action alleging that
Defendants have committed a broad array of civil rights
violations. Dkt. # 1-1. In doing so, Kelbessa submitted an
application to proceed in forma pauperis. Dkt. # 1.
The Honorable Brian A. Tsuchida granted his application. Dkt.
April 5, 2017, the Court dismissed Kelbessa's complaint.
The Court did so pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B),
which requires the Court to dismiss the complaint of an
in forma pauperis plaintiff if that complaint fails
to state a claim. In dismissing Kelbessa's complaint, the
Court granted leave to amend. Kelbessa has since submitted
eleven letters. The Court construes these letters as
Kelbessa's amended complaint.
Motion to Appoint Counsel
a civil action where, as a general matter, a plaintiff does
not have a right to counsel. See Storseth v.
Spellman, 654 F.2d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 1981). In
certain cases, “exceptional circumstances” may
warrant the appointment of counsel. Agyeman v. Corrs.
Corp. of Am., 390 F.3d 1101, 1103 (9th Cir. 2004).
“A finding of exceptional circumstances requires an
evaluation of both ‘the likelihood of success on the
merits and the ability of the petitioner to articulate his
claims pro se in light of the complexity of the legal issues
involved.'” Wilborn v. Escalderon, 789
F.2d 1328, 1331 (9th Cir. 1986) (quoting Weygandt v.
Look, 718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th Cir. 1983).
Court finds that no exceptional circumstances warrant the
appointment of counsel because Kelbessa is unlikely to
succeed on the merits. Kelbessa's letters, which the
Court construes as his amended complaint, contain sprawling,
largely incomprehensible allegations of abuse and
enslavement. He requests vast sums of money in damages.
See, e.g., Dkt. # 21-3 ($12, 980, 154, 000, 000).
Neither these allegations nor the remainder of facts alleged
in Kelbessa's eleven letters demonstrate that Kelbessa is
reasonably likely to prevail on the merits. Because no
exceptional circumstances warrant the appointment of counsel,
Kelbessa's motions are denied.
Court's authority to grant in forma pauperis
status derives from 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Court is
required to dismiss an in forma pauperis
plaintiff's case if the Court determines that “the
action . . . (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A complaint is
frivolous if it lacks a basis in law or fact. Andrews v.
King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). A complaint
fails to state a claim if it does not “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 568 (2007).
noted, the Court previously dismissed Kelbessa's
complaint with leave to amend because the complaint failed to
state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In doing
so, the Court stated, “If Kelbessa fails to timely
comply with this Order by filing an amended complaint that
sufficiently addresses the deficiencies noted above, the
Court will dismiss this action without leave to amend.”
Dkt. # 16.
since amended his complaint. His amended complaint, however,
fails to correct the deficiencies identified by the Court.
Kelbessa alleges a conclusory, incomprehensible array of
abuses, including enslavement, violence, economic harm,
neglect, and psychological abuse. He alleges trillions of
dollars in damages. These allegations lack any conceivable
basis in fact and fail to state a plausible claim.
Accordingly, Kelbessa's complaint is frivolous and fails
to state a valid claim for relief. The Court DISMISSES
Kelbessa's complaint without leave to amend. Lucas v.
Dep't of Corr., 6 ...