United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
L. ROBART United States District Judge
the court are pro se Plaintiff Herman Lee Barton
Jr.'s complaint (Compl. (Dkt. # 5)) and Magistrate Judge
James P. Donohue's order granting Mr. Barton in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) status and recommending
that the court review his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) before issuing summons (IFP Order (Dkt.
# 4)). The court finds that Mr. Barton's claims are
frivolous and that he fails to state a claim. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). The court also finds
that amendment of Mr. Barton's frivolous claims would be
futile. The court therefore DISMISSES Mr. Barton's
complaint with prejudice pursuant to Section 1915.
Barton sues Defendant United States Senate for failing to set
a sufficient monthly social security benefit in Whatcom
County, Washington. (Compl. at 2.) He asserts that the
minimum cost of living in Whatcom County is $1, 775.00 per
month, or $21, 300.00 per year, and that irrespective of
whether a disabled person has paid federal taxes, “the
cost of living is still the cost of living.”
(Id.) Accordingly, he seeks to hold a jury trial on
the cost of living and obtain declaratory and injunctive
relief setting these cost of living values for purposes of
calculating social security benefits. (Id. at 3.) He
also asserts that disabled people “should have” a
constitutional right to a good quality of life. (Id.
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to 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)); see also Telesaurus VPC, LLC
v. Power, 623 F.3d 998, 1003 (9th Cir. 2010). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The court,
however, need not accept as true a legal conclusion presented
as a factual allegation. Id. Furthermore, although
“the allegations of [a pro se plaintiff's]
complaint, ‘however inartfully pleaded' are held
‘to less stringent standards than normal pleadings
drafted by lawyers, '” Hughes v. Rowe, 449
U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972)), dismissal remains appropriate where
“a liberal construction does not remedy the palpable
deficiencies in [the] complaint, ” Wallmuller v.
Russell, No. C14-5121RBL-JRC, 2014 WL 2475978, at *2
(W.D. Wash. June 3, 2014).
allegations in Mr. Barton's complaint do not give rise to
a plausible inference of liability and evince the frivolity
of his claim. See 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Mr. Barton fails to identify any legal
authority supporting entitlement to the relief he seeks or
this court's ability to effectuate that relief.
(See Compl. at 2-4.) Indeed, Mr. Barton tacitly
acknowledges that he has no constitutional right that
supports the relief he seeks. (Id. at 2 (arguing
that disabled people “should have” a
constitutional right to “good quality of life”).)
Furthermore, United States Senators enjoy immunity for
actions taken in their legislative capacity. See San
Pedro Hotel Co. v. City of L.A., 159 F.3d 470, 476 (9th
Cir. 1998). Finally, to the extent Mr. Barton challenges his
social security benefit, the United States Senate is not the
appropriate defendant, see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
this suit is not the appropriate vehicle, see 20
C.F.R. § 416.1481, and he appears to already have a
lawsuit pending in this district that challenges his
benefits, see Barton v. Berryhill, No. C17-0609DWC
(W.D. Wash.), Dkt. # 10 at 2 (suing Acting Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration Nancy A. Berryhill for
paying insufficient benefits); see also Cato v. United
States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1105 n.2 (9th Cir. 1995) (citing
Bailey v. Johnson, 846 F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir.
1988)); Bailey, 846 F.2d at 1021 (“[C]ourts
have also held that an IFP complaint that merely repeats
pending or previously litigated claims may be considered
abusive and dismissed under the authority of [Section
1915].”). Accordingly, the court concludes that Mr.
Barton's lawsuit fails to state a claim for relief and is
frivolous. See 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). The incurable legal shortcomings make
it “absolutely clear” that amendment could not
remedy the defects in Mr. Barton's complaint, and the
court accordingly denies leave to amend. Lucas v.
Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995).
on the foregoing analysis, the court DISMISSES Mr.
Barton's complaint with prejudice pursuant to 28 ...