United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA
B. Leighton United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Joe Ann West's
Motion for Leave to proceed in forma pauperis,
supported by her proposed complaint [Dkt. # 1]. West has now
filed 12 cases in this District in the past two years. 11 of
them name the Secretary of the Navy as the sole defendant;
the other named Attorney General Sessions. Each relates
loosely to West's employment at the Naval Shipyard at
Bremerton (and her termination from that employment). West
repeatedly alludes to EEOC procedure(s) but she has yet to
describe them. Each complaint is based on the same
general, lengthy, and difficult to read set of facts and
accusations, and most name the same people and parties.
Though each is slightly different, they are all essentially
the same and the all arise from the same set of facts.
of the first nine cases were dismissed. One remains open,
with a Motion to Dismiss pending. [See West v.
Spencer Cause No. 17-5510RBL]. In December 2017, West
filed three more cases against the Secretary. In two of the
new cases, including this one, she also names the Acting
Chair of the EEOC, Victoria Lipnic.
“new” claim in West's 21-page proposed
complaint in this case relates to “planned practices of
ongoing retaliation.” The rest is cut and pasted from
her other complaints, including a portion of complaint she
filed the same day, in West v. Spencer, Cause No.
17-cv-6024RBL. West repeats her complaints about the EEOC
process she apparently went through as an employee, which has
been featured in each of her dozen complaints. In any event,
West asserts Title VII claims based on sex (and possibly
race, and possibly mental impairment) discrimination,
retaliation, and “disparate treatment.”
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);
see also Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1228
(9th Cir. 1984).
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.
complaint does not and cannot meet this plausibility
standard. Even if she had not already repeatedly attempted to
assert claims based on the same factual background in a dozen
largely duplicative actions, the complaint does not remotely
state a viable, plausible claim against either Spencer or
Lipnic-she does not allege that either of them actually did
anything, and the various people she does identify are not
has not plausibly plead a Title VII claim against anyone.
Despite its length, this complaint (like all of her others)
fails to articulate any fact upon which a viable
discrimination claim could be based. She claims she is a
disabled African-American female, and it can be inferred that
she was terminated, but there is no allegation of when or
why, or how her race color sex age or disability was the
basis for her termination, or why these claims are not barred
by the dismissal of apparently identical ones in the past.
Furthermore, West seems to suggest that she is planning to
assert a class action, though she recognizes that she cannot
represent a class pro se. Her complain includes a
variety of claims and complaints and allegations by and about
the treatment of others in the Navy (again with no context
and no discernable relation to West). These are not plausible
claims made by West in support of her claims against Spencer
the Court will permit pro se litigants an opportunity to
amend their complaint in order to state a plausible claim.
See United States v. Corinthian Colleges, 655 F.3d
984, 995 (9th Cir. 2011) (“Dismissal without leave to
amend is improper unless it is clear, upon de novo review,
that the complaint could not be saved by any
amendment.”). But there is no reason to do so in this
has filed 12 substantially similar cases (and in those cases,
more than 100 motions), all based on variations of the same
basic set of underlying facts: she was terminated, she went
through an administrative process, she lost, and she failed
to timely file a lawsuit in this Court. See, for
example, West v Stackley, Cause No. 17-cv-5246RBL at
Dkt. # 47 (dismissing a similar claim with prejudice and
without leave to amend). Indeed, West's complaint in this
case suggests at the very end that it “could have been
consolidated with 17-cv-5246.” [Dkt. # 1-1 at 36] But
that case was dismissed with prejudice before this case was
filed. The dismissal of this case (and others) is already on
is nothing that West could add or alter in yet another bite
at the apple that would cure the fatal defects outlined above
in in various prior Orders in numerous prior cases. Her
Motion for Leave to proceed in forma pauperis is
DENIED, and West's claims in this matter are DISMISSED
with prejudice and without leave to amend.