United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
B. LEIGHTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Alisha Silbaugh's
Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis, supported by
her proposed complaint [Dkt. # 1]. Silbaugh claims that she
was sexually harassed at her place of employment (the
Department of Veterans Affairs in Dupont Washington) in 2013
and 2014. She claims she complained to the EEOC and that as a
result, she reached a verbal settlement agreement with the
VA, and withdrew her complaint. She alleges that the VA
breached the agreement and she again complained to the EEOC,
this time also alleging disability discrimination. She claims
she was awarded a “permanent and total, 100%”
disability based on the matters in the scope of her EEOC
complaint. She also claims the disability that was the
subject of discrimination was a 70% mental, service-related
disability. She received a right to sue letter, and sued.
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.
person is eligible to proceed in forma pauperis if
they are unable to pay the costs of filing and still provide
the necessities of life. See Rowland v. Cal. Men's
Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory Council, 506 U.S.
194, 203 (1993) (internal quotations omitted). This generally
includes incarcerated individuals with no assets and persons
who are unemployed and dependent on government assistance.
See, e.g., Ilagan v. McDonald, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
79889, at *2 (D. Nev. June 16, 2016) (granting petition based
on unemployment and zero income); Reed v. Martinez,
2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80629, at *1, 2015 WL 3821514 (D. Nev.
June 19, 2015) (granting petition for incarcerated individual
on condition that applicant provides monthly payments towards
filing fee). It does not include those whose access to the
court system is not blocked by their financial constraints,
but rather are in a position of having to weigh the financial
constraints pursuing a case imposes. See Sears, Roebuck
& Co. v. Charles W. Sears Real Estate, Inc., 686
F.Supp. 385, 388 (N.D. N.Y.), aff'd, 865 F.2d 22 (2d Cir.
1988) (denying petition to proceed IFP because petitioner and
his wife had a combined annual income of between $34, 000 and
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.
the Court will permit pro se litigants an opportunity to
amend their complaint 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.”)
proposed complaint does not meet this standard. She does not
identify any individual who discriminated against her, how
they did so, when, where or why. She does not identify her
disability or the accommodation she apparently sought, who
refused it, or in what context. She does not identify the
settlement agreement, who made it, or how or when it was
her claims appear to be time-barred as they happened more
than 6 years ago, and the EEOC itself appears to have told
her that her complaint to it was at least partly untimely.
Her motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is
DENIED. She shall pay the filing fee or file an proposed
amended complaint within 21 days of this Order, or the matter
will be dismissed.
proposed amended complaint should address the “who what
when where why and how” of her harassment and
disability discrimination (and, if she is asserting them, her
retaliation) claims. It is not enough to sue the agency and
simply claim it discriminated against her. It ...