United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR
matter comes before the Court on the report and
recommendation of the Honorable Michelle L. Peterson, United
States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 9), and Plaintiff Roland
Ma's objections (Dkt. No. 13) and motion to strike (Dkt.
No. 8). Having thoroughly considered the parties'
briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral
argument unnecessary and hereby ADOPTS Judge Peterson's
report and recommendation, OVERRULES Plaintiff's
objections, and DENIES Plaintiff's motion to strike.
16, 2019, Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit by filing a motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis
(“IFP”). (Dkt. No. 1.) In his complaint,
Plaintiff asserts that Defendant United States Department of
Education “failed to protect students by enforcing the
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the
Section 504, in accordance to the most recent Case Processing
Manual (CPM) issued on November 19, 2018.” (Dkt. No.
1-1 at 4.) He additionally alleges that Defendant University
of Southern California (“USC”) “failed to
provide reasonable accommodations in accordance to the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, and the
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, which also
prohibits retaliation against the individuals.”
Court recently presided over two lawsuits filed by Plaintiff
that alleged nearly identical claims as the instant
complaint. See Ma v. Univ. of S. Cal., No.
C18-1778-JCC (W.D. Wash. 2018); Ma v. Department of
Education, et al., No. C19-0399-JCC (W.D. Wash. 2019).
The Court dismissed Plaintiff's first lawsuit without
prejudice pursuant to Plaintiff's motion for voluntary
dismissal. See Ma, No. C18-1778-JCC, Dkt. No. 86.
Plaintiff filed his second lawsuit a day later and sought
leave to proceed IFP. See Ma, No. C19-0399-JCC, Dkt.
on the report and recommendation of the Honorable Mary Alice
Theiler, United States Magistrate Judge, the Court denied
Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP. Ma, No.
C19-0399-JCC, Dkt. No. 37. In doing so, the Court noted that
“Plaintiff both omitted and provided inconsistent
information regarding his sources of money or other benefits
he receives.” Id. The Court also pointed out
that Plaintiff had provided information that suggested he was
not impoverished: for example, that he was making payments on
an almost $28, 000 car loan and that he could pay for a
personal accountant. Id. The Court concluded that
Plaintiff had failed to allege poverty with sufficient
particularity, definiteness, and certainty. Id. The
day after the Court denied Plaintiff's motion to proceed
IFP, Plaintiff paid the $400 filing fee using a Visa credit
16, 2019, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint
without prejudice for failing to comply with its order to
meet and confer with Defendants. See Ma, No.
C19-0399-JCC, Dkt. No. 80. Later that day, Plaintiff filed
the instant complaint with a motion to proceed IFP. (Dkt.
Nos. 1, 5.) USC filed a declaration in opposition to
Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP, with several exhibits
purporting to demonstrate that Plaintiff is not impoverished.
(See Dkt. No. 6.) Plaintiff filed a motion to strike
USC's declaration as improper. (Dkt. No. 8.)
August 5, 2019, Judge Peterson issued a report and
recommendation that recommends that the Court deny
Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP. (Dkt. No. 9.) Judge
Peterson noted that Plaintiff's IFP application
“failed to adequately describe his monthly
expenses.” (Id. at 3.) Judge Peterson also
noted that “[b]ased on Plaintiff's previous IFP
applications, it also appears he has withheld and omitted
information indicating he has the ability to pay the filing
fee.” (Id.) Judge Peterson recommended that
Plaintiff be required to pay the $400 filing fee within 30
days or have his case dismissed. (Id.) Judge
Peterson also recommended that Plaintiff's motion to
strike (Dkt. No. 8) be denied.
objections to Judge Peterson's report and recommendation
are unavailing. (See Dkt. No. 13.) Plaintiff states
that because he has received court-appointed counsel in
various state court criminal proceedings, he should qualify
for IFP status in this case. (Id. at 2.) This Court
is not bound by a state court's IFP decisions, and the
Court is required to consider the information provided by
Plaintiff in his IFP applications. The record before the
Court continues to demonstrate that Plaintiff has either
omitted or provided conflicting information regarding his
financial status, and continually disregarded the Court's
orders. Plaintiff's current IFP application is incomplete
and also provides conflicting information with the IFP
applications he has submitted in prior lawsuits.
Compare Dkt. No. 5, with Ma, No.
C19-0399-JCC, Dkt. No. 1. As one example, in his prior IFP
application, Plaintiff stated that he was last employed in
December 2018 with a monthly salary of $898. Ma, No.
C19-0399-JCC, Dkt. No. 1. In his current IFP application,
Plaintiff reports having no prior employment. (Dkt. No. 5 at
1.) Plaintiff's representations to this Court have been
littered with these types of inconsistencies and omissions.
See Ma, No. C19-0399-JCC, Dkt. No. 37 (detailing the
various inconsistencies between Plaintiff's IFP
litigation conduct before this Court has been reprehensible.
In his prior lawsuit, the Court sanctioned Plaintiff for
serving abusive subpoenas on USC's counsel of record and
her family members. See Ma, No. C19-0399-JCC, Dkt.
No. 37. The Court also dismissed Plaintiff's prior
lawsuit for failing to meet and confer with Defendants as
explicitly ordered by the Court. Ma, No.
C19-0399-JCC, Dkt. No. 80. And on August 6, 2019, the
Court's finance department was contacted by
Plaintiff's credit card company and informed that
Plaintiff had disputed the $400 payment for the filing fee
made in his prior lawsuit after the Court dismissed his case.
As a result, the credit card company reversed the $400
payment made to the Court for the filing fee. Plaintiff's
actions place him in direct violation of the Court's
prior order denying IFP status and requiring Plaintiff to pay
the filing fee. See Ma, No. C19-0399-JCC, Dkt. No.
actions, like so much of his litigation conduct, are
intolerable, and provide an additional reason for why he
should not be allowed to proceed IFP in this case. For the
foregoing reasons, the Court ORDERS the following:
1. The Court ADOPTS Judge Peterson's report and
recommendation (Dkt. No. 9);
2. The Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's objections (Dkt. No.
3. The Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to strike (Dkt.
4. Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP is DENIED. Within 14
days of the issuance of this order, Plaintiff shall pay the
$400 filing fee. If Plaintiff fails to timely pay the ...