United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
JAMES D. LEWIS, JR., Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS, and PATRICK KEANEY, Defendants.
ORDER, AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
JEREMIAH C. LYNCH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
James Lewis, appearing pro se, filed an application for leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. Lewis submitted a declaration
that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).
Because it appears he lacks sufficient funds to prosecute
this action IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Lewis's application
is GRANTED. This action may proceed without prepayment of the
filing fee, and the Clerk of Court is directed to file
Lewis's lodged Complaint as of the filing date of his
request to proceed in forma pauperis.
federal statute under which leave to proceed in forma
pauperis is permitted - 28 U.S.C. § 1915 - also requires
the Court to conduct a preliminary screening of the
allegations set forth in the litigant's pleading. The
applicable provisions of section 1915(e)(2) requires
dismissal of an action that is frivolous, fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Court will review Lewis's pleading to consider whether
any of his claims can survive dismissal under the provisions
of section 1915(e)(2), or any other provision of law. See
Huftile v. Miccio-Fonseca, 410 F.3d 1136, 1138, 1142
(9th Cir. 2005).
was a party to a civil action litigated in the Eastern
District of Oklahoma identified as 6:14-cv-00362-RAW. Lewis
alleges that in February, 2016, Patrick Keaney, Clerk of
Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, improperly filed
a document identified as No. 132 in the district court's
electronic filing system.
132, as acknowledged by Lewis, is an Order and Opinion issued
by the presiding judge in the case, United States District
Judge Ronald A. White.According to Lewis, the original document
132 was amended, but the amended Order and Opinion filed by
Clerk Keaney was improperly filed in the record as document
132. Lewis asserts that the actions of Clerk Keaney in filing
the amended Opinion and Order of Judge White under the same
docket number 132 effectively “hides” the
original from public view. Importantly, Lewis does not allege
Clerk Keaney was doing anything other than performing his
ministerial duties as directed by Judge White. In Lewis'
mind, Clerk Keaney's conduct constitutes negligence for
which the United States, acting through the Administrative
Office of the Courts is liable under the Federal Tort Claims
Act (“FTCA”) 28 USCA § 2671 et.
Lewis is flat wrong.
Lewis is proceeding pro se the Court must construe his
pleading liberally, and the pleading is held “to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers[.]” Haines v. Keener, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972). See also Nusku v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). Although the Court has authority to
dismiss a defective pleading pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
a district court should grant leave to amend even if no
request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines
that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the
allegation of other facts.
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th
Cir. 2000) (quoting Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d
494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995)).
asserts the United States, through Keaney's acts or
omissions, is liable under the provisions of the FTCA. The
FTCA waives the United States' sovereign immunity for
certain claims against it, and permits the imposition of
liability against the United States for negligence or
wrongful acts or omissions “in the same manner and to
the same extent as a private individual under like
circumstances[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 2674. Specifically,
FTCA claims are permitted “against the United States
[...] under circumstances where the United States, if a
private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance
with the law of the place where the act or omission
occurred.” 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1).
suggests Keaney and the United States are liable due to
Keaney failure to comply with the Case Management/Electronic
Case Files system rules or requirements. However, such rules
or requirements are not encompassed within the law of
Oklahoma where Keaney's act or omission occurred.