United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, District Judge.
On January 8, 2014, the pro se Plaintiff, Robert Holland, filed a Complaint [ECF No. 1] and a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [ECF No. 2]. The Plaintiff has also filed a Motion to Strike the Appearances of the Counsel for Countrywide [ECF No. 8] and a Notice to the Court and Request for Ruling or Status [ECF No. 10]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and dismiss his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
A. Standard of Review
Ordinarily, a plaintiff must pay a statutory filing fee to bring an action in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). However, the federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, provides indigent litigants an opportunity for meaningful access to the federal courts despite their inability to pay the costs and fees associated with that access. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989). To authorize a litigant to proceed in forma pauperis, a court must make two determinations: first, whether the litigant is unable to pay the costs of commencing the action, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1); and second, whether the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon 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)(B).
Under the first inquiry, an indigent party may commence an action in federal court, without prepayment of costs and fees, upon submission of an affidavit asserting an inability "to pay such costs or give security therefor." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Here, the Plaintiff contends that he receives approximately $999 per month in social security payments, but that his average monthly expenses exceed that amount. He reports that he is unemployed, has approximately $50 cash on hand, and has no dependents. Based on this income information, although his annual income slightly exceeds the poverty guidelines threshold for a family of one, the Court finds that the Plaintiff is financially eligible for in forma pauperis status. See Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, 77 Fed. Reg. 3593 (Jan. 22, 2014).
The inquiry does not end there, however. District courts have an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen a complaint before service on the defendants, and must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Dismissal under the in forma pauperis statute is an exercise of the Court's discretion. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992). In evaluating whether a complaint is frivolous for purposes of the in forma pauperis statute, the Court need not "accept without question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations." Denton, 504 U.S. at 32-33. Instead, the statute "accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an undisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. This includes allegations that are "fantastic" or "delusional." Id. at 328.
B. History of this Plaintiff Before this Court
Notably, the Plaintiff has filed a number of cases before this Court making similar allegations and the Court has issued a number of rulings with regard to those cases. One particularly relevant prior ruling by this Court came in Holland v. City of Gary, Cause No. 2:12-CV-62-TLS. In that case, the Court found that:
the Plaintiff's allegations about a vast conspiracy involving his family members, officials from different towns, private hospitals, and multiple state court judges [are] in the vein of "fantastic" or "delusional, " warranting dismissal of the complaint as frivolous. See Neitzke [ v. Williams ], 490 U.S. [319, ] 325 ; Gladney v. Pendleton Corr. Facility, 302 F.3d 773 (7th Cir. 2002) (affirming dismissal of complaint as frivolous where the plaintiff alleged that over a span of three years, multiple guards at three different prisons left his cell door unlocked at night while he was sleeping so that other inmates could come in his cell and assault him); see also Schottler v. Wisconsin, 388 Fed.Appx. 547 (7th Cir. Jul. 28, 2010) (affirming dismissal of complaint as frivolous, where plaintiff alleged that someone had inserted a metal pin in his head and various state officials and police officers had purposely ignored his pleas for help); Lawrence v. Interstate Brands, 278 Fed.Appx. 681, 684 (7th Cir. May 22, 2008) ("Lawrence's allegations-that the Illinois legal system is controlled by the Ku Klux Klan and that a vast network composed of lawyers, judges, and his former employers have conspired over the past 20 years to deny him equal protection of the laws, harass him on the basis of his race, and defraud him-are frivolous under this standard.").
Holland v. City of Gary, No. 2:12-CV-62-TS, 2012 WL 974882, at *3 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 21, 2012). Moreover, the Court also found that some of the Plaintiff's allegations were malicious, were time-barred, were barred because of immunity or other reasons, and that the Plaintiff's diverse claims did not belong in one lawsuit. Id.
The Seventh Circuit agreed with this Court's analysis, stating that "a dismissal for frivolousness is qualitatively different than a dismissal for failure to state a claim. Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, which a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, a dismissal for frivolousness under § 1915 (the IFP statute) does not require a judge to accept fantastic or delusional factual allegations." Holland v. City of Gary, 503 F.Appx. 476, 477 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). Specifically, the Circuit held that this Court "did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Holland's allegations lacked any arguable basis in fact and that amendment would have been futile." Id. at 477-78.
Another important ruling of this Court came in Holland v. Lake Cnty. Mun. Gov't, No. 2:13-CV-179-TLS, 2013 WL 5230242 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 16, 2013). In that case, this Court denied the Plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed his case with prejudice under § 1915 for the very same reasons the Court dismissed the Plaintiff's case in Holland v. City of Gary. This ruling is particularly important to the matter before the Court because in the instant case the Plaintiff, in the process of once again presenting vast conspiracy claims against a large number of defendants, cites Cause Number 2:13-CV-179 as laying out the predicate acts to support his conspiracy claims in this matter. Since filing the ...