United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE.
Matter before the Court is on the Plaintiff Jerome
Curtis' Complaint [ECF No. 6] and Motion for Leave to
Proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 7], both filed on July 24,
March 31, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a “Bill in
Equity” [ECF No. 1], Petition to Seal [Id.],
and corresponding notice to the Clerk of the Court
[Id.] on May 31, 2017. He also filed a Motion to
Proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2] on the same date. On
June 2, 2017, the Magistrate Judge in an Opinion and Order
[ECF No. 3] denied the Plaintiff's Petition to Seal. On
June 12, the Plaintiff filed a new Petition to Seal [ECF No.
4]. In his Bill in Equity, the Plaintiff claimed to be a
“a non-survey, non-quasi-trustee, Private American
National Citizen of the United States, whose private
individual citizenship status is protected by Section one of
the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United
States.” Inferring from this, it appeared he claimed to
be a “sovereign citizen.” Because the Plaintiff
did not submitted a complaint, his Bill in Equity was struck,
and his Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis was denied [ECF
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 (IFP) 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 IFP, 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. Id. §
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 fees or give security therefor.” Id.
§ 1915(a). Here, the Plaintiff's Motion establishes
that he is unable to prepay the filing fee.
inquiry does not end there. District courts have the power
under § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen complaints even before
service of the complaint on the defendants, and must dismiss
the complaint if it fails to state a claim. Rowe v.
Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999). Courts apply
the same standard under § 1915(e)(2)(B) as when
addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1018, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013).
state a claim under the federal notice pleading standards, a
complaint must set forth a “short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations are
accepted as true and need only give “fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc.,
496 F.3d 773, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). However, a
plaintiff's allegations must show that his entitlement to
relief is plausible, rather than merely speculative.
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir.
the Plaintiff has now filed a complaint, he has not stated a
cause of action. In the Complaint, Mr. Curtis states that the
Defendant did not perform or respond to a “private
expressed trust.” (Compl. 2, ECF No. 6.) In the
preceding paragraphs, the Plaintiff again uses language about
his rights as a sovereign citizen. As the Court stated in its
prior Order, self-proclaimed sovereign citizens “assert
that the federal government is illegitimate and insist that
they are not subject to its jurisdiction.” United
States v. Jonassen, 759 F.3d 653, 657 n.2 (7th Cir.
2014). The Seventh Circuit has “repeatedly rejected
such claims.” Bey v. Indiana, 847 F.3d 559,
560 (7th Cir. 2017).
Defendant has not been provided notice as to what the claims
are and the grounds on which they rest. “To form a
defense, a defendant must know what he is defending against;
that is, he must know the legal wrongs he is alleged to have
committed and the factual allegations that form the core of
the claims asserted against him.” Standard v.
Nygren, 658 F.3d 792, 799 (7th Cir. 2011). The
Plaintiff's Complaint is also deficient because it does
not “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.” Kolbe & Kolbe Health & Wealthfare
Benefit Plan v. Med. Coll. of Wis. Inc., 657 F.3d 496,
502 (7th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed and his request to
proceed without prepayment of fees is denied. The Court does
not see how the Plaintiff in an amended complaint could set
forth facts sufficient to state a cause of action that is
plausible on its face. “When a complaint fails to state
a claim for relief, the plaintiff should ordinarily be given
an opportunity, at least upon request, to amend the complaint
to correct the problem if possible.” Bogie v.
Rosenberg, 705 F.3d 603, 608 (7th Cir. 2013).
“Leave to amend need not be granted, however, if it is
clear that any amendment would be futile.” Id.
(citing Garcia v. City of Chi., 24 F.3d 966, 970
(7th Cir. 1994)). The Plaintiff has already been granted one
opportunity to submit a proper complaint, and it has proven
futile. Accordingly, the Court denies the Motion to Proceed
In Forma Pauperis and dismisses the Complaint with prejudice.
foregoing reasons, the Court DISMISSES WITH PREJUDICE the
Complaint [ECF No. 6] and DENIES the Plaintiff's Motion