United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
DEANGELO L. HATCH, Plaintiff,
THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SERVICES, et al. Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
L. Hatch, a Plaintiff proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint
[ECF No. 1] against Defendants, the Indiana Department of
Child Services, Chrystal Graham, Jennifer Fletcher, and
Louise Dietzer. He also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed
in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2]. For the reasons set
forth below, the Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED. The
Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), and he is GRANTED additional time
to amend his Complaint, accompanied either by the statutory
filing fee or another Petition to Proceed Without Pre-Payment
of Fees and Costs. If the Plaintiff fails to amend his
Complaint within the time allowed, the Clerk will be directed
to close this case without further notice to the Plaintiff.
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, §
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, § 1915(e)(2)(B).
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, however. In assessing whether a
plaintiff may proceed IFP, a court must look to the
sufficiency of the complaint to determine whether it can be
construed as stating a claim for which relief can be granted
or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief. Id. § 1915(e)(2)(B). District
courts have the power under 28 U.S.C. § 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 28 U.S.C.
§ 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
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.
basis for the Plaintiff's suit appears to be as follows:
the Indiana Department of Child Services (“DCS”),
and some of its employees violated his rights by taking
custody of his minor daughter from her mother instead of
transferring custody to the Plaintiff. However, the Plaintiff
does not state which statutory or constitutional rights he
believes that the Defendants violated, and the Court is
unable to determine any specific cause of action based on his
allegations. Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction and
may adjudicate claims only if the Complaint alleges violation
of a federal statute or of the Plaintiff's constitutional
rights or if the Complaint meets diversity requirements,
which require that each Defendant reside in a different state
than the Plaintiff and that the Plaintiff seeks damages in
excess of $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332.
Because all parties reside in Indiana and the Plaintiff has
not requested monetary relief, the diversity requirements are
not met. Therefore, for the Court to have jurisdiction over
his claim, the Plaintiff must allege that the Defendants
violated either his statutory or constitutional rights. This
he has not done.
the aforementioned, the Plaintiff's request to proceed
without prepayment of fees is denied, and the Complaint is
dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The
Court grants the Plaintiff until October 2, 2017, to file an
amended complaint. See Luevano, 722 F.3d at 1022
(stating that a litigant proceeding under IFP statute has the
same right to amend a complaint as fee-paying plaintiffs
have). When drafting his amended complaint, the Plaintiff
should specify which federal statute or which of his
constitutional rights he believes that the Defendants
violated and specifically state what each Defendant did to
violate those rights, including the date(s) such violation(s)
happened. Along with an amended Complaint, the Plaintiff must
also file a new Petition to Proceed Without Prepayment of
Fees and Costs or pay the filing fee.
Plaintiff does not file an amended complaint by October 2,
2017, the Court will direct the Clerk to close this case.
foregoing reasons, the Court:
(1) DENIES the Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed
in forma ...