United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE.
Curtis, a plaintiff proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint [ECF
No. 1] against the Defendant Illinois Attorney General, Lisa
Madigan. 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).
begin, 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)(1). Here, the Plaintiff's Motion establishes that
he is unable to prepay the filing fee.
inquiry, though, does not end there. The Court must also 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).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), district courts have
the power 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 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.
Plaintiff alleged that the State of Illinois, through Lisa
Madigan, issued an instrument of public record known as
Illinois State file number 112-1985-620162 to the Plaintiff.
This instrument of public record bears an entity's name
in all caps, which is JEROME CURTIS. He now seeks declaratory
relief to understand the relationship between this instrument
of public record and himself. He has previously attempted to
contact Lisa Madigan through certified mail, but did not
receive a response.
Complaint does not, however, provide adequate notice for the
basis of Plaintiff's concern. The Complaint does not
include the “instrument of public record” to
which Plaintiff refers, nor does it describe what exactly
this instrument does, or is. Plaintiff also has not described
how the Attorney General of Illinois rather than the Illinois
Secretary of State, which maintains public records in
Illinois, will address his concerns. See About Us,
Office of the Ill. Sec'y of State,
cyberdriveillinois.com/aboutus/home.html (last visited Dec.
13, 2017). As such, Plaintiff has failed to adequately state
a claim upon which relief can be granted.
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 January 15, 2018, 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 describe factual details that explain how the
Defendant has injured the Plaintiff and how declaratory
relief will cure the Plaintiff's injury. Further, the
Plaintiff should, if possible, attach or describe the
instrument of public record to adequately provide notice to
the Defendant of its contents. 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 January 15,
2018, 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