United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, LaFayette Division
RUTH A. PETERSON, Plaintiff,
IU WHITE HEALTH, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
LOZANO, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on the Complaint (DE #1) and the
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (DE #2), both filed by
the plaintiff, Ruth A. Peterson, on December 8, 2017. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court:
DISMISSES the complaint (DE #1)
DENIES the motion for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis (DE #2);
GRANTS Plaintiff to and including
May 23, 2018, to file an amended complaint
along with payment of the filing fee; and
CAUTIONS Plaintiff that if she does not
respond by the deadline, this action is subject to
termination without further notice.
Peterson (“Plaintiff”) initiated this case by
filing a complaint (DE #1) and motion to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) (DE #2) on December 8,
2017. In her complaint, Plaintiff lists one defendant, IU
White Health (“IUWH”). Plaintiff indicates that
she is bringing her claims pursuant to Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17
(“Title VII”) and the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 to 634
(the “ADEA”). Plaintiff alleges that she was
unfairly terminated from her employment with IUWH on January
24, 2017, after being given one prior written warning in July
of 2016. She claims that she sent two letters to the director
of human resources requesting a written review of the
termination action but that she never received a response.
Plaintiff alleges that she feels she was discriminated
against on the basis of “gender (M and/or F) &
age.” (DE #1, p. 2.) She claims she has “stated
(3) adverse effects [sic] from an at-will employer indicating
cliché activity.” (Id.) Plaintiff
requests reimbursement of her “life policy of civil
displacement on 1/24/17 at the at will just cause rate of
times three, ” review of IUWH's employment
standards, and “equivalent employment at equivalent
rate of pay.” (Id. at 3.) She has attached her
Notice of Right to Sue Letter to the complaint, but not the
Charge of Discrimination form filed with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). In her motion
for IFP, Plaintiff, who is not married and does not support
any children, indicates that she is employed and receives
approximately $1, 600 per month. (DE #2, pp. 1-2.) She also
indicates that she has approximately $11, 000 in either cash
on hand or deposits in accounts, and the value of her real
estate, cars, jewelry, stocks, bonds, and other valuables is
approximately $80, 000. (Id. at 2.)
statute, 28 U.S.C. section 1915, allows an indigent plaintiff
to commence a civil action without prepaying the
administrative costs (e.g. filing fee) of the lawsuit. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1); see also Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 27 (1992). When presented with
an IFP application, the district court makes two
determinations: (1) whether the suit has sufficient merit;
and (2) whether the plaintiff's poverty level justifies
IFP status. See Denton, 504 U.S. at 27;
Smith-Bey v. Hosp. Adm'r, 841 F.2d 751, 757 (7th
Cir. 1988). The screening court must dismiss the complaint if
(a) the allegation of poverty is untrue, (b) the action is
frivolous or malicious, (c) the action fails to state a claim
upon which can be granted, or (d) the action seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
the financial prong of the analysis, the federal poverty
guideline for a household of one living in Indiana is $12,
140. Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, 83 Fed.
Reg. 2642-44 (Jan. 13, 2018). The annualized value of
Plaintiff's income alone is $19, 200, which is above the
federal poverty guideline. Thus, the Court finds that
Plaintiff is not financially eligible to proceed IFP in this
the sufficiency prong of the analysis, to determine whether
the suit states a claim upon which relief can be granted
under 28 U.S.C. section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), a court applies
the same standard as it would to a motion to dismiss filed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 611 (7th Cir. 2000).
In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court
must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and
view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Luevano v. WalMart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027
(7th Cir. 2013). To survive dismissal, a “complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A plaintiff
“must plead some facts that suggest a right to relief
that is beyond the ‘speculative level.'”
Atkins v. City of Chicago, 631 F.3d 823, 832 (7th
Cir. 2011). “This means that the complaint must contain
allegations plausibly suggesting (not merely consistent with)
an entitlement to relief.” Lavalais v. Village of
Melrose Park, 734 F.3d 629, 632-33 (7th Cir. 2013)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
VII prohibits employers from firing or otherwise
discriminating “against any individual with respect to
his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of
employment, because of such individual's race, color,
religion, sex, or national origin.” See 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000e-2(a)(1). The ADEA prohibits employers from
discriminating against an individual, who is at least forty
years old, on the basis of his or her age. See 29 U.S.C.
§ 623(a); 29 U.S.C. § 631(a).
To state a claim for disparate treatment based on gender, [a
plaintiff] must plausibly allege that ‘she was
subjected to intentional discrimination based on . . . her
gender.' Chaib v. Indiana, 744 F.3d 974, 981
(7th Cir. 2014). Thus, [she] must set out factual allegations
to show: (1) she is a member of a protected class, (2) she
was subjected to an adverse employment act, and (3) there is
a link between those two. See Martino v. W. & S. Fin.
Grp., 715 F.3d 195, 201-02 (7th Cir. 2013). However, the
Seventh Circuit has recently explained that the third of
these need not be set out with plausible factual allegations,
instead a plaintiff can rely on conclusory allegations that
the first and second are linked. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1028 (7th Cir. 2013); see
also Carlson v. CSX Transp., Inc., 758 F.3d 819 (7th
Cir.2014); Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074,
1084 (7th Cir. 2008); E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health
Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2007). . . .
The tests under the ...