United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
JAMES L. SPICE, Plaintiff,
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT and ROBIN MOTELY, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
James Spice, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint [ECF No. 1]
against two Defendants: the Indiana Department of Workforce
Development (IDWD) and Robin Motely, a caseworker at IDWD. 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 WITHOUT PREJUDICE 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
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. 2008).
Plaintiff is attempting to sue the IDWD and one of its
employees under § 1983. The Plaintiff alleges that the
IDWD acted in violation of his 14th Amendment right to
procedural due process during the course of his application
for unemployment benefits.
state a claim for procedural due process, a plaintiff must
establish that he has been deprived of a protected liberty or
property interest, and that the deprivation occurred without
due process. See Black Earth Meat Market, LLC v. Village
of Black Earth, 834 F.3d 841, 848 (7th Cir. 2016)
(citing Pro's Sports Bar & Grill, Inc. v. City of
Country Club Hills, 589 F.3d 865, 870 (7th Cir. 2009)).
If the state provides a remedy for the deprivation, then to
state a claim, the plaintiff must allege that the available
state remedy is constitutionally inadequate. See Kauth v.
Hartford Ins. Co. of Ill., 852 F.2d 951, 955-56 (7th
Cir. 1988) (citing, among others, Daniels v.
Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 339-40 (1986) (Stevens, J.,
concurring) (“[A] complaint does not state a valid
procedural due process objection-and a valid § 1983
claim-if it does not include a challenge to the fundamental
fairness of the State's procedures.”)).
state remedy is available: Indiana law allows claimants to
appeal agency decisions to the Court of Appeals of Indiana.
Owen Cty. ex rel. Owen Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs v. Indiana
Dep't of Workforce Dev., 861 N.E.2d 1282
(Ind.Ct.App. 2007). The Plaintiff has not alleged that an
appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals would be
constitutionally inadequate, and has therefore failed to
state a claim.
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 August 13, 2018, to file an
amended complaint consistent with this Opinion and Order.
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). 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 August 13,
2018, the Court will direct the Clerk to close this case. The
Plaintiff may also pursue his claims in state court. See
Doe-2 v. McLean Cty. Unit Dist. No. 5 Bd. of Dirs., 593
F.3d 507, 513 (7th Cir. 2010).