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Pierce v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

March 18, 2019

MICHAEL PIERCE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM P. BARR, STATE OF INDIANA, and INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL CURTIS HILL, Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, SCREENING AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Michael Pierce's (“Pierce”) Non-Prisoner Request to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying the Filing Fee (Filing No. 2). Because he is allowed to proceed in forma pauperis, this action is also subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         I. DISCUSSION

         A. Filing Fee

         Pierce's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, without prepaying fees or costs (Filing No. 2) is granted. While in forma pauperis status allows a plaintiff to proceed without pre-payment of the filing fee, the plaintiff remains liable for the full fees. See Robbins v. Switzer, 104 F.3d 895, 898 (7th Cir. 1997) (in forma pauperis litigants remain liable for the filing fee; “all [28 U.S.C.] § 1915(a) does for any litigant is excuse the pre-payment of fees”). The Court does not have the authority to waive the filing fee, and it remains due despite Pierce's in forma pauperis status. Fiorito v. Samuels, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84869, at *5 (C.D. Ill. June 30, 2016) (“[c]ourt does not have the authority to waive a filing fee”); McDaniel v. Meisner, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106067, at *12 (E.D. Wis. Aug. 12, 2015) (same). The filing fee for in forma pauperis litigants is $350.00. No. payment is due currently; however, the $350.00 balance remains owing.

         B. Screening

         District courts have an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen complaints before service on the defendant and must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Dismissal under the in forma pauperis statute is an exercise of the court's discretion. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992). In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the court applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal under federal pleading standards,

[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Thus, a “plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest that something has happened to her that might be redressed by the law.” Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original).

         C. The Complaint

         In this civil action, pro se plaintiff Pierce asserts general grievances against the defendants-United States of America, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr, State of Indiana, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill-concerning various federal, state, and international laws and treaties regarding chronic pain, pain management, and health privacy. In seeking relief, Pierce asks this Court to “end abuses by the Federal and State governments and respective agencies, to the Constitution and Bill of Rights and the laws of the United States of America.” (Filing No. 1 at 1.) Pierce requests that “all Americans be allowed to join this litigation . . . . This request is essential considering the multitude of innocent Americans suffering from these archaic policies and everyone deserves the opportunity to redress grievances against the government.” Id. at 19.

         For his Complaint, Pierce cites to numerous constitutional amendments, federal statutes, and case law. He also provides historical context to various statutes while generally discussing chronic pain, pain management, and the government's involvement in regulating prescription drugs and health care.

         D. Dismissal of Complaint

         It does not appear that this Court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the general grievances that Pierce has presented. “Courts . . . have an independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006). A court “must raise the issue sua sponte when it appears that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking.” Buethe v. Britt Airlines, 749 F.2d 1235, 1238 (7th Cir. 1984); see also Evergreen Square of Cudahy v. Wis. Hous. & Econ. Dev. Auth., 776 F.3d 463, 465 (7th Cir. 2015) (“federal courts are obligated to inquire into the existence of jurisdiction sua sponte”). “When a federal court concludes that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety.” Arbaugh, 546 U.S. at 514, qu ...


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