United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE.
Marshae Hyde, a Plaintiff proceeding without counsel, filed a
Complaint [ECF No. 1] on October 10, 2019. She also filed a
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [ECF No. 2]. For the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), and Plaintiff is GRANTED additional
time to amend her Complaint, accompanied either by the
statutory filing fee or another Motion to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis. If Plaintiff fails to amend her Complaint within
the time allowed, the Clerk of Court will be directed to
close this case without further notice to 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 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, 324 (1989)
(“The federal in forma pauperis statute,
enacted in 1892 and presently codified as 28 U.S.C. §
1915, is designed to ensure that indigent litigants have
meaningful access to the federal courts.”). To
authorize a litigant to proceed in forma pauperis, a court
must make two determinations: first, whether the litigant is
unable to pay the costs of commencing the action, 28 U.S.C.
§ 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, id. §
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, Plaintiff's motion establishes that
she is unable to prepay the filing fee.
inquiry does not end there, however. In assessing whether a
plaintiff may proceed in forma pauperis, 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 § 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 §
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 standard, 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). The 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In reviewing the complaint, a court
accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Tobey v. Chibucos, 890 F.3d 634, 645 (7th Cir.
case, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim
because she does not provide any notice of the factual basis
for seeking review of the Administrative Law Judge's
decision. Plaintiff submitted her Complaint on a standard
“Social Security Complaint” form made available
by the Court. Compl., ECF No. 1. Under the heading
“Claims and Facts, ” the form directs a plaintiff
to “[l]ist the errors made by the Social Security
Administration” and to “[e]xplain why the
decision of the Administrative Law Judge was wrong.”
Compl. at 2. However, Plaintiff's factual narrative does
not include any allegations about the errors made by the
Social Security Administration or why the Administrative Law
Judge's decision was wrong. In other words, Plaintiff
does not provide notice of the factual basis for arguing that
the Administrative Law Judge's decision to deny
Plaintiff's application for disability benefits was
erroneous and was not supported by substantial evidence in
the record. Plaintiff only provides information about
evidence that supports her claim of disability, which is also
required by the form.
even presuming all well-pleaded allegations to be true,
viewing the well-pleaded allegations in the light most
favorable to Plaintiff, and accepting as true all reasonable
inferences to be drawn from the allegations, Plaintiff's
factual allegations are not enough to raise Plaintiff's
right to relief above the speculative level. Therefore,
Plaintiff's request to proceed without prepayment of fees
is denied, and the Complaint is dismissed without prejudice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). This
dismissal is without prejudice because Plaintiff may be able
to cure the deficiencies in the Complaint.
on the foregoing, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis [ECF No. 2] and DISMISSES without
prejudice the Complaint [ECF No. 1] pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Plaintiff is granted up to and
including December 10, 2019, to file an amended complaint as
well as either a new Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis or
the filing fee. The Court DIRECTS Plaintiff to file with the
amended complaint the same attachments filed with the
original Complaint, which were the Notice of Decision,
proposed summons, and USM forms. Plaintiff is cautioned ...