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Green v. Sperfslage

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

September 3, 2019

DAVANTE BENJAMIAH GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM SPERFSLAGE, MIKE HEINARCY, PAUL NEMMERS, TRACY DIEETH, SHAWN HOWARD, CARRIE CARSON, BENNY SAVALA, CO HAWKINGS, MATT EIVINS, DIMITRIUS BOWENS, AARON SHARR, DR. VRBA, and WARDEN WISE, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LINDA R. READE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court pursuant to the plaintiff's pro se application to proceed in forma pauperis (docket no. 1) and pro se complaint (docket no. 1-1).

         I. APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         The plaintiff did not submit the statutory filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) (requiring filing fee). In order for a court to authorize the commencement of an action without the prepayment of the filing fee, a person must submit an affidavit that includes a statement of all the assets the person possesses. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). In addition, a prisoner must submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint, obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner was or is confined. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2).

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, in Anamosa Iowa, Iowa, has submitted documents which substantially comply with those requirements. (See docket no. 1 at 1-4.). Because plaintiff does not have the assets necessary to pay the filing fee, his application (docket no. 1) is granted.

         However, even though the court deems it appropriate to grant the plaintiff in forma pauperis status, the plaintiff is required to pay the full $350.00 filing fee by making payments on an installment basis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); see also In re Tyler, 110 F.3d 528, 529-30 (8th Cir. 1997) (“[T]he [Prisoner Litigation Reform Act] makes prisoners responsible for their filing fees the moment the prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal.”). The full filing fee will be collected even if the court dismisses the case because it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks money damages against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         Here, plaintiff must pay an initial partial filing fee in the amount of twenty percent of the greater of his average monthly account balance or average monthly deposits for the six months preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Based on the documents that plaintiff submitted, the court finds that the initial partial filing fee is $5.39. (See docket no. 1 at 4). Plaintiff shall submit $5.39 by no later than one month from the date of this order. If the court does not receive payment by this deadline, the instant action shall be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) (permitting dismissal where a plaintiff either fails to prosecute or fails to respond to an order of the court); Hutchins v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, 116 F.3d 1256, 1259-60 (8th Cir. 1997) (explaining court's power to dismiss an action). If necessary, plaintiff may request in a written motion an extension of time to pay the initial partial filing fee.

         In addition to the initial partial filing fee, plaintiff must “make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The statute places the burden on the prisoner's institution to collect the additional monthly payments and forward them to the court. Specifically:

[a]fter payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner shall be required to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account. The agency having custody of the prisoner shall forward payments from the prisoner's account to the clerk of the court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 until the filing fees are paid.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). Therefore, after plaintiff pays in full the initial partial filing fee, the remaining installments shall be collected by the institution having custody of the plaintiff. The clerk's office shall send a copy of this order and the notice of collection of filing fee to the appropriate official at the place where the plaintiff is an inmate.

         II. INITIAL REVIEW STANDARD

         A pro se complaint must be liberally construed. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam); Smith v. St. Bernards Reg'l Med. Ctr., 19 F.3d 1254, 1255 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). However, the Court may dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant that is immune from a monetary judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) (requiring the Court to do an initial review of prisoner complaints).

         In reviewing a prisoner or in forma pauperis complaint, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless, they must be weighed in favor of the plaintiff. See Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). Pro se complaints, however, must allege sufficient facts to support the plaintiff's claim. Stone, 364 F.3d at 914. A claim is “frivolous” if it “lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); accord Cokeley v. Endell, 27 F.3d 331, 332 (8th Cir. 1994). In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), courts generally rely on the standards articulated pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6). Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997); see also Atkinson v. Bohn, 91 F.3d 1127, 1128-29 (8th Cir. 1996) (applying Rule 12(b)(6) standard to a dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), a court may review the complaint and dismiss sua sponte those claims that fail “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” Id. at 555., or that are premised on meritless legal theories or clearly lack any factual basis, see Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325.

         III. INITIAL ...


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