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Mullenix v. Commissioner of Social Security

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


December 10, 2009

RONDA J. MULLENIX, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff Ronda Mullenix has filed suit against the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking judicial review of the agency's decision denying disability benefits (Doc. 1). Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Supporting Declaration (Doc. 2).

By granting a motion for pauper status, a court authorizes a lawsuit to proceed without prepayment of fees. For many years, federal district courts granted such motions if the movant was indigent and the complaint was neither frivolous nor malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), significantly changed the district court's responsibilities in reviewing pro se complaints and in forma pauperis motions. The Seventh Circuit has clarified that the PLRA "changed § 1915 not only for cases brought by prisoners, but in some respect for all indigent litigants." Hutchinson v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 1997). Under the PLRA, the Court must screen any indigent's complaint (those filed by prisoners and non-prisoners alike) and 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). Plaintiff's motion survives § 1915(e)(2) review. Plaintiff's Motion and Supporting Declaration adequately demonstrates Plaintiff's poverty status (Doc. 3). Further, the action appears to be neither frivolous nor malicious at this point. Thus, the Court cannot now conclude that the Complaint fails to state a claim or that the named Defendant is immune from suit.

Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2). The Court DIRECTS the Clerk's Office to prepare and issue the summons and the USM-285 forms for Defendant, the United States Attorney and the Attorney General and forward these documents. Once a summons is issued, the Court DIRECTS the United States Marshal to obtain service on same. Costs of service shall be borne by the United States of America. which, in turn, GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for Service of Process at Government Expense (Doc. 4).

IT IS SO ORDERED.

David R Her|do| Chief Judge United States District Court

20091210

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