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Allen v. JP Morgan Chase

March 30, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge


On February 24, 2010, pro se plaintiff Janice Allen ("Allen") requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") in the filing of her class action complaint (Dkt. No. 1) against defendants JP Morgan Chase ("Chase"), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), John P. Rowe, Armernola P. Smith, and "other unnamed Jane or John Does." Allen filed a financial affidavit in support of her application for leave to proceed IFP. (Dkt. No. 4.) For the reasons explained below, Allen's application for leave to proceed IFP is denied. Allen also filed a motion for appointment of counsel (Dkt. No. 5) which is denied as moot.


Allen, a former employee of Chase, alleges in her pro se complaint that her employment was terminated by Chase on April 17, 2008 because she had "repeatedly requested her personnel file, believing that vital information was in fact being released to other non-qualifying agencies (persons)." (Compl. ¶ 4.) After Chase terminated her employment, Allen filed claims with the EEOC and IDHR. Allen alleges in her complaint that both the EEOC and IDHR failed to properly investigate her claims. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6, 15-16.) Allen seeks class certification in her complaint, as well as return of her "property (vital information), or a reasonable amount for the loss or misplacement;[w]ritten assurance from [Chase] that they will satisfy their duties in the near future; [r]easonable costs and attorney's fees [and] [s]uch other relief as this court deems as proper." (Id. ¶ 55.)


Requests to proceed IFP are reviewed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. To ensure that indigent litigants have meaningful access to the courts, § 1915 allows an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without paying the administrative costs of the lawsuit. Denton v. Hernandez,504 U.S. 25, 27 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1998). However, the court must deny a request to proceed IFP if (1) the allegation of poverty is untrue; (2) the action is frivolous; (3) the action fails to state a claim; or (4) the action seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Hutchinson v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 1997).

When evaluating whether a plaintiff has stated a claim in the context of an application for leave to proceed IFP, the court applies the same standard as that for a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Zimmerman v. Tribble, 226 F.3d 568, 571 (7th Cir. 2000). Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need only contain "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 "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While "detailed factual allegations" are not required, "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must state a facially plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

A claim is facially plausible when the "plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. A complaint must do more than allege facts that are merely consistent with an entitlement to relief; it must "raise the right to relief above the speculative level" and cross "the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitle[ment] to relief.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (alteration in original). In determining whether a plaintiff has set forth a claim for which relief may be granted, the court must "construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts alleged, and drawing all possible inferences in her favor." Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 529 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). However, "courts should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009) (interpreting Iqbal).


For the reasons detailed below, the court accepts Allen's allegations of poverty as true, but denies Allen's IFP application.

1. Allen's Allegations of Poverty

According to her affidavit Allen is currently unemployed. Her only disclosed source of income is public unemployment benefits distributed monthly in the amount of $541.00. Allen states she has only $68.00 in cash or account assets. Based on these facts, which the court accepts, the court finds that Allen is unable to pay the $350 civil filing fee in this case.

2. Allen's Allegations Against the Governmental Entities

Allen has alleged a Fifth Amendment claim based on the denial of a property interest without due process against both the EEOC and the IDHR. Specifically, Allen alleges that the EEOC and the IDHR denied her due process by failing to exhaust all avenues of investigation in regard ...

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