United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
ORDER & OPINION
BILLY McDADE United States Senior District Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Joyce Lane's
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2). For
the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is granted
and Plaintiff may proceed in forma pauperis.
Court grants Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma
pauperis. Title 28 U.S.C. § 1915 provides that a civil
proceeding may proceed without prepayment of the filing fee.
Our Appellate Court has held that “[t]he privilege to
proceed without [paying] costs and fees is reserved to the
many truly impoverished litigants who, within a district
court's discretion, would remain without legal remedy if
such privilege were not afforded to them.” Brewster
v. North Am. Van Lines, Inc., 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th
Cir. 1972). In support of her Motion, Plaintiff states under
the penalty of perjury that she has an income of $1, 600 per
month and expenses of $1, 146. (Doc. 2 at 1-2). She also
states that she has about $1, 200 in her checking or savings
account; but also that she owes about $9, 245 in outstanding
debts. Based on Plaintiff's submission, the Court
concludes that she is entitled to proceed in forma pauperis.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the complaint of a plaintiff
seeking to proceed in forma pauperis must be dismissed if it
is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). When evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has
stated a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B) de novo, courts use
the same standards as that which apply to Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissals. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722
F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). Therefore, the court will
take “all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as
true and view[ ] them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Id. (citing Arnett v. Webster,
658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011). A plaintiff need only give
“‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.'” EEOC v.
Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 733, 776-77 (7th
Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Furthermore, a pro se complaint is to
be construed liberally and held to “less stringent
standards than a formal pleadings by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). At this
stage of the litigation, the Court does not find that
Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed.
alleges that Putnam County Sheriff's Department, William
Mucci, and David Leigh violated her rights under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 by depriving her of her property and evicting her
from home without due process of the law. Section 1983 states
“[E]very person who, under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . .
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured . . . .”
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Therefore, in order to state a §
1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege a “violation of a
right secured by the constitution and laws of the United
States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.”
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Additionally, while a private citizen cannot ordinarily be
held liable under a § 1983 claim, if a private citizen
“conspires with a state actor, then the private citizen
is subject to Section 1983 liability.” Brokaw v.
Mercer Cty., 235 F.3d 1000, 1016 (7th Cir. 2000).
county sheriff's department is a suable entity under
§1983. Ruffino v. Sheahan, 218 F.3d 697, 700
(7th Cir. 2000) (citing Scott v. O'Grady, 975
F.2d 366, 370 (7th Cir. 1992)). In order to state a §
1983 against a governmental entity, plaintiff must allege
that its actions amount to an “official custom or
policy.” City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S.
378, 387 (1989). A municipality may also be liable under
§ 1983 if the alleged actions reflect a “practice
of state officials so permanent and well settled as to
constitute a ‘custom or usage' with the force of
law.” Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658, 691 (1978). An official policy or custom may be
proven via three methods: (1) an express policy of the
municipality, (2) a practice that is so widespread and
permanent that it is considered a custom or usage of the
municipality, or (3) the actor is a person with final
policymaking authority in the municipality. Wragg v.
Vill. of Thornton, 604 F.3d 464, 468 (7th Cir. 2010)
(internal citations omitted). Additionally, when alleging a
Monell claim, a plaintiff need only meet the usual
pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a); plaintiff does
not need to meet a heightened standard. Johnson v. City
of Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (reaffirming
Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics Intelligence and
Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993)).
stage of the litigation, the Court finds that Plaintiff has
alleged the minimum required for alleging a § 1983
claim. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Leigh changed the
locks on her house and added a padlock without her
permission. (Doc. 1 at 5). Plaintiff alleges that the Putnam
County Sheriff's Department made no report of the changed
locks and told her to “just ‘break in the house
if it was [hers].'” Id. Plaintiff then
alleges that Defendant Mucci reported her breaking into the
house, which he claimed was his. Id. Deputy
Kepinski, of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, then
removed her belongings from the house without a court
eviction order. Id. Plaintiff claims that Defendants
Leigh and Mucci gave Kepinski a key to her house to allow him
to remove her possessions. Id. Plaintiff needed only
to assert facts sufficient to give the defendants notice of
the claims. Plaintiff has done just that. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that a municipal actor has conspired with
private parties to deprive her of her property and evict her
from her home without due process. Id. The Court
cannot currently find that the Plaintiff's Complaint
should be dismissed.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2) is GRANTED. Plaintiff has
met the requirements to state a claim against Defendants
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Court directs the Clerk to prepare a summons and copy of the
Complaint for the United States Marshal, who is DIRECTED to
serve it on Defendants in ...