United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
CARI A. BART, Plaintiff,
KATIE MARIE LEGG, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge
matter is now before the Court on Plaintiff Cari A.
Bart's (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Leave to
Proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) and Motion to
Request Counsel (ECF No. 3). For the reasons stated herein,
the Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis is
DENIED and the Motion to Request Counsel is MOOT. The Court
also DISMISSES the case without prejudice for lack of subject
Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis
federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. §
1915, is designed to ensure that indigent litigants have
meaningful access to the federal courts. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). As a result, it
allows an indigent party to commence an action in federal
court, without costs and fees, upon submission of an
affidavit asserting an inability “to pay such costs or
give security therefor” and stating “the nature
of the action, defense or appeal and the affiant's belief
that he is entitled to redress.” § 1915(a). The
motion requires the Court to make two determinations. First,
the Court must decide whether Plaintiff is truly unable to
pay the filing fee associated with this case. Smith-Bey
v. Hosp. Adm'r, 841 F.2d 751, 757-58 (7th Cir.
1988). If Plaintiff is unable to pay the filing fee, then the
Court must then determine if the complaint is frivolous or
malicious. Id; § 1915.
Plaintiff's application indicated that she has no
dependents; however, her tax return reflects that she has
three dependents. (ECF No. 1-1). Plaintiff also alleged that
she needed her tax refund in order to obtain items for her
daughter that was born in July 2018. (ECF No. 1 at 6).
Additionally, Plaintiff stated that her take-home pay is
$312.00 per week, which totals approximately $1341.60
monthly. (ECF No. 2 at 1). Her monthly expenses are limited
to $575.00 for rent and she owns no property. Id. at
2. This would leave Plaintiff with $766.60
remaining. Nonetheless, Plaintiff stated the amount of money
she has in cash or in a checking or savings account is $0.00.
Id. As a result, the Court finds that the affidavit
lacks credibility and there is an insufficient basis to grant
in forma pauperis status to Plaintiff.
Sua Sponte Review of the Complaint
complaint filed by any person proceeding in forma
pauperis is subject to a mandatory sua sponte
review and dismissal by the court to the extent 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), courts use the
same standards that apply to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) motions. 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 773, 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 pleading by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to dismissal because as
pleaded, the Court lacks jurisdiction over it. First, the
Complaint provides no basis for federal question
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff
merely alleges that Defendant kept the tax refund from her
2017 filings and that Defendant filed a different copy of the
return than the one provided to Plaintiff. From this set of
alleged facts, the Court finds no reasonable inference that a
federal statute was violated. Additionally, Plaintiff left
the area blank under the section where she was required to
indicate the federal legal basis for her Complaint. (ECF No.
1 at 1). Even if Plaintiff was unsure, she could have checked
“unknown.” Second, if Plaintiff intended to
allege diversity jurisdiction, the Complaint fails to
properly invoke it. For diversity jurisdiction to exist,
there must be complete diversity of citizenship between the
parties and the amount of controversy must exceed $75,
000.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Plaintiff did not provide
any address for Defendant and does not allege that the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. (ECF No. 1 at 2).
Therefore, the Court lacks jurisdiction on this basis as
well. Accordingly, the Complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted and must be dismissed under
result of the foregoing, the Court also finds Plaintiff's
request for counsel moot.
reasons stated herein, the Motion for Leave to Proceed in
forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is DENIED and the Motion
to Request Counsel (ECF No. 3) is MOOT. The Court DISMISSES
the Complaint without prejudice for ...