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Nichols v. Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas

April 3, 2008

TAMMY NICHOLS, PLAINTIFF
v.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Plaintiff Tammy Nichols's complaint (Doc. No. 1) and motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 2). In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Cumberland County Children & Youth Services improperly terminated her parental rights with respect to her oldest child (Doc. No. 1, at 1-2), and asks that Defendant Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas "give her a few more months" in which to prove her fitness as a parent. (Id., at 2.) For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss her complaint for failure to state a claim.

I. DISCUSSION

A. Proceedings In Forma Pauperis

The 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) (citation omitted). In the courts of this circuit, leave to proceed in forma pauperis is based upon a showing of indigence. Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 n.5 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 n.1 (3d Cir. 1990)).

A plaintiff seeking leave must file an affidavit of poverty with the court, disclosing every source of income, financial account, and valuable property, as well as the amount of any financial support of dependent persons. The court then conducts a thorough review of the affidavit and, provided it is satisfied that the plaintiff is without sufficient resources to pay the costs and fees of the proceeding, grants leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Id.

In her affidavit, Plaintiff indicates that she is employed at an hourly rate of $9.25, which equates to a monthly income of approximately $1,480. (Doc. No. 2, at 1.) Her sole asset is an eighteen-year-old automobile valued at $600, and her monthly expenses for rent and child support total $785. (Id., at 2.) Based upon these figures, the Court finds that Plaintiff is without sufficient resources to pay the costs and fees of the proceeding. Accordingly, the Court will grant Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

B. Merits Analysis Under 1915(e)(2)

Having determined that Plaintiff is entitled to proceed in forma pauperis, the court is next required to assess the sufficiency Plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) prior to service of process. Section 1915(e)(2) states:

Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that-

(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or

(B) the action or appeal-

(i) is frivolous or malicious;

(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may ...


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