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Howard v. Lasalle Bank

November 24, 2008

DOUGLASS E. HOWARD, JR., PLAINTIFF
v.
LASALLE BANK AND THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane, Chief Judge United States District Court

(Chief Judge Kane)

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Plaintiff Douglass Howard, Jr.'s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 5.) For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Howard's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and for seeking monetary relief against defendants who are immune from such relief.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Douglass Howard, Jr., proceeding pro se, initiated the above-captioned action on September 3, 2008, with the filing of a complaint against LaSalle National Bank Association and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 1 at 1.) As Howard explains in the civil cover sheet, the gist of his claim is that the "courts in Pennsylvania failed to follow the law in both sales of property and against recovery appeals." (Doc. No. 1-2 at 1.) Accompanying the complaint was a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 2), which the Court subsequently struck for failure to include a statement of financial liabilities (Doc. No. 4). Howard filed the instant motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis on October 10, 2008.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

The in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is "intended to guarantee that no citizen shall be denied an opportunity to commence, prosecute, or defend an action, civil or criminal, 'in any court of the United States' solely because his poverty makes it impossible for him to pay or secure the costs." Adkins v. E. I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342 (1948) (citation omitted). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) provides, in pertinent part:

[A]ny court of the United States may authorize the commencement, prosecution or defense of any suit, action or proceeding, civil or criminal, or appeal therein, without prepayment of fees or security therefor, by a person who submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such prisoner*fn1 possesses that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).

In the courts of this circuit, leave to proceed in forma pauperis is based on a showing of indigence. Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 n.5 (3d Cir. 1995). In seeking such leave, a plaintiff must file an affidavit of poverty with the court, disclosing each and every source of income, financial account, or valuable property, as well as any regular expenses or outgo in support of dependent persons. The court then conducts a thorough review of the affidavit and, if it finds that the plaintiff is without sufficient resources to pay the costs and fees of the proceeding, grants the plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Id.

In his affidavit, Howard indicates that he is sporadically employed, having earned less than $50 in "royalties" within the past twelve months. (Doc. No. 5 at 2.) His only assets are an inoperable automobile and $20 in United States currency. (Id.) Howard further indicates that his student loans and credit card account are in default and that "bankruptcy is a possibility in [the] near term." (Id. at 3.) Based upon these representations, the Court finds that Howard is without sufficient resources to pay the costs and fees of the proceeding. Accordingly, the Court will grant Howard's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

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

Having determined that Howard is entitled to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is next required to assess the sufficiency of his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) prior to service of process. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Section 1915(e)(2) mandates that [n]otwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may ...


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