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Mina v. Muth

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 10, 2015

ANTHONY STOCKER MINA, Plaintiff,
v.
DAWSON R. MUTH, GOLDBERG, MEANIX, MUTH & MCCALLIN LAW FIRM, JUDGE HOWARD RILEY, and COURT REPORT HANDY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

EDWARD G. SMITH, District Judge.

This matter has come before the court on an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") and a motion for relief under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure filed by the pro se plaintiff. In the motion for relief, the plaintiff is essentially seeking relief from an order and judgment entered in a state-court civil action. Although it appears that the plaintiff is entitled to proceed IFP, his attempt to use Rule 60(b) to overturn a state-court civil order and judgment is wholly improper and, as such, the court grants the application to proceed IFP but denies the motion for relief.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action represents one of multiple actions filed by the pro se plaintiff, Anthony Stocker Mina, in September 2014.[1] On September 11, 2014, the plaintiff filed an application in this case to proceed in forma pauperis and a motion for relief from judgment. See Doc. No. 1. In the motion for relief, the plaintiff seeks relief from (1) a September 23, 2011 order entered by the Honorable Howard Riley of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, and (2) a November 15, 2011 praecipe for judgment of non pros. [2] See Motion for Relief from J. at ¶¶ 3, 4 & Ex. A. It appears that the order and the praecipe generally relate to the plaintiff apparently failing to file certificates of merit in an underlying state-court action, Mina v. Muth, No. 10-3366 (C.P. Chester), as required by Rule 1042 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. See id. at Ex. A.

II. DISCUSSION

As the plaintiff has sought to proceed IFP, the court will address the application to proceed IFP before addressing the merits of the motion for relief.

A. The IFP Motion

Regarding applications to proceed in forma pauperis, the court notes that

any 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 possesses that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). When addressing applications to proceed in forma pauperis under section 1915, district courts undertake a two-step analysis: "First, the district court evaluates a litigant's financial status and determines whether [he or she] is eligible to proceed in forma pauperis under § 1915(a). Second, the court assesses the [action] under § 1915[(e)(2)] to determine whether it is frivolous." Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 n.1 (3d Cir. 1990) (citing Sinwell v. Shapp, 536 F.2d 15 (3d Cir. 1976) (alterations added)).[3]

Concerning the litigant's financial status, the litigant must establish that he or she is unable to pay the costs of suit. Walker v. People Express Airlines, Inc., 886 F.2d 598, 601 (3d Cir. 1989). Generally, where a plaintiff files an affidavit of poverty, the district court should accord the plaintiff a preliminary right to proceed in forma pauperis. Lawson v. Prasse, 411 F.2d 1203, 1203 (3d Cir. 1969) (citing Lockhart v. D'Urso, 408 F.2d 354 (3d Cir. 1969)).

Here, after reviewing the IFP Motion, it appears that the plaintiff is unable to pay the costs of suit. Therefore, the court grants the plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

B. Review Under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)

Because the court has granted the plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the court must engage in the second part of the two-part analysis and examine whether this action is frivolous or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii) (providing that "[n]otwithstanding 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-... (B) the action or appeal- (i) is frivolous or malicious; [or] (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted"). An action is frivolous under section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact, " Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), and is legally baseless if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory." Deutsch v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995). In ...


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