United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
J. Schwab District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PUPO LENIHAN United States Magistrate Judge.
respectfully recommended that Plaintiff's Complaint,
which was commenced in forma pauperis, be dismissed with
prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), as
frivolous, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted, and because it seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief.
Farrow (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed
this action alleging the Pennsylvania Department of Education
(“Defendant”) has denied Plaintiff the ability to
enroll in a postsecondary, junior college in Allegheny County
due to an alleged outstanding debt the Defendant is owed.
According to Plaintiff's Complaint, the Defendant is
continuing to bar Plaintiff from enrolling in a community
college until this debt is repaid. Plaintiff alleges she
attempted to contact the Defendant numerous times, but to no
avail. This has resulted in Plaintiff suffering emotional and
financial distress as she is forced to attend community
college outside Allegheny County. Plaintiff seeks damages in
the amount of $30, 000, consisting of: $5, 000 for the cost
of school, courses, and books; $5, 000 in travel expenses;
and $20, 000 in emotional distress.
avers the Court has federal question jurisdiction over this
matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which enables
individuals to file a civil action for the deprivation of
constitutional and federal statutory rights by persons acting
under color of law.
court must liberally construe the factual allegations of
Plaintiff's Complaint because pro se pleadings,
“however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (internal quotation omitted); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). In addition, the court
should “‘apply the applicable law, irrespective
of whether a pro se litigant has mentioned it by
name.'” Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683,
688 (3d Cir. 2002) (quoting Holley v. Dep't of
Veterans Affairs, 165 F.3d 244, 247-48 (3d Cir. 1999)).
Court must review Plaintiff's Complaint in accordance
with the amendments promulgated in the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (PLRA), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321
(1996). Although Plaintiff's claims do not appear to
arise from an incarceration, the amendments to the PLRA
codified as 28 U.S.C. § 1915 apply to non-incarcerated
individuals who have been granted in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) status. See Powell v. Hoover,
956 F.Supp. 564, 566 (M.D. Pa. 1997) (holding that federal in
forma pauperis statute is not limited to prisoner suits);
Floyd v. United States Postal Serv., 105 F.3d 274,
276 (6th Cir. 1997) (holding that non-prisoners have the
option to proceed in forma pauperis), superseded on other
grounds by Callihan v. Schneider, 178 F.3d 800
(6th Cir. 1997). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a), Plaintiff is eligible for and has been granted leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. Thus her allegations must be
reviewed in accordance with the directives provided in 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e).
to the case at bar is the authority granted to federal courts
for the sua sponte dismissal of claims in IFP proceedings.
Specifically, § 1915(e), as amended, requires the
federal courts to review complaints filed by persons who are
proceeding in forma pauperis and to dismiss, at any time, any
action that 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)(B). “[A] complaint . . . is frivolous
where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989); Hawkins v. Coleman Hall, C.C.F., 453 F.
App'x 208, 210 (3d Cir. 2011) (“An appeal is
frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or
fact.”) (citing Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325).
Thus, under § 1915(e)(2)(B), courts are
“authorized to dismiss a claim as frivolous where
‘it is based on an indisputable meritless legal theory
or where the factual contentions are clearly
baseless.'” O'Neal v. Remus, No.
09-14661, 2010 WL 1463011, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 17, 2010)
(quoting Price v. Heyrman, No. 06-C-632, 2007 WL
188971, at *1 (E.D. Wis. Jan. 22, 2007) (citing
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327)).
complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12
(b)(6) if it does not allege “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 554, 556 (2007) (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6)
standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
45-46 (1957)). The court must accept as true all allegations
of the complaint and all reasonable factual inferences must
be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Angelastro v. Prudential-Bache Sec., Inc., 764 F.2d
939, 944 (3d Cir. 1985). “To the extent that a
complaint filed in forma pauperis which fails to
state a claim lacks even an arguable basis in law, Rule
12(b)(6) and § 1915(d) both counsel dismissal.”
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328 (footnote omitted).