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Cruz v. Segovia

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 3, 2018

JAMIE CRUZ, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
MYKELA SEGOVIA, and, JOSE SEGOVIA, Defendants.

          Magistrate Judge Schwab

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         It is hereby recommended that the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 1] be GRANTED.

         It is further recommended that this action be dismissed as legally frivolous in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The Clerk of Courts should be directed to close this case.

         II. REPORT

         A. Procedural History

         This civil rights action was received in this Court on February 15, 2018. Plaintiff filed a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis, but did not include the requisite institutional account statement.

         By Order dated February 26, 2018, this Court closed the case and directed that Plaintiff could reopen the matter by either pay the filing and administrative fees or filing a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis along with the institutional account statement. ECF No. 2.

         Plaintiff has submitted an institutional account statement in support of his original motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 3; ECF No. 4. The Clerk of Courts reopened this case. Presently pending before this Court is Plaintiff's motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

         B. Standards of Review

         1) The Prison Litigation Reform Act

         On April 23, 1996, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (hereinafter, “Act”), Pub.L.No. 104-134, was enacted to amend 28 U.S.C. §1915, which establishes the criteria for allowing an action to proceed without payment of costs. Section 1915(e) as amended, states in relevant part: “The court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that -- ... (B) the action or appeal --(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted...” A claim is frivolous if it: 1) is based upon an indisputably meritless legal theory and/or, 2) contains factual contentions that are clearly baseless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). A plaintiff has failed to allege a § 1983 claim if the court is satisfied “that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegation.” Hishon v. King & Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). This Court has discretion to dismiss frivolous or malicious in forma pauperis complaints under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989). The U.S. Supreme Court has instructed that § 1915 provides the Court with the authority “... to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. In fact, the statute not only empowers the court to screen out frivolous cases before the complaint is served, it actually encourages it. Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 195-96 (3d Cir. 1990).

         Evaluating motions to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is a two-step process. See id. at 194 n.1. “First, the district court evaluates a litigant's financial status and determines whether (s)he is eligible to proceed in forma pauperis under § 1915(a). Second the court assesses the complaint under [§ 1915(e)(2)] to determine whether it is frivolous.” Id. (internal citation omitted). Therefore, only after the district court grants the request to proceed in forma pauperis may it dismiss the complaint as legally frivolous. See Jackson v. Brown, 460 Fed.Appx. 77, 79 n.2 (3d Cir. 2012) (“As a procedural matter, therefore, the District Court should have addressed Jackson's [ in forma pauperis ] motion before dismissing the complaint as frivolous, rather than deny the [ in forma pauperis ] motion as moot after dismissal.”); Spuck v. Fredric, 414 Fed.Appx 358, 359 (3d Cir.2011) (“When a complaint is submitted along with an [ in forma pauperis ] application, the complaint is not deemed filed unless and until [ in ...


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