United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, CITY OF PITTSBURGH, and SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PITTSBURGH, Plaintiffs,
SANDRA STRADER and VANCE STRADER, Defendants,
CYNTHIA REED EDDY, United States Magistrate Judge.
before the court is a “Notice to Remove Sandra
Strader's Name from Removal Pleadings and All Other
Claims” (hereinafter, “Notice”). In the
Notice Defendant Vance Strader objects to the payment of the
mandatory filing fee.
13, 2018, defendants filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in
Forma Pauperis along with a Notice of Removal from the Court
of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. (ECF Nos. 1, 1-1). On
July 16, 2018, the court ordered that defendants to complete
and file with the clerk of court, an Application to Proceed
in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Long Form)
(AO 239), on or before August 6, 2018, or pay the filing fee
in full. (ECF No. 4). Instead, defendant Vance Strader filed
the instant Notice, construed by the court as a motion for
reconsideration. (ECF No. 5).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
standard for obtaining relief under Rule 59(e) is difficult
for Mr. Strader to meet. The purpose of a motion for
reconsideration is to “correct manifest errors of law
or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.”
Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v.
Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). “A
proper Rule 59(e) motion ... must rely on one of three
grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2)
the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct
a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest
injustice. Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669
(3d Cir. 2010) (citing North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA
Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir.1995). A
motion for reconsideration is not properly grounded on a
request that a court rethink a decision already made. See
Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F.Supp.
1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa.1993). Motions for reargument or
reconsideration may not be used “as a means to argue
new facts or issues that inexcusably were not presented to
the court in the matter previously decided.”
Brambles USA, Inc. v. Blocker, 735 F.Supp. 1239,
1240 (D. Del.1990).
the Court notes that defendants were required to submit a
complete Long Form AO 239 because they did not provide the
court with adequate information to determine if they qualify
for in forma pauperis status. Whether to grant or
deny a request to proceed in forma pauperis lies within the
sound discretion of the trial court. Jones v.
Zimmerman, 752 F.2d 76, 78 (3d Cir.1985). “[I]n
order for a court to grant in forma pauperis status, the
litigant seeking such status must establish that [she] is
unable to pay the costs of [her] suit.” Walker v.
People Express Airlines, Inc., 886 F.2d 598, 601 (3d
Cir.1989); See Freeman v. Edens, No. 07-12227 MLC,
2007 WL 2406789, at *1 (D. N.J. Aug.17, 2007) (citing
Thompson v. Pisano, No. 06-1817, slip op. at 1 (3d
Cir. Nov. 15, 2006) (alterations in the original)) (the
applicant bears the “burden to ‘provid[e] the
[court] with the financial information it need[s] to make a
determination as to whether [s]he qualifie[s] for in
forma pauperis status.'”).
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, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104
L.Ed.2d 338 (1989). Congress enacted the statute to ensure
that administrative court costs and filing fees, both of
which must be paid by everyone else who files a lawsuit,
would not prevent indigent persons from pursuing meaningful
litigation. Douris v. Middletown Twp., 293 Fed.Appx.
130, 131 (3d Cir. 2008) (not published) (citing Deutsch
v. United States, 67 F.3d 1080, 1084 (3d Cir.1995)).
Section 1915(a) allows a litigant to commence a civil or
criminal action in federal court in forma pauperis
by filing in good faith an affidavit stating, among other
things, that she is unable to pay the costs of the lawsuit.
Id. at 131-32 (citing Neitzke, 490 U.S. at
court's decision whether to grant in forma
pauperis status is based solely on the economic
eligibility of the plaintiff. See Sinwell v. Shapp,
536 F.2d 15, 19 (3d Cir. 1976). The court reviews the
litigant's financial statement, and, if convinced that he
or she is unable to pay the court costs and filing fees, the
court will grant leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
Deutsch, 67 F.3d at 1084 n. 5. Economic eligibility
does not require that a litigant subject herself to complete
destitution to maintain her lawsuit. See Jones v.
Zimmerman, 752 F.2d at 79.
for determining whether an individual may proceed without
prepayment of fees are flexible and take into consideration
many factors. United States v. Scharf, 354 F.Supp.
450 (E.D. Pa.1973). A supporting affidavit must state the
facts of the affiant's poverty with some degree of
particularity, definiteness, or certainty. United States
ex rel. Roberts v. Pennsylvania, 312 F.Supp. 1, 2
(E.D.Pa.1969); United States v. McQuade, 647 F.2d
938, 940 (9th Cir.1981). Inquiries about defendants'
financial information are material to determine their
financial status. Jeffery v. Kraft Foods Global,
Inc., Civ. No. 05 C 6458, 2007 WL 611277 (N.D. Ill. Feb.
22, 2007); see also Watson v. Washington Twp. of
Gloucester Cnty. Publ. Sch. Dist., Civ. No.
09-3650(RBK-JS), 2009 WL 2778282 (D. N.J. Aug.28, 2009)
(denying motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis where plaintiff failed to disclose spouse's
income sources and amounts); United States v.
Salemme, 985 F.Supp. 197, 201 (D. Mass.1997). In
addition, the court may consider other assets of the parties
in determining ability to pay the filing fee, including
equity in real estate. See Ireland v. Reliance Std. Life
Ins. Co., No. 97-0563-THE, 1997 WL 85008, at *1 (N.D.
Cal. Feb. 21, 1997) (plaintiff who was unemployed with no
money in bank account denied in forma pauperis
status because she had $60, 000 of equity in her home);
Doyle v. Warner Pub. Services, Inc., No. 87-C-4154,
1988 WL 67633, at * 1 (N.D.Ill. June 22, 1988) (plaintiff who
earned a “minimal amount” with $400 in the bank
denied in forma pauperis status in part because he
had home worth $50, 000 with no indication of amount of
equity in home); Failro v. Califano, 79 F.R.D. 12,
13 (M.D.Pa.1978) (plaintiff who earned $409 per month denied
in forma pauperis status because she owned home
worth $20, 000).
Strader has failed to demonstrate any of the necessary
grounds to warrant a reconsideration of the court's July
16, 2018 order. He objects to the mandatory filing fee
itself, on the grounds he “has a common law right to
the courts, and can't be charged a fee.” (ECF No. 5
at 1). This objection is overruled. He proposes in the
alternative that “[i]f the court is going to force me
to pay for my right to the court, I can only do instalments
of 3 months, 5 months, or 10 months.” (ECF No. 5 at 2).
The court makes no finding as to whether installment payments
are appropriate or permissible at this juncture. We cannot
rule on the request absent further financial information. The
parties are required to fully complete the long form
application to proceed in district court without prepaying
fees or costs (Form AO 239). The other option is to pay the
filing fee in full. For the above reasons, the court will
deny the motion for reconsideration.
THEREFORE, this 2nd day of August, 2018, it is hereby ordered
that the motion for ...