United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
D. WOLSON, J.
civil case, Plaintiff Frantzceau Hyppolite is representing
himself and has filed a civil action against Long Island
University (“LIU”). He has filed an application
to be excused from paying a filing fee and therefore to
proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons stated
below, the Court grants leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. However, after reviewing the Complaint and
construing it liberally, the Court concludes that Mr.
Hyppolite has not stated a plausible claim, and it will
therefore dismiss the Complaint. However, the Court will
grant Mr. Hyppolite leave to file an amended complaint, if he
elects to do so.
Court accepts the facts in Mr. Hyppolite's complaint as
true and construes them liberally in recognition of his
status as a pro se plaintiff. In his Complaint, Mr.
Hyppolite alleges that he attended LIU and appears to
acknowledge that he owes the school money. He claims that the
school has hired a law firm to “freeze” his bank
account and that the school will not release his degree to
him. Mr. Hyppolite avers that he sent the law firm a
“verification letter to validate [his] debt, ”
but that he did not receive a response. (Compl. (ECF No. 2)
at § III.C.) He alleges that because LIU has frozen his
account, he cannot pay his bills, including his student
loans. He appears to request both damages and an order
directing LIU to release his degree. (Id. at §
STANDARD OF REVIEW
plaintiff seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis
must establish that he is unable to pay for the costs of his
suit. See Walker v. People Express Airlines, Inc.,
886 F.2d 598, 601 (3d Cir. 1989). Where, as here, a court
grants a plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, the Court must determine whether the complaint
states a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). That inquiry requires the court to
apply the standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Under that standard, the court must take all
well-pleaded allegations as true, interpret them in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, and draw all inferences in
his favor. See Kokinda v. Pa. Dept. of Corrections,
-- Fed. App'x --, 2019 WL 2577750, at * 2 (June 24,
2019). Moreover, because Mr. Hyppolite is proceeding pro
se, the Court must construe his pleadings liberally.
See Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d
Leave To Proceed In Forma Pauperis
Hyppolite has completed the form provided on the Court's
website for applications to proceed in forma
pauperis and has attested under penalty of perjury that
he cannot afford to pay the filing fees. (ECF No. 1.)
Moreover, his application to proceed in forma
pauperis demonstrates that he lacks the income or assets
to pay the required filing fees. Therefore, the Court will
grant him leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
Plausibility Of Claims In The Complaint
Complaint does not articulate a specific cause of action. The
Court can discern two possible claims in Mr. Hyppolite's
Complaint. First, Mr. Hyppolite might be complaining about
the way that LIU has attempted to collect the debt that it is
owed, which suggests a claim under the Fair Debt Collection
Practice Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.
(“FDCPA”). Second, Mr.
might be complaining that LIU breached a contract by
withholding his degree. As explained below, neither claim
could survive a motion to dismiss, at least as currently
Hyppolite has not stated a viable FDCPA claim because he has
not asserted a claim against a debt collector. Instead, he
has asserted a claim against a creditor, and the FDCPA does
not allow for such a claim. “The FDCPA provides a
remedy for consumers who have been subjected to abusive,
deceptive or unfair debt collection practices by debt
collectors.” Piper v. Portnoff Law Assocs.,
Ltd., 396 F.3d 227, 232 (3d Cir. 2005); see
also 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e, 1692f, 1692k.
“To state a claim under the FDCPA, a plaintiff must
allege, among other things, that the defendant is a debt