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Hines v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

December 2, 2016

EARNEST L. HINES, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
SOCIAL SERUCITY ADMINISTRATION DEFENDANT

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Michael T. Parker UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis [2]. Having considered the Plaintiff's submissions, the undersigned recommends that the Motion [2] be denied and that Plaintiff be directed to pay the filing fee.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed his complaint along with his Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis [2], which included income and asset information. The Court has sufficient information before it to evaluate Plaintiff's financial status.

         In making the IFP determination, the Court may consider the total monetary resources available to assist Plaintiff. “There is no absolute right to be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis in civil matters; rather it is a privilege extended to those unable to pay filing fees when the action is not frivolous or malicious.” Startti v. United States, 415 F.2d 1115, 1116 (5th Cir. 1969). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) is designed to provide access to federal courts for plaintiffs lacking the financial resources to pay any part of the statutory filing fees. See Barnes v. Secretary, Dept. of Treasury, 2010 WL 4220422 (S.D.Miss. Sept. 16, 2010). The Court must examine the Plaintiff's financial condition in order to determine whether the payment of fees would cause an undue financial hardship. Prows v. Kastner, 842 F.2d 138, 140 (5th Cir. 1988). “There is authority for the proposition that the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis in civil actions for damages should be allowed only in exceptional circumstances.” Williams v. Beau Rivage, 2009 WL 3431457 (S.D.Miss. 2009). “The granting or denying of in forma pauperis proceedings of a civil nature is left to the sound discretion of the District Court.” Id. (citing Willard v. United States, 299 F.Supp. 1175, 1177 (N.D. Miss. 1969)).

         A review of the financial information submitted reflects that Plaintiff receives $3, 400 per month from “D.A.V., ” presumably veteran's disability benefits. Thus, Plaintiff's annual income is approximately $40, 800. Plaintiff lists no dependents.

         Courts have utilized the applicable Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines to assess an applicant's financial condition.[1] The applicable poverty guideline for a single person household is $11, 880 annually.[2] Plaintiff's income far exceeds the poverty level.

         In his Motion, Plaintiff asserts that his expenses exceed his income. However, the sum of Plaintiff's separately listed monthly expenses is $3, 199.68, [3] which is $200.32 less than his monthly income. Additionally, Plaintiff owns a home valued at $117, 000 and a motor vehicle valued at $2, 500. Moreover, Courts have denied IFP applications even where the plaintiffs' expenses exceed their income. See Slaughter v. Vilsack, 2013 WL 1704909 (M.D. Ga. April 19, 2013). “Section 1915 is designed to protect those litigants who suffer true financial hardship, not those who are well-equipped to pay the filing fee but choose to allocate their resources in a different manner.” McCoy v. Colvin, 2013 WL 868682, at *1 (W.D. Ark. Mar. 7, 2013).

         Plaintiff's financial status should allow him to pay the filing fee in order to commence this action without undue hardship if given a reasonable amount of time to tender the requisite amount. Under the circumstances presented, Plaintiff should not be permitted to proceed at taxpayer expense.

         RECOMMENDATION

         Based on the foregoing, the undersigned recommends that:

1. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis [2] be DENIED,
2. Plaintiff be given sixty days (60) days to pay all of the costs associated with the filing of this lawsuit, and
3. Should Plaintiff fail to timely pay all of the costs associated with the filing of this lawsuit, this matter be dismissed without prejudice and without further notice.

         NOTICE OF ...


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