United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND
RECOMMENDED TRANSFER OF ACTIONS
H. Rich III, United States Magistrate Judge
plaintiff has filed four separate suits against either the
City or the County of Montgomery, Alabama and various
individuals. See [Complaint] (ECF No. 1), No.
2:17-cv-00325-JDL (“Montgomery I”);
[Complaint] (ECF No. 1), No. 2:17-cv-00326-JDL
(“Montgomery II”); [Complaint] (ECF No.
1), No. 2:17-cv-00327-JDL (“Montgomery
III”); [Complaint] (ECF No. 1), No.
2:17-cv-00329-JDL (“Montgomery IV”). I
grant his requests in each case for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis, but because venue does not properly lie
in this District, I recommend that the court transfer all
four cases to the United States District Court for the Middle
District of Alabama.
Application To Proceed in Forma Pauperis
forma pauperis status is available under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1). In three of his applications to proceed
without prepaying fees or costs, the plaintiff reports total
monthly income of $753.00, consisting of $216.00 in
Supplemental Security Income payments and $537.00 in Social
Security payments. See ECF No. 3, Montgomery
I; ECF No. 2, Montgomery II; ECF No. 3,
Montgomery IV. In his remaining application, he
reports total monthly income of $737.00, consisting of
$200.00 in Supplemental Security Income payments and $537.00
in Social Security payments. See ECF No. 2,
Montgomery III. In all four applications, he reports
monthly expenses totaling between $500.00 and $600.00,
including $300.00 for rent and $200.00 for groceries,
indicates that he has $100 in cash or in a checking or
savings account and no other assets of value, and lists no
dependents. See ECF No. 3, Montgomery I;
ECF No. 2, Montgomery II; ECF No. 2, Montgomery
III; ECF No. 3, Montgomery IV. These financial
circumstances entitle him to proceed in forma
pauperis and, accordingly, I grant his petitions to
proceed in forma pauperis in all four cases.
Section 1915(e)(2)(B) Review
Applicable Legal Standard
federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. §
1915, is designed to ensure meaningful access to the federal
courts for those persons unable to pay the costs of bringing
an action. When a party is proceeding in forma
pauperis, however, “the court shall dismiss the
case at any time if the court determines[, ]” inter
alia, that the action is “frivolous or
malicious” or “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).
[under § 1915] are often made sua sponte prior
to the issuance of process, so as to spare prospective
defendants the inconvenience and expense of answering such
complaints.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 324 (1989); see also Mallard v. United States Dist.
Court S.D. Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08 (1989)
(“Section 1915(d), for example, authorizes courts to
dismiss a ‘frivolous or malicious' action, but
there is little doubt they would have power to do so even in
the absence of this statutory
considering whether a complaint states a claim for which
relief may be granted, a court must assume the truth of all
well-plead facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all
reasonable inferences therefrom. Ocasio-Hernández
v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir.
2011). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
a pro se plaintiff's complaint is subject to
“less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted
by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972), this is “not to say that pro se plaintiffs
are not required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a
claim[, ]” Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888,
890 (1st Cir. 1980). To allege a civil action in federal
court, it is not enough for a plaintiff merely to allege that
a defendant acted unlawfully; a plaintiff must affirmatively
allege facts that identify the manner in which the defendant
subjected the plaintiff to a harm for which the law affords a
remedy. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
As noted, the statute that provides for waiver of the filing
fee also requires the court to determine whether the
plaintiff's case may proceed. In other words, the
plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed if the court
finds it to be frivolous or malicious, seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief, or fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). In this regard, a pro se
plaintiff's complaint must be read liberally. Donovan
v. Maine, 276 F.3d 87, 94 (1st Cir. 2002).
plaintiff, who lists a Montgomery, Alabama, address, alleges
that he was subjected to a series of unlawful detentions in
that city by City of Montgomery police officers or County of
Montgomery sheriffs from August 2, 1999, through November 25,
2016. See Complaint, Montgomery I
(detention by two Montgomery police officers on Madison
Avenue in Montgomery on or about November 25, 2016);
Complaint, Montgomery II (detention by Montgomery
police officers at South Lawrence and Monroe streets in
Montgomery on or about November 9, 2016); Complaint,
Montgomery III (detentions by Montgomery police
officers at various locations in Montgomery, including
Interstate 85, on or about October 27, 2015, July 27, 2015,
June 19, 2015, and March 4, 2015); Complaint, Montgomery
IV (detentions and abductions by Montgomery County
sheriff's officers at various locations in Montgomery on
or about August 2, 1999, August 9, 1999, August 11, 1999,
December 19, 2002, and December 23, 2002).
of whether the allegations of the four complaints state
viable claims - a matter on which I express no opinion - they
reveal no jurisdictional nexus between any party to this suit
and Maine. The plaintiff, who lives in Montgomery, Alabama,
sues the City and the County of Montgomery, Alabama, and
individuals who apparently reside there, for conduct that
occurred there. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391, which
“govern[s] the venue of all civil actions brought in
district courts of the United States[, ]” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391(a)(1), a civil action may be brought in:
(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if
all defendants are residents of the State in which ...