United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND
RECOMMENDED DISMISSAL OF CASE, MOOTING PLAINTIFF'S
H. Rich III United States Magistrate Judge.
se defendant Olanian Jackson seeks in forma
pauperis status in connection with his notice of removal
of a Maine state court forcible entry and detainer
(“FED”) action. See Notice of Removal
(ECF No. 1); Application To Proceed in District Court Without
Prepaying Fees or Costs (“IFP Appl.”) (ECF No.
3). In addition, the plaintiff has filed motions to
substitute parties and to dismiss this case. See
Motion To Substitute Parties (ECF No. 11); Motion To Dismiss
(ECF No. 12). For the reasons that follow, I grant the
defendant's request for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and recommend that the court (i)
dismiss this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) and (ii) deem the plaintiff's motions to
dismiss and to substitute parties moot.
Application To Proceed in Forma Pauperis
forma pauperis status is available under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1). In his application to proceed in forma
pauperis, the defendant declares, under penalty of
perjury, that he has monthly income of $994 in Social
Security disability payments, $25 in cash or in a checking or
savings account, regular monthly expenses totaling $1,
071.90, and a 1999 Jeep Cherokee worth $500. See IFP
Appl. These financial circumstances entitle him to proceed
in forma pauperis, and his application is granted.
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). Actions removed by pro
se plaintiffs or defendants from state court to federal
court also are subject to section 1915(e)(2)(B) review.
See, e.g., Wells Fargo Bank NA v. Carr, Civil Action
No. 18-9066 (JLL), 2018 WL 2192715, at *1 (D.N.J. May 14,
2018) (removal of state court action by defendant);
Grantham v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, No.
5:14-CV-00485-BR, 2015 WL 3618617, at *1 (E.D. N.C. June 9,
2015) (removal of state court action by plaintiff).
case commenced on June 12, 2017, with the filing by the
plaintiff landlord of an FED action in the Maine District
Court to evict the defendant from his apartment on the bases
that he had:
(1) used the apartment for unlawful purposes or engaged in
unlawful activities in the unit by growing and possessing
marijuana; (2) refused access to the bedroom in the apartment
used as a marijuana grow room; (3) installed a lock on the
bedroom without permission; (4) threatened physical harm to
property staff seeking to inspect the bedroom; (5) smoked
marijuana in his apartment in violation of a no smoking
policy; and (6) grew and possessed marijuana in violation of
a zero tolerance drug policy.
Sherwood Assocs. LP v. Jackson, 2019 ME 17,
¶¶ 5-6, copy attached as ECF No. 1-5 to Notice of
Maine District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff,
determining that the defendant had violated his lease by
refusing access to the unit, placing a lock on a part of the
unit without written permission, intimidating staff, and
possessing marijuana in the unit. See id. ¶ 6.
The court further found that the notice to quit served upon
the defendant was legally sufficient and that there was no
evidence of retaliation or discriminatory practices on the
landlord's part. See id.
defendant appealed that decision to the Maine Superior Court,
which determined that his affidavit “did not raise a
genuine issue of material fact that would entitle him to a
jury trial and that he had not properly raised any errors of
law.” Id. ¶¶ 7-8. After the Maine
Superior Court denied two requests for reconsideration, the
plaintiff, represented by new counsel, appealed to the Law
Court. See id. ¶ 8.
decision dated January 29, 2019, the Law Court affirmed the
judgment of the Superior Court, holding that (i) the evidence
was sufficient to support the FED judgment, (ii) the
plaintiff landlord provided proper notice to quit the
premises, and (iii) there were sufficient bases for the
termination of the lease for material noncompliance with its
terms apart from the defendant's possession of marijuana,
as a result of which the Law Court did not reach the question