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Salvato v. Portland Housing Authority

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 17, 2019

LOUIS BRUCE SALVATO, Plaintiff
v.
PORTLAND HOUSING AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants

          ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND RECOMMENDED DECISION ON 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) REVIEW

          John H. Rich III United States Magistrate Judge.

         The pro se plaintiff, Louis Bruce Salvato, seeks in forma pauperis status in connection with his complaint against the Portland Housing Authority, its commissioners, and various individuals in their official capacities as employees of the Portland Housing Authority (collectively the “defendants”). Complaint for a Civil Case (“Complaint”) (ECF No. 1) at Page ID # 2; Application To Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs (“IFP Application”) (ECF No. 3). I grant the plaintiff's request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and recommend, following review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), that the court permit this case to proceed.

         I. Application To Proceed in Forma Pauperis

         In forma pauperis status is available under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). In his motion to proceed in forma pauperis, the plaintiff declares, under penalty of perjury, that he has a monthly disability income of $1, 091, no assets, and regular monthly expenses of $858. See IFP Application at [1]-[2]. These financial circumstances entitle him to proceed in forma pauperis, and his application is granted.

         II. Section 1915(e)(2)(B) Review

         A. Applicable Legal Standard

         The 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).

         “Dismissals [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. U.S. 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 provision.”).[1]

         When 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 (2007).

         Although 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. See, e.g., Butterworth v. United States, 775 F.3d 459, 469 (1st Cir. 2015).

         B. Factual Background

         So read, the plaintiff's complaint alleges the following:

         The plaintiff is one of the defendants' tenants. Complaint at Page ID ## 4-5. He is also disabled and receives Social Security ...


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