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Camacho v. Cherokee Health Systems

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

October 19, 2016

ISABEL CAMACHO, Plaintiff,
v.
CHEROKEE HEALTH SYSTEMS, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         This case comes before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and the Rules of this Court for consideration of Plaintiff's Motion and Application To Proceed In Forma Pauperis, which has been filed in the above case on September 29, 2016. The undersigned files this Report and Recommendation for the District Judge to whom this case is assigned. For the reasons more fully stated below, the Court finds that the Plaintiff should be allowed to file her Complaint without prepayment of costs, but the Court RECOMMENDS that the Complaint be DISMISSED for jurisdictional deficiencies and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         I. FILINGS AND ALLEGATIONS

         The Plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, with the required detailing of her financial condition. The application demonstrates that the Plaintiff has little income and no assets.

         In her Complaint, filed on September 29, 2016, the Plaintiff alleges that a medical doctor at Cherokee Health Systems “failed to notify” her of a decrease in her thyroid medication prescription. She claims that this alleged failure violates “HIPPA”.[1] Plaintiff's demand for relief is (1) additional testing and (2) “give patient reason why drastic decease and cancer screening.” There is no claim for monetary relief.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Jurisdiction

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Congress has conferred upon this Court, and other federal courts, the jurisdiction to hear only two types of civil cases: those arising under the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and those cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 and the parties are diverse, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         The Plaintiff has alleged a cause of action arising out of a law of the United States, HIPAA, although as explained below, she has not stated a claim.

         B. Indigency and Failure to State a Claim

         In addition to federal jurisdiction standards, applications to proceed in forma pauperis are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The purpose of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is to ensure that indigent litigants have meaningful access to the courts. Adkins v. W.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342 (1948); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989). To accomplish this end, a court must evaluate the litigant's indigence, but notwithstanding indigence, a court may sua sponte dismiss a matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 if the litigation is frivolous and malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         The Court will address the indigence and merits components of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 in turn.

         1. Indigence

         Section 1915 allows a litigant to commence a civil or criminal action in federal court without paying the administrative costs of the lawsuit. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992). The court's review of an in forma pauperis application is normally based solely on the affidavit of indigence. See Gibson v. R.G. Smith Co., 915 F.2d 260, 262-63 (6th Cir. 1990). The threshold requirement which must be met in order to proceed in forma pauperis is that the petitioner show, by affidavit, the inability to pay court fees and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). However, one need not be absolutely destitute to enjoy the benefit of proceeding in forma pauperis. Adkins, 335 U.S. at 342. An affidavit to proceed in forma pauperis is sufficient if it states that the petitioner cannot because of poverty, afford to pay for the costs of litigation and still pay for the necessities of life. Id. at 339.

         In the present case, the Plaintiff's Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees and Plaintiff's economic status has been considered in making the decision of whether to grant leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and it appears that Plaintiff's application sets forth grounds for so proceeding. The Application to Proceed In ...


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