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Ford v. State

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

November 20, 2017

MARK FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE, Defendant.

          ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO FILE A NON-PRISONER IN FORMA PAUPERIS AFFIDAVIT AND AN AMENDED COMPLAINT

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On November 17, 2017, Plaintiff Mark Ford, a resident of Lexington, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint on the form used for commencing an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1 at 1-2.) The complaint is accompanied by an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 2.)

         Federal law provides that the “clerk of each district court shall require the parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in such court, whether by original process, removal or otherwise, ” to pay the filing fee prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a).[1] To ensure access to the courts, however, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) permits an indigent plaintiff to avoid payment of the fees by filing an in forma pauperis affidavit. Under that section, the Court must conduct a satisfactory inquiry into the plaintiff's ability to pay the filing fee and prosecute the lawsuit. A plaintiff seeking in forma pauperis standing must respond fully to the questions on the Court's in forma pauperis form and execute the affidavit in compliance with the certification requirements contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1746. See, e.g., Reynolds v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 30 F. App'x 574 (6th Cir. 2002).

         In this case, Plaintiff has submitted only the two-page in forma pauperis affidavit form used by plaintiffs who are prisoners. However, Plaintiff is not incarcerated; therefore, the Court will require him to submit the longer, five-page form used by non-prisoners seeking pauper status. Accordingly, Plaintiff is ORDERED to submit a non-prisoner in forma pauperis affidavit within thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The Clerk is directed to mail Plaintiff a copy of the non-prisoner affidavit form along with this order.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 612, 613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975))); Payne v. Sec'y of Treas., 73 F. App'x 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua sponte dismissal of complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and stating, “[n]either this court nor the district court is required to create Payne's claim for her”); cf. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004) (“District judges have no bligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.”).

         In this case, Plaintiff's form complaint names the State of Tennessee as the Defendant. (ECF No. 1.) However, page two of the complaint form is missing. It is that page of the form on which the factual allegations should be set out and the specific claims asserted. Without page two, the complaint consists only of the case caption and a demand for relief that seeks to “vacate judgment, and be awarded $500, 000.” (Id. at 3). Thus, Plaintiff's document is presently inadequate to state any claim on which relief may be granted. Therefore, Plaintiff also is ORDERED to file an amended/corrected complaint within thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The text of the amended complaint must set forth the specific causes of action that are asserted and allege sufficient facts to support each of those claims.[2]

         If Plaintiff fails to file either a non-prisoner in forma pauperis affidavit or an amended complaint in a timely manner, the Court will dismiss the action without further notice for failure to prosecute, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

         Plaintiff is further ORDERED to notify the Court immediately, in writing, of any change of address. Failure to abide by this requirement may likewise result in the dismissal of this case without further notice, for failure to prosecute.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

---------

Notes:

[1] Section 1914(a) requires a civil filing fee of $350. The Schedule of Fees set out following the statute also requires the Clerk to collect an administrative fee of $50 for filing any civil case. However, the additional $50 fee does not apply if the plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

[2] The Court notes that the original complaint, scanned into the Electronic Filing System, is difficult to read because the ink used to fill out the form is not very dark. When he files his amended complaint, Plaintiff should ensure the ...


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