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Davis v. Standard Insurance Co.

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

July 1, 2019

ARTHUR JAMES DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
THE STANDARD INSURANCE CO., CITY OF MEMPHIS GOV DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CHARMIANE G. CLAXTON U NITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On November 30, 2018, plaintiff Arthur James Davis filed a pro se complaint and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.E. # 1 & 2.) This case has been referred to the United States magistrate judge for management and for all pretrial matters for determination and/or report and recommendation as appropriate pursuant to Administrative Order 2013-05[1].

         Federal law provides that the “clerk of each district court shall require parties instituting any such civil action, suit or proceeding in such court, whether by original process, removal or otherwise, to pay a filing fee of $400, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). To ensure access to the courts, however, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) permits an indigent plaintiff to avoid payment of filing 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.

         In this case, the Plaintiff has submitted a properly completed and executed in forma pauperis affidavit. The information set forth in the affidavit satisfies Plaintiff's burden of demonstrating that he is unable to pay the civil filing fee. Accordingly, the motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. The Clerk shall record the defendants as Standard Insurance Company and City of Memphis.

         The complaint was filed using the form for alleging “violation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” Plaintiff's “Statement of Claim” alleges that Plaintiff experienced injuries to his left arm and hand in a on the job automobile accident in 2003 while an employee of the City of Memphis Code Enforcement Division. While awaiting surgery related to the injuries, Plaintiff became addicted to pain medication and suffered post traumatic stress disorder. Plaintiff returned to work January 2004 but found it difficult to function because of the drug addiction and mental illness. Plaintiff filed a disability claim with Defendant Standard Insurance Co. and was told that the payout for mental disorders was a two year period. Plaintiff appealed the discontinuance of payments in 2008 and was denied. In 2012, Plaintiff received a letter refusing reinstatement and payment. Plaintiff seeks $3.7 million dollars.

         The Court is required to screen in forma pauperis complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the action:

(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the Court applies the standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'“ Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681) (alteration in original). “[P]leadings that . . . are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 328-29 (1989)).

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under §§ 1915(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give “judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1915). Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50, a judge does not ...

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