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Camden Vicinage Kenmore B. Emerson v. Bridgeport Superior Court

August 3, 2011

CAMDEN VICINAGE KENMORE B. EMERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRIDGEPORT SUPERIOR COURT, DISTRICT OF FAIRFIELD DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Doc. No. 1)

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on the motion of pro se Plaintiff Kenmore B. Emerson seeking to compel a state court to act on his pending motion to "open judgment," and an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). (Doc. No. 1). This matter is before the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which provides that if a litigant seeks to proceed IFP, the Court must review the complaint to determine if the claims are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Because the Court concludes from the information provided in Plaintiff's IFP affidavit that Plaintiff has limited financial resources, Plaintiff's application to proceed IFP is GRANTED. However, because Plaintiff's Complaint fails to meet the pleading standards of Rule 8, Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a non-prisoner, submitted the Complaint in May 2011. In the Complaint, Plaintiff demands the "enforcement of [a] judgment" from the Bridgeport Superior Court in Fairfield, Connecticut. (Pl.'s Compl. at 1). Plaintiff names the Bridgeport Superior Court as the only Defendant, stating that he filed a motion to "open judgment" in that court in September 2010. (Pl.'s Compl. at 1, 3). Plaintiff alleges further that the Bridgeport Superior Court has not acted on his motion "in over seven months." (Pl.'s Compl. at 3).

The remainder of Plaintiff's factual and legal allegations are muddled and largely nonsensical. Under the heading of "jurisdiction," Plaintiff states that jurisdiction, "depend's [sic] on Camden police dept [sic] Fbi [sic]." (Pl.'s Compl. at 3). Under the heading of "cause of action," Plaintiff states that he "filed a motion to open," and demands that "the court . . . enforce the judgment." (Pl.'s Compl. at 3-4). Plaintiff further alleges that he is owed "all lawful cost's [sic] and interest from Leon C. Hirsch who is president of [the] United States Surgical Corp." in the amount of $32,000. (Pl.'s Compl. at 4). Plaintiff demands $999,000 "from defendant," stating that "defendant did not enforce the judgment," and demands a jury trial. (Pl.'s Compl. at 5-6). Plaintiff attaches a document labeled "civil short calendar" for the Bridgeport Superior Court that references the civil case Hirsch v. Emerson, pro se, and Plaintiff's alleged motion. (Pl.'s Compl. at 12).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Third Circuit has established a two-step process for deciding applications to proceed IFP under § 1915. See Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 n.1 (3d Cir. 1990). "First, the court must determine whether [the] plaintiff is eligible for pauper status under § 1915(a). Second, the court must 'screen' the complaint under § 1915(e)(2) to ascertain whether it is frivolous, fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief." Levine v. Florida, No. 05-5102, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28148, at *1-2 (D.N.J. Nov. 16, 2005) (quoting Roman, 904 F.2d 194 n.1). A complaint is not deemed filed "unless and until" IFP status is granted; only then may a District Court determine if the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Oatess v. Sobolevitch, 914 F.2d 428, 429 n. 1 (3d Cir.1990).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Eligibility to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

When reviewing an application to proceed IFP, "the Court begins by reviewing the plaintiff's affidavit requesting pauper status." Levine, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28148, at *2-3 (citations omitted). If it appears to the court that a "plaintiff lacks sufficient resources, the court may grant plaintiff's request." Id. Here, Plaintiff's affidavit states that he receives a total of $685 per month in New Jersey Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") payments. (Emerson Aff. at 2,4). He lists no other assets or sources of income. (Id.). The affidavit further lists expenses for rent, utilities, and food totaling $1,150 per month. (Emerson Aff. at 4). Although Plaintiff's affidavit is partially deficient*fn1 , it appears that Plaintiff has limited financial resources, and therefore it is appropriate to grant Plaintiff's application to proceed IFP. Pursuant to the two-step process utilized in the Third Circuit, the Court may now proceed to screen Plaintiff's complaint "to determine whether it falls within one of the enumerated grounds for dismissal." Levine, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28148, at *3.

B. Plaintiff's Complaint

The Court must dismiss, at the earliest practicable time, IFP actions that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Crouch v. Mulvihill, No. 07-0054, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41063, at *3 (D.N.J. June 4, 2007).

In determining the sufficiency of a pro se complaint, the Court must be mindful to construe it liberally in favor of the plaintiff. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); United States v. Day, 969 F.2d 39, 42 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court must "accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, ...


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