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Levesque v. State Farm Ins.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

April 24, 2013

STATE FARM INS., et al., Defendants.

ANDRE LEVESQUE, Plattsburgh, New York, Plaintiff, Pro Se.


RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court is a Complaint brought by pro se Plaintiff Andre Levesque. Dkt. No. 1, Compl. Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated in Clinton County Jail, has not paid the statutory filing fee and, instead, has filed an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") and an Inmate Authorization Form. Dkt. Nos. 3 & 4. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis is denied pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) and we recommend sua sponte dismissing this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


A. IFP Application

1. Three Strikes Provision

Where a plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the court must determine whether the plaintiff has demonstrated sufficient economic need to proceed without prepaying, in full, the $350.00 filing fee. Notwithstanding Plaintiff's statement in the cover letter accompanying his Complaint indicating that he would "have no trouble paying" the filing fee (Dkt. No. 1-1), after reviewing the IFP Application, including the certification provided by the Clinton County Sheriff's Department, the Court finds for purposes of this Report-Recommendation and Order that Plaintiff currently meets the economic criteria for commencing this action without prepayment of fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).

Nevertheless, the Court must also determine whether the three strikes provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) bars Plaintiff from proceeding in forma pauperis and without prepayment of the filing fee. Section 1915(g) provides:

In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

The Court notes that in a prior action initiated by Plaintiff in this Court, it was determined that Levesque had accumulated more than three strikes for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) "because at least three of plaintiff's previous complaints were dismissed as frivolous and/or for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted." Levesque v. United States Gov't, Civ. No. 9:12-CV-796 (NAM/DEP) (N.D.N.Y.), Dkt. No. 8, Dec. & Order, dated July 30, 2012, at p. 4 (citing various cases wherein Levesque accumulated three strikes prior to initiating the civil action in the Northern District of New York on May 5, 2012).[1] The undersigned takes judicial notice of this ruling by the Honorable Norman A. Mordue, United States District Judge, and similarly determines, based upon our review of the cited cases, that Plaintiff has indeed acquired three or more strikes prior to bringing this current action on March 23, 2013.[2] Thus, unless it appears that the imminent danger exception to the three strikes rule is applicable in this action, Plaintiff may not proceed with this action in forma pauperis.

2. Imminent Danger Exception

Congress enacted the imminent danger exception contained in the final phrase of § 1915(g) as a "safety valve" to prevent impending harms to prisoners otherwise barred from proceeding in forma pauperis. Malik v. McGinnis, 293 F.3d 559, 563 (2d Cir. 2002). "[F]or a prisoner to qualify for the imminent danger exception, the danger must be present when he files his complaint - in other words, a three-strikes litigant is not excepted from the filing fee if he alleges a danger that has dissipated by the time a complaint is filed." Pettus v. Morgenthau, 554 F.3d 293, 296 (2d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted); see also Polanco v. Hopkins, 510 F.3d 152 (2d Cir. 2007) (imminent danger claims must be evaluated at the time the complaint is filed, rather than at the time of the events alleged).

In addition, "§ 1915(g) allows a three-strikes litigant to proceed [ in forma pauperis ] only when there exists an adequate nexus between the claims he seeks to pursue and the imminent danger he alleges." Pettus v. Morgenthau, 554 F.3d at 296. In deciding whether such a nexus exists, the Second Circuit has instructed the courts to consider "(1) whether the imminent danger of serious physical injury that a three-strikes litigant alleges is fairly traceable to unlawful ...

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