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Klenchik v. Stanley-Ratchford

United States District Court, N.D. New York

July 31, 2018

JUDITH ANN KLENCHIK, Plaintiff,
v.
LATISHA STANLEY-RATCHFORD, et al., Defendants.

          JUDITH ANN KLENCHIK, PRO SE FOR PLAINTIFF

          NONE FOR DEFENDANTS

          ORDER, REPORT, AND RECOMMENDATION

          DAVID E. PEEBLES CHIEF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is an action brought by pro se plaintiff Judith Ann Klenchik alleging that the defendants, three individuals employed at Onondaga Community Living, discriminated against her on the basis of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12102 et seq. Plaintiff's complaint and accompanying application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") were forwarded to me for review. Based upon that review I determined that her IFP application was incomplete and denied the request without prejudice to renewal.

         Plaintiff has now submitted an amended IFP motion, and the clerk has forwarded the matter back to me for review. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's request to proceed IFP is denied, and I recommend her complaint be dismissed with leave to replead.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this action on or about May 23, 2018, by the filing of a complaint, accompanied by a motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the requisite filing fee. Dkt. Nos. 1, 2. After reviewing plaintiff's IFP application, I issued an order on June 5, 2018, concluding that the IFP application was incomplete and therefore denying her request for IFP status and requiring plaintiff to either pay the requisite $400 filing or submit a revised, complete IFP application. Dkt. No. 4.

         On June 22, 2018, plaintiff filed an amended motion for leave to proceed IFP, Dkt. No. 5, which has been referred back to me for review.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's IFP Application

         When a civil action is commenced in a federal district court, the statutory filing fee, currently set at $400, must ordinarily be paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). A court is authorized, however, to permit a litigant to proceed IFP if it determines that she is unable to pay the required filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).[1] Pursuant to section 1915, when a plaintiff seeks leave to proceed IFP, the court must determine whether she has demonstrated sufficient economic need to proceed without prepaying the required filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).

         The decision of whether to grant an application to proceed IFP rests within the sound discretion of the court. Anderson v. Coughlin, 700 F.2d 37, 42 (2d Cir. 1983). Section 1915 only provides that a court must be satisfied "that the person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor" prior to granting IFP status. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). To make this threshold showing, a plaintiff must demonstrate "that paying such fees would constitute a serious hardship on the plaintiff, not that such payment would render plaintiff destitute." Fiebelkorn v. United States, 77 Fed.Cl. 59, 62 (Fed. Cl. 2007) (citing Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948)); see also Potnick v. E. State Hosp., 701 F.2d 243, 244 (2d Cir. 1983) ("Section 1915(a) does not require a litigant to demonstrate absolute destitution[.]"); accord, Lee v. McDonald's Corp., 231 F.3d 456, 459 (8th Cir. 2000). As the Second Circuit has noted, "no party must be made to choose between abandoning a potential meritorious claim or foregoing the necessities of life." Potnick, 701 F.2d at 244 (citing Adkins, 335 U.S. at 339).

         Plaintiff's amended IFP application indicates that, although she was unemployed at the time she filed her complaint, she is now employed in Asheville, North Carolina, and earns an annual salary of $47, 000. Dkt. No. 5 at 3.

         The United States Department of Health and Human Services publishes yearly Poverty Guidelines. Those guidelines reflect that, for 2018, the poverty threshold for a household of one is $12, 140.00. See United States Dep't of Health & Human Servs., https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines (last visited July 30, 2018).[2]Based upon the information that plaintiff has provided, the court is unable to conclude that paying the fees associated with this lawsuit would impose a serious financial hardship upon her. It may be that plaintiff is burdened by liabilities not reflected in her application that would inform ...


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