Youngblood v. City of Georgiana et al (MAG+)
ORDER: For the reasons stated, and for good cause, it is ORDERED that the motions to proceed in forma pauperis (docs. 221 , 229 ) and amended motions for leave of transcripts at government expense (docs. 225 , 226 ) are DENIED as further set out in the order. Signed by Chief Judge Emily C. Marks on 11/15/2023. Furnished Appeals Clerk, Appeals Court Reporters. (dmn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ERIC C. YOUNGBLOOD, SR., et al.,
CITY OF GEORGIANA, ALA., et al.,
CIVIL CASE NO. 2:19-cv-1072-ECM
Now pending before the Court are the Plaintiffs’ motions to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) (docs. 221, 229) and amended motions for leave of transcripts at
government expense (docs. 225, 226). Upon consideration of the motions, and for the
reasons explained below, the motions are due to be denied.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, courts may permit a party to prosecute a civil action,
proceeding, or appeal “without prepayment of fees” upon a showing that the person is
unable to pay such fees. District courts have “wide discretion in denying an application to
proceed IFP under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.” Martinez v. Kristi Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305,
1307 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (quoting Flowers v. Turbine Support Div., 507 F.2d
1242, 1244 (5th Cir. 1975)). 1 “[P]roceeding in forma pauperis is a privilege, not a right,”
In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit
adopted as binding precedent all decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of
business on September 30, 1981.
Camp v. Oliver, 798 F.2d 434, 437 (11th Cir. 1986), and courts “should grant the privilege
sparingly” in civil cases for damages, Martinez, 364 F.3d at 1307 (quoting Flowers, 507
F.2d at 1244). In considering an IFP motion, the Court must determine “whether the
statements in the affidavit satisfy the requirement of poverty.” Id. (citation omitted). But
the Court may look beyond the IFP motion to determine a party’s financial condition.
Durrett v. Jenkins Brickyard, Inc., 678 F.2d 911, 917 (11th Cir. 1982).
Additionally, 28 U.S.C. § 753(f) provides that “[f]ees for transcripts furnished in
other proceedings to persons permitted to appeal in forma pauperis shall also be paid by
the United States if the trial judge or a circuit judge certifies that the appeal is not frivolous
(but presents a substantial question).”
The Plaintiffs seek to proceed in forma pauperis and to obtain copies of transcripts
from certain proceedings in this Court at the government’s expense. The Court will first
recount certain relevant procedural history before turning to the Plaintiffs’ motions.
When this lawsuit was originally filed, Plaintiff Eric Youngblood was the only
plaintiff. (See doc. 1). Proceeding pro se, Mr. Youngblood moved to proceed IFP, and his
IFP application reflected only his income and expenses. (Doc. 2). That motion was
granted. (Doc. 12). In a subsequent amended complaint, Plaintiff Melissa Youngblood was
added as a plaintiff. (Doc. 18).
On September 20, 2023, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order
granting the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, as well as a Final Judgment
dismissing the case with prejudice. (Docs. 205, 206). The Plaintiffs filed a pro se notice
of appeal on September 26, 2023. (Doc. 207). The record reflects that the Plaintiffs paid
the $505.00 appellate filing fee the same day. (Doc. 208).
In their amended motions for leave of transcripts, the Plaintiffs represent to the
Court that the estimated total cost for the transcripts they seek is between $400.00 and
$700.00. (Docs. 225, 226).
On October 30, 2023, the Plaintiffs filed their first motion to proceed IFP. (Doc.
221). The Plaintiffs filed a second motion to proceed IFP on November 13, 2023. (Doc.
229). In the October 30 motion, which was signed by Plaintiff Eric C. Youngblood, Sr.
and Plaintiff Melissa Youngblood, the Plaintiffs claim total monthly income of $4,840.00
($940.00 + $3,900.00) and monthly expenses of $5,069.07 ($1,267.89 + $3,801.18). (See
doc. 221 at 2, 5). In the November 13 motion, which was signed only by Plaintiff Melissa
Youngblood, the Plaintiffs claim total monthly income of $4,840.00 ($940.00 + $3,900.00)
and monthly expenses of $5,169.07 ($1,267.89 + $3,901.18). (Doc. 229 at 2, 5). Thus, the
monthly expenses claimed in November 13, 2023, are $100.00 greater than the expenses
claimed on October 30, 2023.
The Court will assume without deciding that the greater amount listed in the
November 13 motion—$5,169.07—accurately reflects the Plaintiffs’ monthly expenses.
Subtracting the Plaintiffs’ expenses—$5,169.07—from their income—$4,840.00—yields
a monthly deficit of $327.07.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the
poverty level for 2023 for a two-person household is $19,720.00 per year, or $1,643.33 per
month. 2 Thus, the Plaintiffs’ income is nearly three times the poverty level. Although not
dispositive, see Thomas v. Chattahoochee Jud. Cir., 574 F. App’x 916, 916–17 (11th Cir.
2014) (per curiam), this fact militates against a finding that the Plaintiffs are unable to
afford the costs of prosecuting this action.
Material to the Court’s analysis is the Plaintiffs’ recent payment of the $505.00
appellate filing fee. (Doc. 208). This payment demonstrates that the Plaintiffs have some
cash flow which can be applied towards the costs of prosecuting their appeal,
notwithstanding their claimed monthly deficit. Moreover, the estimated total cost for the
transcripts the Plaintiffs seek is between $400.00 and $700.00, which is close to the amount
the Plaintiffs recently paid towards the filing fee. On this record, the Court in its discretion
finds that the Plaintiffs have failed to show that they are unable to pay the fees necessary
to prosecute this action. Consequently, the Plaintiffs’ motions to proceed IFP are due to
be denied. Because they have not been permitted to proceed IFP, they also are not entitled
to have the government pay the costs of the transcripts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 753(f). 3
For the reasons stated, and for good cause, it is
ORDERED that the motions to proceed in forma pauperis (docs. 221, 229) and
amended motions for leave of transcripts at government expense (docs. 225, 226) are
U.S. DEP’T OF HEALTH & HUM. SERVS., HHS Poverty Guidelines for 2023,
https://aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines (last visited November 14,
The Court expresses no view as to whether the appeal is frivolous.
DONE this 15th day of November, 2023.
/s/ Emily C. Marks
EMILY C. MARKS
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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