Manohar v. Gramling et al
ORDER granting 1 Motion to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissing without prejudice the 2 Complaint. 6 Motion to Expedite is denied as moot. The Court will enter judgment by separate order. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 10/19/2017. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
Case No. 3:17-cv-69 KGB/JTK
LACY GRAMLING, Attorney ad Litem,
Arkansas Department of Human Services;
JAMES BARR, Attorney, Arkansas
Department of Human Services; LATASHA
GAUSE, Children and Family Services Case
Worker, Arkansas Department of Human Services;
and JOHNNY DUNIGAN, Attorney
Before the Court is the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis filed by plaintiff
Lakhraj Manohar (Dkt. No. 1). Also before the Court is Mr. Manohar’s motion to expedite (Dkt.
No. 6). For the following reasons, the Court grants Mr. Manohar’s motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 1), dismisses without prejudice his complaint, and denies as moot his
motion to expedite (Dkt. No. 6).
Because Mr. Manohar seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court must undertake a twostep screening process. Martin-Trigona v. Stewart, 691 F.2d 856, 857 (8th Cir. 1982). First, the
Court must determine whether Mr. Manohar is financially eligible to proceed in forma pauperis
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Id. Based on Mr. Manohar’s application, Mr. Manohar has neither
the funds nor the income to pay the filing fee (Dkt. No. 1). Therefore, the Court grants Mr.
Manohar’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis and will permit Mr. Manohar to proceed without
prepayment of the filing fee (Dkt. No. 1).
Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Martin-Trigona, 691 F.2d at 857. Section 1915(e)(2)(B) authorizes a
district court to dismiss “at any time” an in forma pauperis complaint that is: (i) frivolous or
malicious, (ii) fails to state claim upon which relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. This action presents similar issues as those
addressed in the well-reasoned opinion of Key v. Does, which addressed whether the complaints
nonprisoners who proceed in forma pauperis are subject to § 1915(e)(2)(B). 217 F.Supp.3d 1006
(E.D. Ark. 2016).
As noted by Judge Holmes in Key, every United States Circuit Courts of Appeal to have
addressed this issue has held that § 1915(e)(2)(B) applies equally to nonprisoner complaints as it
does to prisoner complaints. See, e.g., Michau v. Charleston Cty., S.C., 434 F.3d 725, 738 (4th
Cir. 2006); Lister v. Dep’t of Treasury, 408 F.3d 1309, 1312 (10th Cir. 2005); Newsome v. EEOC,
301 F.3d 227, 231-33 (5th Cir. 2002); Cieszkowska v. Gray Line N.Y., 295 F.3d 204, 205-06 (2d
Cir. 2002); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 n. 7 (9th Cir. 2000); Rowe v. Shake, 196 F.3d 778,
783 (7th Cir. 1999); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997) overruled on
other grounds by Lafountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013).
Moreover, while the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet conclusively resolved this
issue, it has affirmed multiple decisions dismissing nonprisoner cases under § 1915. See, e.g.,
Stebbins v. Stebbins, 575 Fed.Appx. 705 (8th Cir. 2014) (unpublished per curiam); Fogle v. Blake,
227 Fed.Appx. 542 (8th Cir. 2007); Benter v. Iowa, 221 Fed.Appx. 471 (8th Cir. 2007); Carter v.
Bickhaus, 142 Fed.Appx. 937 (8th Cir. 2005) (unpublished per curiam). Any of the grounds listed
in § 1915 provide a sufficient basis for this Court to dismiss the complaint before service and
without leave to amend. See Higgins v. Carpenter, 258 F.3d 797, 800 (8th Cir. 2001); see also
Christiansen v. Clarke, 147 F.3d 655, 658 (8th Cir. 1998), cert denied, 525 U.S. 1023 (1998).
Because Mr. Manohar is proceeding pro se, his complaint must be construed liberally. See Estelle
v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Nevertheless, pro se litigants must allege sufficient facts to
support the claims contained in the complaint. Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).
The allegations of Mr. Manohar’s complaint appear to stem from an administrative
decision of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (“the Department”) (Dkt. No. 2, 4). Mr.
Manohar’s complaint names as separate defendants Lacy Grambling, who is identified as an
attorney ad litem with the Department; James Barr, who is identified as an attorney with the
Department; Latasha Gause, who is identified as a county case worker with the Department; and
Johnny Dunigan, who appears to be an attorney in private practice in Arkansas. Mr. Manohar,
when identifying what he wants the Court to do for him, claims he wants the right to “a fair
opportunity for an independent paternity test and for a fair due process of law concerning case
[sic]” (Id., at 5).
“A complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). When screening a
complaint pursuant to § 1915, “the district court must accept the allegations contained in the
complaint as true and all reasonable inferences from the complaint must be drawn in favor of the
nonmoving party.” Young, 244 F.3d at 627.
This Court determines that Mr. Manohar’s complaint does not state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Court determines that Mr. Manohar’s
complaint seeks to allege a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 but fails to do so (Dkt.
No. 1). Construed liberally, Mr. Manohar’s complaint appears to allege that the defendants caused
a deprivation of “fair due process of law” (Id.). However, Mr. Manohar does not articulate how
the actions of any one of the defendants have caused a denial of his right to due process of law.
As an initial matter, Mr. Manohar does not identify in his description of the facts any act
allegedly taken by separate defendant Mr. Dunigan. Aside from being identified as a defendant,
there is no mention of Mr. Dunigan in regard to the conduct about which Mr. Manohar complains.
Therefore, as to Mr. Dunigan, pursuant to § 1915, this Court dismisses without prejudice Mr.
Manohar’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Dkt. No. 2).
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
While Mr. Manohar does identify separate defendants Ms. Grambling, Mr. Barr, and Ms.
Gause in the description of the facts about which he complains, Mr. Manohar does not clearly
identify what acts each defendant is alleged to have taken or how those alleged acts purportedly
caused a deprivation of his civil rights. Mr. Manohar does not explain the separate defendants’
roles in the conduct about which he complains. Further, Mr. Manohar generally alleges that
“workers lying [sic] under oath and processing documents in a timely manner” and complains
about “favoritism” and “conflict of interest,” but Mr. Manohar does not identify who these workers
are or articulate specific allegations against specific individuals (Dkt. No. 2, 4). Mr. Manohar’s
complaint does not state a facially plausible claim and therefore does not satisfy the requirements
of Twombly and Iqbal.
Thus, for the reasons stated above, the Court must dismiss the action for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Consequently, the Court
dismisses without prejudice Mr. Manohar’s complaint (Dkt. No. 1) and denies as moot Mr.
Manohar’s motion to expedite (Dkt. No. 6). The Court will enter judgment by separate order.
It is so ordered this the 19th day of October 2017.
Kristine G. Baker
United States District Judge
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