Hinton v. Pearson et al
RULING AND ORDER: For the reasons set forth in the attached order, the order granting the plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 10 ) is VACATED and his motions to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF Nos. [2 ], 8 ) are DENIED. The Court notes that the complaint will be deemed received by the court on June 24, 2021, so long as the filing fee is submitted within the time allotted by this order. Accordingly, all further proceedings in the matter sha ll be held in abeyance for thirty (30) days pending the plaintiff's delivery of the filing fee in the amount of $402.00 (money order or bank check made payable to the Clerk of Court) to the Clerk's Office, 915 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport, Connecticut, 06604. Failure to tender the filing fee within thirty days of this order will result in the dismissal of this order. Signed by Judge Michael P. Shea on 7/19/21.(Constantine, A.)
Case 3:21-cv-00863-MPS Document 11 Filed 07/19/21 Page 1 of 4
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
PEARSON, et al.
Case No. 3:21-cv-863 (MPS)
RULING AND ORDER
The plaintiff, Justice Hinton, sought to file this civil rights action in forma pauperis
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. On July 13, 2021, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to
proceed in forma pauperis based on his statements that he currently has a balance of $132.91 in
his prison inmate account. See ECF Nos. 9-10. However, an examination of his account history
shows that in forma pauperis status was improvidently granted. Accordingly, the order granting
the plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is vacated and the motion is denied.
It is well settled that the decision to proceed in forma pauperis in civil cases is committed
to the sound discretion of the district court. See Rowland v. California Men’s Colony, Unit II
Men’s Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 217-18 (1993); Monti v. McKeon, 600 F. Supp. 112, 113
(D. Conn. 1984), aff’d, 788 F.2d 1 (2d Cir. 1985). In exercising this discretion under section
1915(a), the district court must determine whether the burden of paying the fees for filing and
service would either hamper the plaintiff’s ability to obtain the necessities of life or force him to
abandon the action. Adkins v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339-40 (1948);
Potnick v. Easter State Hosp., 701 F.2d 243, 244 (2d Cir. 1983).
Case 3:21-cv-00863-MPS Document 11 Filed 07/19/21 Page 2 of 4
The plaintiff submitted two copies of his inmate account statement, the first showing the
period from December 21, 2020 through June 21, 2021, the second showing the period from
January 13, 2021 through July 13, 2021. The second statement shows that the plaintiff received
over $2,300.00 in 2021, ECF No. 9, and the first statement shows that he received an additional
$1,200.00 in December 2020, ECF No. 3. In his motion to proceed in forma pauperis, the
plaintiff states that in the previous twelve months, he received over $500.00 in gifts and
$3,200.00 in government stimulus payments. See ECF No. 8 at 2.
All litigants must make decisions about how to spend their money when they are
contemplating litigation. “If every inmate were permitted to simply spend funds in the canteen
to avoid paying a filing fee, the in forma pauperis review would be a waste of time and effort.”
Briand v. State of Fla., No. 4:06cv104-WS, 2006 WL 1890189, at *1 (N.D. Fla. July 10, 2006);
see Vann v. Comm'r of N.Y. City Dep't of Correction, 496 F. App’x 113, 115 (2d Cir. 2012)
(“Section 1915(e)(2)(A) serves the purpose of preventing abuse of the judicial system by
‘weed[ing] out the litigants who falsely understate their net worth in order to obtain in forma
pauperis status when they are not entitled to that status based on their true net worth.’”) (quoting
Attwood v. Singletary, 105 F.3d 610, 613 (11th Cir. 1997) (per curiam)); see also Lumbert v.
Illinois Dep’t of Corr., 827 F.2d 257, 260 (7th Cir. 1987) (“If the inmate thinks a more
worthwhile use of his funds would be to buy peanuts and candy ... than to file a civil rights suit,
he has demonstrated an implied evaluation of the suit that the district court is entitled to honor.”).
“[W]hen considering a prisoner’s affidavit of indigence, ‘the district court may “inquire
whether, if a prisoner has no cash credit at the moment of filing, he had disabled himself by a
recent drawing on his account and if so, for what purposes.”’” Miller v. Brown, No. CV 1122
Case 3:21-cv-00863-MPS Document 11 Filed 07/19/21 Page 3 of 4
166, 2013 WL 1346826, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 21, 2013) (quoting Collier v. Tatum, 722 F.2d 653,
655 (11th Cir. 1983) (quoting Evans v. Croom, 650 F.2d 521, 525 (4th Cir. 1981))), report and
recommendation adopted, 2013 WL 1346710 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 3, 2013). Courts have denied leave
to proceed in forma pauperis where inmates had sufficient funds but chose to use the funds for
other purposes before filing a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See Martin v. United States,
317 F. App’x 869, 870-71 (11th Cir. 2008) (affirming denial of in forma pauperis application
where district court found that prisoner had received $1,818 in deposits in the preceding six
months but “chose to spend those funds on matters other than this litigation”); Brown v. Ruiz,
No. 3:20-cv-1202(KAD), 2020 WL 6395480, at *1-2 (D. Conn. Nov. 2, 2020) (noting, in
denying motion to proceed in forma pauperis, that plaintiff had received deposits in excess of
$3,000.00 in the seven months before filing action but spent or sent funds out of facility to
qualify for in forma pauperis status before filing complaint); see also Foster v. Wallace, No.
1:19-cv-00987-SAB, 2021 WL 2292774, at *9 (E.D. Cal. June 4, 2021) (“review of Plaintiff’s
current trust account statement does support a finding that Plaintiff filed this action in bad faith
as it demonstrates that Plaintiff is receiving large monthly deposits and is transferring the funds
out of his trust account which indicates he is attempting to avoid paying his financial
obligations”); Kinloch v. Wilcher, No. CV420-209, 2020 WL 6922628, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 24,
2020) (adopting ruling vacating order granting motion to proceed in forma pauperis where
inmate’s account statement showed deposits of over $5,000.00 during preceding five months,
which funds were spent before filing motion to proceed in forma pauperis).
The plaintiff received over $3,500.00 since late December 2020. However, he chose to
spend the funds in the commissary or send money out of the facility. His complaint concerns an
Case 3:21-cv-00863-MPS Document 11 Filed 07/19/21 Page 4 of 4
incident occurring in June 2020, so it appears he was contemplating litigation when he chose to
deplete his funds. The plaintiff had sufficient funds to pay the filing fee in this case but chose to
spend those funds on other things to render himself eligible for in forma pauperis status.
Although the plaintiff, unlike the plaintiffs in the cases cited above, acknowledges that he
received the funds, this is not the proper use of the in forma pauperis statute.
The order granting the plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 10] is
VACATED and his motions to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF Nos. 2, 8] are DENIED. The
Court notes that the complaint will be deemed received by the court on June 24, 2021, so long as
the filing fee is submitted within the time allotted by this order. Accordingly, all further
proceedings in the matter shall be held in abeyance for thirty (30) days pending the plaintiff’s
delivery of the filing fee in the amount of $402.00 (money order or bank check made payable to
the Clerk of Court) to the Clerk’s Office, 915 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport, Connecticut, 06604.
Failure to tender the filing fee within thirty days of this order will result in the dismissal of this
SO ORDERED at Hartford, Connecticut, this 19th day of July 2021.
Michael P. Shea
United States District Judge
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