Cooper v. Coghlan et al
ORDER signed by the Honorable Edmond E. Chang. For the reasons stated in the Order, the application to proceed in forma pauperis 7 is denied because the Plaintiff can afford the filing fee. Also, the complaint is not signed, so it is dismissed with out prejudice. If the Plaintiff wants to proceed with this case, then by 07/06/2021 she must: (1) pre-pay the $402.00 filing fee; and (2) submit a signed amended complaint. The Plaintiff is advised that she has a continuing obligation to keep th e Court apprised of her current address and failure to do so will result in dismissal for lack of prosecution. The Clerk's Office shall mail a blank complaint form to the Plaintiff. The motion to dismiss 10 is terminated without prejudice because it is premature. The tracking status hearing of 06/04/2021 is reset to 07/16/2021 at 8:30 a.m., but to track the case only (no appearance is required, the case will not be called). Mailed notice (mw, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Phala Cooper (R-89023),
Matthew Coghlan, et al.,
Case No. 1:21-CV-00307
Honorable Edmond E. Chang
Phala Cooper, an Illinois prisoner, brings this pro se civil rights action, 42
U.S.C. § 1983, challenging certain aspects of the state court criminal prosecution
against her. R. 1.
The threshold issue is the filing-fee requirement. Cooper applied to proceed in
forma pauperis, but the application is denied because she could have afforded the
filing fee. The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires all prisoners to pay the full filing
fee, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), but permits a prisoner who is unable to prepay the fee
upfront to pay it over time through monthly deductions from her trust-fund account.
A prisoner seeking to proceed in forma pauperis must obtain a certificate from an
authorized official stating the amount of money on deposit in her account. She must
also “submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional
equivalent) for the prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing
of the complaint or notice of appeal, obtained from the appropriate official of each
prison at which the prisoner is or was confined.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2).
Here, Cooper’s trust-fund statement shows that, right before filing this lawsuit, Cooper had $434.31 on hand in her account. See R. 7 at 4 (showing account balance of $434.31 on January 13, 2021.) On top of that, the statements show that, in
the six months leading up to this lawsuit’s filing, she received $2,344.99 in deposits
to her account (averaging $390.83 per month) and that she spent over $2,000 of these
funds on commissary, personal service, postage, and disbursements to some other
person. Id. at 3–4.
Because Cooper is a prisoner for whom the State provides the necessities of
life, that amount of funds does not qualify her for in forma pauperis status. See Lumbert v. Illinois Department of Corrections, 827 F.2d 257, 260 (7th Cir. 1987); see also
Maboneza v. Kincaid, 798 Fed. App’x 19, 21 (7th Cir. 2020) (non-precedential disposition) (“Courts have broad discretion in assessing the sufficiency of an applicant’s
evidence of poverty, especially when it comes to prisoners, who have fewer demands
on their income because prisons provide them with food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.”). If Cooper can explain how the funds were spend on living necessities (such
as medical co-payments, educational expenses, and so on), then she may file a renewed application and provide the explanation. But on the current record, she does
not qualify, and the motion is denied.
Cooper must pre-pay the $402.00 filing fee if she wants to proceed with this
case. Payment should be sent to the Clerk of Court, United States District Court, 219
South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604, attn: Cashier’s Desk, 20th Floor, and
must clearly identify Cooper’s name and the case number assigned to this case. The
payment is due by July 6, 2021. Failure to meet the deadline will result in dismissal
of the case without prejudice.
As a separate matter, Cooper failed to sign the complaint. R. 1. Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 11(a) requires every pleading to be signed. So the complaint is dismissed without prejudice. Also, the complaint is not on the Court’s required form, see
N.D. Ill. L.R. 81.1, so any amended complaint should use that form. The Clerk’s Office
shall mail a blank complaint form to Cooper. The amended complaint is also due by
July 6, 2021, or else the case will be dismissed without prejudice. Defendant Clark’s
motion to dismiss is premature in light of the need to resolve the fee status, so the
motion is terminated without prejudice.
The tracking status hearing of June 4, 2021, is reset to July 16, 2021, at 8:30
a.m., but to track the case only (no appearance is required).
s/Edmond E. Chang
Honorable Edmond E. Chang
United States District Judge
DATE: June 3, 2021
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