STRANGE v. JUICE MAN
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND FOR EXPEDITED DISCOVERY AND RECOMMENDED DISMISSAL OF CASE ABSENT PAYMENT OF FILIG FEE. Objections to R&R due by 1/21/2021. By MAGISTRATE JUDGE JOHN H. RICH III. (jgd)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MAINE
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND FOR
EXPEDITED DISCOVERY AND RECOMMENDED DISMISSAL OF CASE
ABSENT PAYMENT OF FILING FEE
Pro se plaintiff Clinton Strange has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP)
and a motion for limited expedited discovery in the instant case alleging violations of the
Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
of 1977. See Civil Action Complaint (ECF No. 1); Plaintiff’s Motion for Limited Expedited
Discovery Prior to a Rule 26(f) Conference (“Discovery Motion”) (ECF No. 5); Application to
Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs (“IFP Motion”) (ECF No. 6); [Affidavit
in Support of the Application] (“IFP Aff.”), Exh. A (ECF No. 7) to IFP Motion. I conclude that
the plaintiff is ineligible for IFP status and, accordingly, deny the IFP Motion, deny the Discovery
Motion without prejudice to its reassertion, and direct that the plaintiff pay the filing fee of $402
no later than January 28, 2021, failing which I recommend that this case be dismissed without
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IFP status is available under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) for persons who are “unable to pay”
court filing fees or “give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. §1915(a)(1). The plaintiff has submitted a
detailed affidavit that makes clear he does not qualify for IFP status as so defined. The plaintiff
reports that, as of the date his IFP Motion was filed (December 14, 2020), he had a total of only
$243.86 in cash or in checking or savings accounts. See IFP Motion at 2. However, he also
discloses average monthly income in the past 12 months of $4,416.35, consisting of $3,216.35 in
United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability payments and $1,200 in other
income, and expected income in the next month (January 2021) of $3,816.35, consisting of a
$3,216.35 VA disability payment and $600 in other income. See IFP Aff. ¶ 1.
The plaintiff, who has no dependents, see IFP Motion at 2, reports average monthly
expenses in the past 12 months of $1,366.06 for housing, utilities, home maintenance, food,
clothing, recreation, and insurance and $1,800 for TCPA litigation costs, totaling $3,166.06, see
IFP Aff. ¶ 8.
As the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi observed in
denying an IFP application filed by the plaintiff:
In order to grant an IFP application, the Court must examine the financial condition
of the applicant in order to determine whether Plaintiff can afford the costs of
proceeding without undue hardship or deprivation of the necessities of life. This
entails a review of other demands on individual plaintiffs’ financial resources,
including whether the expenses are discretionary or mandatory.
Strange v. Caesars Ent. Corp., CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:19-CV-288-HSO-JCG, 2019 WL 3604641,
at *1 (S.D. Miss. May 17, 2019) (rec. dec., aff’d June 10, 2019) (citations and internal quotation
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The plaintiff does not explain the nature of his litigation expenses; however, my research
indicates that, with respect to at least some of his TCPA lawsuits, he has paid filing fees either at
the outset of the litigation or following the denial of an IFP application. See, e.g., ECF Docket,
Strange v. U.S. Autocare, No. 5:20-cv-01613-EEF-MLH (W.D. La.) (notation that filing fee paid
on December 18, 2020, following filing of complaint on December 10, 2020); Clerk[’]s Notice of
Receipt of Filing Fee (ECF No. 3), Strange v. Nescio, No. 9:20-cv-80947-DMM (S.D. Fla. June
15, 2020) (filing fee paid at outset); ECF Docket, Strange v. Matherne Holdings, Inc., No. 1:18cv-01085-RGA (D. Del.) (notation that filing fee paid on August 7, 2018, following denial of IFP
status on July 26, 2018).
The plaintiff’s litigation expenses properly are categorized as discretionary expenditures,
absent which his average monthly income in 2020 exceeded his average monthly expenses by
$3,050.29, and his average monthly income from his disability payments alone exceeded his
average monthly expenses by $1,850.29, plainly reflecting an ability to pay the required filing fee.
Indeed, even taking into account all reported income and expenses, including litigation costs, the
plaintiff’s average monthly income for the past 12 months exceeded his average monthly expenses
by $1,250.29, and his expected income of $3,816.35 in January 2021 exceeds his expected
expenses by $650.29.1
The plaintiff, therefore, fails to demonstrate an inability to pay the court’s $402 filing fee
without undue hardship or deprivation of the necessities of life.
The court in Caesars Entertainment also took into account the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines, pursuant to which,
in 2019, the poverty level for a one-person household was $12,490. See Caesars Entertainment, 2019 WL 3604641,
at *1. The poverty level for a one-person household increased to $12,760 in 2020, see Annual Update of the HHS
Poverty Guidelines, 85 Fed. Reg. 3060 (Jan. 17, 2020), approximately one-third of the plaintiff’s total reported 2020
VA disability income of $38,596.20 and less than a quarter of his total reported 2020 income of $52,996.20. I do not
rely primarily on the guidelines, which are not tailored to the circumstances of individuals; however, they buttress my
finding that IFP status should be denied in this case.
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For the foregoing reasons, the IFP Motion is DENIED, the Discovery Motion is DENIED
without prejudice to its renewal, and the plaintiff is DIRECTED to pay this court’s $402 filing
fee no later than January 28, 2021, failing which I recommend that this suit be DISMISSED
A party may file objections to those specified portions of a magistrate judge’s report or
proposed findings or recommended decisions entered pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) for
which de novo review by the district court is sought, together with a supporting memorandum,
within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy thereof. A responsive memorandum
shall be filed within fourteen (14) days after the filing of the objection.
Failure to file a timely objection shall constitute a waiver of the right to de novo review
by the district court and to appeal the district court’s order.
Dated this 7th day of January, 2021.
/s/ John H. Rich III
John H. Rich III
United States Magistrate Judge
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