BEAVER v. BURLINGTON COUNTY PUBLIC DEFENDER OFFICE et al
MEMORANDUM, OPINION, TEXT ORDER Plaintiff's IFP is Granted. Directing Clerk to file the complaint. Ordered the Complaint is Dismissed without prejudice. Order Plaintiff may file an amended complaint within 45 days of this Memorandum Opinion a nd Order. Plaintiff's Motion seeking appointment of Pro Bono is Denied without prejudice. Plaintiff is granted leave to file a renewed motion for the appointment of pro bono counsel following the Courts screening, and acceptance for filing, of any amended complaint.. So Ordered by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 6/29/17. (jbk, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
ANTHONY CURTIS BEAVER,
Civil No. 16-5935 (NLH/JS)
BURLINGTON COUNTY PUBLIC
DEFENDER OFFICE, et al.,
Anthony Curtis Beaver
11 North 10th Street
Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania 17844
Pro Se Plaintiff
HILLMAN, District Judge
This matter having come before the Court by way of
Plaintiff’s application [Doc. No. 1-5] to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP application”) in this action submitted on
September 26, 2016 and by way of Plaintiff’s Complaint1 [Doc. No.
1] submitted to the Court on the same date; and
The Court recognizing that when a non-prisoner seeks
permission to file a civil complaint in forma pauperis under 28
Plaintiff entitled his filing a “Motion for Credit
Discrimination”, but the Court’s review indicates that this
filing is more properly construed as a Complaint, and this
Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses it as such.
U.S.C. § 1915, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”)
requires the person2 to submit an affidavit that includes a
statement of all assets and that the person is unable to pay
such fees or give security, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a); and
The Court recognizing that the decision to grant or deny an
IFP application is based solely on the economic eligibility of
the petitioner, see Sinwell v. Shapp, 536 F.2d 15, 19 (3d Cir.
The Court having reviewed Plaintiff’s IFP application and
affidavit of poverty, and Plaintiff having signed the affidavit
in support of his IFP application declaring under penalty of
Although Section 1915 refers to “prisoners,” federal courts
apply Section 1915 to non-prisoner IFP applications as well.
See, e.g., Hickson v. Mauro, 2011 WL 6001088, *1 (D.N.J. 2011)
(citing Lister v. Dept. of Treasury, 408 F.3d 1309, 1312 (10th
Cir. 2005) (“Section 1915(a) applies to all persons applying for
IFP status, and not just to prisoners.”) (citing Martinez v.
Kristi Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305, 1306 n. 1 (11th Cir.
2004); Haynes v. Scott, 116 F.3d 137, 140 (5th Cir. 1997); Floyd
v. United States Postal Serv., 105 F.3d 274, 275 (6th Cir.
1997)); El Ameen Bey v. Stumpf, No. 11-5684, 2011 WL 4962326, at
* 11 n.7 (D.N.J. Oct. 17, 2011) (Kugler, J.) (“Although Section
1915(a) refers to a ‘statement of all assets such prisoner
possesses,’ this section has been applied by courts in their
review of applications of non-prisoners as well.”) (citing
Douris v. Middletown Twp., 293 F. App’x 130 (3d Cir. 2008) (“The
reference to prisoners in § 1915(a)(1) appears to be a mistake.
In forma pauperis status is afforded to all indigent persons,
not just prisoners.”)).
perjury that he is unable to pay the costs of these proceedings;
Accordingly, based on this information, the Court hereby
grants Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis in
this case and directs the Clerk to file the Complaint in this
The Court noting that under the PLRA the Court, prior to
docketing or as soon as practicable after docketing, must also
review the complaint in a civil action in which a plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
The PLRA requires the Court to sua sponte dismiss any claim if
the Court determines that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
The Court further noting that a “document filed pro se is
to be liberally construed, ... and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers[.]”
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
The Court recognizing that federal courts also have an
independent obligation to address issues of subject matter
jurisdiction sua sponte and may do so at any stage of the
litigation, see Adamczewski v. Emerson Elec. Co., No. 10-4862,
2011 WL 1045162, at *1 (D.N.J. Mar. 22, 2011) (citing Meritcare
Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 166 F.3d 214, 217 (3d Cir.
1999), overruled on other grounds by Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Allapattah Svcs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546 (2005)); see also Zambelli
Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 2010)
(“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and when
there is a question as to our authority to hear a dispute, ‘it
is incumbent upon the courts to resolve such doubts, one way or
the other, before proceeding to a disposition on the
merits.’”)(citing Carlsberg Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan
Ass'n., 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d Cir. 1977)); and
Plaintiff asserting in his Complaint that “his rights [have
been] violated by unfair credit practices[,]”
(See Compl. [Doc.
No. 1] 1); and
Plaintiff further asserting that the circumstances giving
rise to his alleged “credit discrimination” stem from his 2007
extradition to Pennsylvania from the Burlington County Jail,
Plaintiff alleging that because he had “no income” and “no
place to live” at the time of his extradition, he utilized the
“services of the Burlington County Public Defender’s Office in
[his] extradition matter[,]”3 (Id.); and
Plaintiff claiming that in July of 2016, he received a
bill from Penn Credit Corporation for the services provided by
the Burlington County Public Defender’s Office in the 2007
extradition matter,4 (Id.); and
Plaintiff seeking relief in the form of $10,000 from each
Defendant for breaking “Pennsylvania State law and trying to
make [Plaintiff] pay an outdated debt[,]”5 and that “this issue
The precise nature of the services provided by Defendant
Burlington County Public Defender’s Office and the circumstances
of the extradition proceeding are not clear from the Complaint.
Attached as Exhibit A to Plaintiff’s Complaint is a
“Consumer Profile” from Defendant Penn Credit Corporation, which
lists the “Public Defenders Office” as a creditor, indicates
Plaintiff has an outstanding balance of $289.00, and notifies
Plaintiff that this information “is being sent by a debt
collector” and is “an attempt to collect a debt.” (Ex. A to
Pl.’s Compl. [Doc. No. 1-4], 1-2.)
It appears Plaintiff is relying on 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann.
§ 5525 which sets forth various state court causes of action in
Pennsylvania that are subject to a four year statute of
limitations, to claim that his alleged debt from 2007 can no
longer be collected upon by Defendant Penn Credit Corporation.
The Court makes no determination on the validity of the debt, or
Defendant Penn Credit Corporation’s ability to collect upon it,
and nothing in this Memorandum Opinion and Order should be
... be removed from his credit immediately[,]” (Id. at 2); and
The Court observing that Plaintiff’s Complaint, construed
liberally, appears to assert a claim that Defendants are
improperly seeking to collect a debt, which Plaintiff contends
is beyond the Pennsylvania statute of limitations as a matter of
state law; and
The Court finding that Plaintiff has not properly asserted
a basis for this Court to exercise jurisdiction over this claim;
The Court noting that “[f]ederal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction” which “possess only that power authorized
by Constitution and statute[.]”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
“In order to provide a
federal forum for plaintiffs who seek to vindicate federal
rights, Congress has conferred on the district courts original
jurisdiction in federal-question cases --- civil actions that
arise under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
In order to provide a neutral forum for what have come
to be known as diversity cases, Congress also has granted
district courts original jurisdiction in civil actions between
construed as making such determinations.
citizens of different States, between U.S. citizens and foreign
citizens, or by foreign states against U.S. citizens.
that diversity jurisdiction does not flood the federal courts
with minor disputes, § 1332(a) requires that the matter in
controversy in a diversity case exceed a specified amount,
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs.,
Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005) (citing 28 U.S.C. §S 1331, 1332);
The Court finding that, even construed liberally in light
of his pro se status, Plaintiff’s Complaint does not allege
facts sufficient to demonstrate that this Court has a
jurisdictional basis to consider Plaintiff’s state law claims
regarding his alleged debt, and his Complaint must be dismissed
without prejudice at this time.
IT IS on this
, 2017, hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s IFP Application [Doc. No. 1-5]
shall be, and hereby is, GRANTED and the Clerk is directed to
file Plaintiff’s Complaint [Doc. No. 1]; and it is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Complaint shall be, and hereby is,
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk is directed to mark his matter as
CLOSED; and it is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended
complaint in this action within forty-five (45) days of the date
of this Memorandum Opinion and Order which sets forth sufficient
facts demonstrating that the exercise of jurisdiction by this
Court is proper and that Plaintiff has a plausible claim for
relief; and it is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion [Doc. No. 2] seeking
appointment of pro bono counsel shall be, and hereby is, DENIED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE as premature.
Plaintiff is granted leave to
file a renewed motion for the appointment of pro bono counsel
following the Court’s screening, and acceptance for filing, of
any amended complaint.
s/ Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
At Camden, New Jersey
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