Ostrowski v. American System of Justice et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re 9 Appeal of Magistrate Judge Decision to District Court filed by Andrew J. Ostrowski Signed by Honorable Malachy E Mannion on 7/6/17. (bs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ANDREW J. OSTROWSKI d/b/a
PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL RIGHTS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:17-0788
AMERICAN SYSTEM OF JUSTICE, :
Before the court is the plaintiff’s appeal from a June 7, 2017 Order
issued by Magistrate Judge Joseph F. Saporito, Jr. (Doc. 9). This Order
temporarily disposed of the plaintiff’s second motion for leave to proceed in
In his complaint caption, the plaintiff Andrew J. Ostrowski has listed
himself as a plaintiff in this action, both individually and “on behalf of every
American.” In addition, he has included as plaintiffs his organization, the
Pennsylvania Civil Rights Law Network, and “The Body of Christ,” a common
religious reference that includes all persons belonging to the Christian faith
and/or church as a collective group. The plaintiff’s organization, presuming it
is a legitimate one, and the allegorical entity referenced in his complaint may
not proceed in forma pauperis. Rowland v. California Men’s Colony, 506 U.S.
194, 202–203 (1993) (holding only natural persons may proceed in forma
pauperis). If the plaintiff seeks to represent his organization and an allegorical
entity in this court, he is reminded that “[a]n attorney suspended for more than
three (3) months . . . may not resume practice until reinstated” by the court.
LR 83.26.1. Further, any misconduct, as defined by the local rules, will subject
the attorney to possible disciplinary action. LR 83.23.1.
forma pauperis (“IFP”). (Doc. 8). Based on the foregoing, the plaintiff’s appeal
is DISMISSED and Judge Saporito’s June 7, 2017 Order is AFFIRMED.2
Judge Saporito’s June 7, 2017 Order did not address the substance of
the plaintiff’s request to file IFP. Instead, the plaintiff’s second motion was
dismissed without prejudice and the plaintiff was instructed to either complete
a proper application to proceed IFP so that Judge Saporito could thoroughly
address the plaintiff’s IFP request or pay the requisite filing fee. This was the
second time the plaintiff had been advised by court order that a proper form
would be required to proceed IFP. (See Doc. 5). The plaintiff was granted
fourteen (14) days to comply with the Order. Instead of complying, on June
20, 2017, thirteen days after Judge Saporito’s issuance of the Order, the
plaintiff filed the current appeal, including a brief in support and declaration.
The plaintiff’s appeal is both frivolous and premature. The first two
arguments listed in the plaintiff’s brief suggest that Judge Saporito’s Order
disposed of the substance of the plaintiff’s second motion to proceed IFP,
which it clearly did not. In his third and final argument, the plaintiff appears
In several instances throughout his briefing the plaintiff misidentifies
Judge Saporito as the “Magistrate” or “Magistrate Saporito.” The title
magistrate no longer exists in the United States Courts, having been changed
from “magistrate” to “magistrate judge” in 1990. Judicial Improvements Act of
1990 §321, PUB. L. NO. 101-650, 104 STAT. 5089 (1990) (“After the
enactments of this Act, each United States magistrate . . . shall be known as
a United States magistrate judge.”). The plaintiff is reminded to use the
correct title, in the future, when referring to Judge Saporito.
confused by Judge Saporito’s reliance on 28 U.S.C. §1915 (the “IFP statute”)
because he is not a prisoner. Judge Saporito’s citation to and reliance on the
IFP statute is clearly proper.
The IFP statute states, in part:
[A]ny court of the United States may authorize the
commencement, prosecution or defense of any suit,
action or proceeding, civil or criminal, or appeal
therein, without prepayment of fees or security
therefor, by a person who submits an affidavit that
includes a statement of all assets such prisoner
possesses that the person is unable to pay such fees
or give security therefor.
28 U.S.C. §1915(a)(1). This provision refers to both “person[s]” and
“prisoner[s],” which, to a layman, might indicate that it applies only to
prisoners. A brief review of the law would reveal that this language is the
result of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110
STAT. 1321 (1996). See generally Abdul-Akbar v. McKelvie, 239 F.3d 307,
311–312 (2001) (discussing the PLRA and describing its enactment as a
response to the heavy volume of frivolous prisoner litigation). More
importantly, this provision has consistently been interpreted to apply to both
prisoners and nonprisoners despite the inconsistent language that references
the PLRA. E.g., Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1051 n. 1 (9th Cir.
2007); Lister v. Dep’t of Treasury, 408 F.3d 1309, 1312 (10th Cir. 2005);
Martinez v. Kristie Kleaners, Inc., 364 F.3d 1305, 1306 n. 1 (11th Cir. 2004);
Haynes v. Scott, 116 F.3d 137, 140 (5th Cir. 1997); Beaver v. Union Cty. Pa.,
No. 4:13-CV-2542, 2014 WL 6983242, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 9, 2014); see also
Vora v. Michaels, 613 F. App’x 132 (2015) (applying 28 U.S.C. §1915 to a
nonprisoner). As such, Judge Saporito’s Order, which conforms to the
requirements of 28 U.S.C. §1915, is clearly proper even though the plaintiff
is not a prisoner.
The plaintiff’s appeal is, at this time, premature. The court will dismiss
his appeal so that he may thoroughly review Judge Saporito’s Order, while
also providing the plaintiff with additional time to comply. The plaintiff has
provided this court with a declaration stating, in summary form, his financials.
(Doc. 11). This information was not presented to Judge Saporito at the time
the plaintiff’s second motion was pending. While this information is helpful, it
does not comply with Judge Saporito’s June 7, 2017 Order. The plaintiff
should comply with Judge Saporito’s instructions and is reminded that, while
there is a fundamental right to access the courts, the right to proceed in forma
pauperis in a civil case is a privilege, not a constitutional right. Shahin v. Sec’y
of Del., 532 F. App’x 123 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam). As such, it is subject to
limitations. Abdul-Akbar, 239 F.3d at 316. Accordingly, the matter will be
remanded back to Judge Saporito for further proceedings. An appropriate
order shall follow.
s/ Malachy E. Mannion
MALACHY E. MANNION
United States District Judge
Dated: July 6, 2017
O:\Mannion\shared\MEMORANDA - DJ\CIVIL MEMORANDA\2017 MEMORANDA\17-0788-01.wpd
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