Woodburn v. Internal Revenue Service

Filing 2

ORDER denying 1 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis ; plaintiff has 21 days from the date of this Order to either pay the filing fee or to voluntarily dismiss this matter; signed by Judge Ronald B. Leighton.(DN) Modified on 4/24/2017 (DN). (cc to pltf)

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1 HONORABLE RONALD B. LEIGHTON 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 7 8 WENDIANE WOODBURN, CASE NO. C16-5962 RBL 9 Plaintiff, 10 v. ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS 11 INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, 12 Defendant. 13 14 THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Woodburn’s Motion for Leave to 15 Proceed in forma pauperis [Dkt. #1], supported by her proposed complaint against the Fresno 16 office of the Internal Revenue Service. Woodburn seeks an Order compelling the IRS to process 17 tax refunds she claims she timely sought, for the 2009 and 2010 tax years. The refunds total 18 $5049, and she also seeks punitive damages and compensation for pain and suffering. 19 A district court may permit indigent litigants to proceed in forma pauperis upon 20 completion of a proper affidavit of indigency. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The court has broad 21 discretion in resolving the application, but “the privilege of proceeding in forma pauperis in civil 22 actions for damages should be sparingly granted.” Weller v. Dickson, 314 F.2d 598, 600 (9th Cir. 23 1963), cert. denied 375 U.S. 845 (1963). The standard governing in forma pauperis eligibility 24 ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS - 1 1 under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) is “unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” A person is 2 eligible if they are unable to pay the costs of filing and still provide the necessities of life. See 3 Rowland v. Cal. Men's Colony, Unit II Men’s Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 203 (1993) 4 (internal quotations omitted). Moreover, a court should “deny leave to proceed in forma pauperis 5 at the outset if it appears from the face of the proposed complaint that the action is frivolous or 6 without merit.” Tripati v. First Nat’l Bank & Trust, 821 F.2d 1368, 1369 (9th Cir. 1987) 7 (citations omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). An in forma pauperis complaint is 8 frivolous if “it ha[s] no arguable substance in law or fact.” Id. (citing Rizzo v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 9 527, 529 (9th Cir. 1985); see also Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1228 (9th Cir. 1984). 10 While the Court is sympathetic to Woodburn’s circumstances, she failed to provide 11 evidence of her indigency sufficient to merit leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Despite 12 substantial monthly expenses and negligible savings, Woodburn’s employment provides her with 13 a monthly salary of $1,500 and an additional annual salary of $14,400. She also possess $18,000 14 in home equity. The Court allows litigants to proceed in forma pauperis only when they have 15 sufficiently demonstrated an inability to pay the filing fee. This generally includes incarcerated 16 individuals with no assets and persons who are unemployed and dependent on government 17 assistance. See, e.g., Ilagan v. McDonald, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79889, at *2 (D. Nev. June 16, 18 2016) (granting petition based on unemployment and zero income); Reed v. Martinez, 2015 U.S. 19 Dist. LEXIS 80629, at *1, 2015 WL 3821514 (D. Nev. June 19, 2015) (granting petition for 20 incarcerated individual on condition that applicant provides monthly payments towards filing 21 fee). It does not include those whose access to the court system is not blocked by their financial 22 constraints, but rather are in a position of having to weigh the financial constraints pursuing a 23 case imposes. See Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Charles W. Sears Real Estate, Inc., 686 F. Supp. 385, 24 ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS - 2 1 388 (N.D. N.Y.), aff’d, 865 F.2d 22 (2d Cir. 1988) (denying petition to proceed IFP because 2 petitioner and his wife had a combined annual income of between $34,000 and $37,000). 3 Woodburn has a total annual income of approximately $32,400. She has failed to demonstrate a 4 level of economic necessity similar to those who have received IFP status. 5 For this reason, Woodburn’s Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis [Dkt. #1] is 6 DENIED. Woodburn shall pay the filing fee or voluntarily dismiss her claims within 21 days of 7 this order. Otherwise, her petition will be dismissed without further notice. 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. 9 Dated this 24th day of April, 2017. 11 A 12 Ronald B. Leighton United States District Judge 10 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS - 3

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