United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
ROBERTO A. LANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Charles Ray Johnson filed four pro se lawsuits captioned
above and requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis in
each. Suits brought in forma pauperis are subject to a
two-step screening process, which first requires the
plaintiff to demonstrate financial eligibility to proceed
without prepayment of fees. Martin-Trigona v.
Stewart, 691 F.2d 856, 857 (8th Cir. 1982); see
e.g., Lundahl v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 2018 WL 3682503,
* 1 (D.S.D. 2018). A person may be granted permission to
proceed in forma pauperis if he or she "submits an
affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such
[person] possesses [and] that the person is unable to pay
such fees or give security therefor." 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(1). The litigant is not required to demonstrate
absolute destitution, and the determination of whether a
litigant is sufficiently impoverished to qualify to so
proceed is committed to the court's discretion. Lee
v. McDonald's Corp., 231 F.3d 456 (8th Cir. 2000);
Cross v. Gen. Motors Corp., 721 F.2d 1152, 1157 (8th
Cir. 1983); see, e.g., Babino v. Janssen & Son,
2017 WL 6813137, *1 (D.S.D. 2017). In light of the
information Johnson has provided in his financial affidavits,
this Court finds that he may proceed in forma pauperis.
given that Johnson has now filed several lawsuits in this
district, it is incumbent upon this Court to inform Johnson
that "the decision whether to grant or deny in forma
pauperis status is within the sound discretion of the trial
court." Cross v. General Motors Corp., 721 F.2d
1152, 1157 (8th Cir. 1983) (internal citations omitted). A
judge, "after weighing the relevant factors" may
"properly determine that a litigant's abusive
conduct merits a prefiling injunction." In re
Pointer, 345 Fed.Appx. 204, 205 (8th Cir. 2009).
Plaintiffs "who in bad faith consistently abuse the
judicial process and privilege of litigating at public
expense" may be subject to pre-filing review procedures
"restricting the availability of cost-free access to
court." Bennett v. Miller, 2014 WL 60092, *7
(D.S.D. 2014)'(quoting Peck v. Hoff, 660 F.2d
371, 374 (8th Cir. 1981)). Johnson's multiple frivolous
lawsuits may ultimately support such an injunction should he
continue to file meritless suits.
second step of the in forma pauperis screening process
requires a district court to determine whether a pro se civil
action against a governmental entity or employee should be
dismissed as "frivolous, malicious, or fail[ing] to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted" or for
"seek[ing] monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2);
Martin-Trigona, 691 F.2d at 857; see also
Lundahl, at *1. Pro, se complaints must be liberally
construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007); see also Native Am. Council of Tribes v.
Solem, 691 F.2d 382 (8th Cir. 1982). Notwithstanding its
liberal construction, a pro se complaint may be dismissed as
frivolous "where it lacks an arguable basis either in
law or in fact;" that is, where the claim is "based
on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or where,
having "pierce[d] the veil of the complaint's
factual allegations," the court determines those facts
are "fantastic or delusional." Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 327-28 (1989) (internal
citations omitted); see also Denton v. Hernandez,
504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Complaints are "malicious"
where the plaintiff knows that such complaint is based on
false allegations. In re Tyler, 839 F.2d 1290, 1293
(8th Cir. 1988) (internal citations omitted).
may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim "as
a matter of law if it is clear that no relief could be
granted under any set of facts that could be proved
consistent with the allegations." Neitzke, 490
U.S. at 327 (1989) (internal citations omitted). To avoid
dismissal, a complaint "must show that the plaintiff
'is entitled to relief,' ... by alleging
'sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Torti v. Hoag, 868 F.3d 666, 671 (8th Cir. 2017)
(quoting In re Pre-Filled Propane Tank Antitrust
Litig., 860 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2017) (en
banc), Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), and Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). To determine whether a
claim is plausible on its face is a "context-specific
task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679 (2009). A complaint must allege "more
than labels and conclusions." Torti, 868 F.3d
at 671 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
Claims Against Billions Auto, Santander Consumer,
does not identify the basis for the Court's jurisdiction
in this Complaint. 4:18-CV- 4157-RAL, Doc. 1. Rather, Johnson
claims the following grounds for filing the Complaint in
federal court: (1) conspiracy to defraud, (2) conspiracy to
defraud of Civil Rights, and (3) intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Id. The Complaint was devoid of
specific allegations against Defendants other than asserting:
See how there is 3 to partake in this business deal I have as
agreement with Santander in reguards [sic] to the car I
bought & financed. I would like my car back or the amount
that the car was priced at along with the down payment, I
have to pay to Santander to be considered as the first
verdict to righting this situation. If this isn't a
verdict that is acceptable then I am open.
Id. at 3. Johnson attached a supplement that
explains that he purchased a Toyota Camry from Billion Auto
with the assistance of salesperson Bill. Doc. 1 -1. Santander
bank financed Johnson's car purchase. Id.
Eventually, the car stopped working and Johnson contacted
Bill. Id. Bill appears to have recommended that
Johnson allow the car to be repossessed. Id. Johnson
also alleges that a tech from Billions said came to look at
the car and said "it was a simple fix."
Claims Against Hoogendoorn Construction
does not identify a valid basis for the Court's
jurisdiction in the Complaint. 4:19-CV-4034-RAL, Doc. 1.
Rather, Johnson claims breach of contract and intentional
infliction of emotional distress as the grounds for filing
the Complaint in federal court. Id. Johnson alleges
that Hoogendoorn Construction did not pay or withhold taxes
on Johnson's wages. Id. at 3. Rather,
Hoogendoorn provided Johnson a 1099-MISC form. Id.
Johnson alleges that Hoogendoorn agreed to pay and withhold
taxes on Johnson's wages. Id.
Claims Against McDonald's Corporation
does not identify a valid basis for the Court's
jurisdiction in his Complaint. 4:19-CV-4035, Doc. 1. Rather,
Johnson claims intentional infliction of emotional distress
and unlawful detainment as the grounds for filing the
Complaint in federal court. Id. Johnson alleges that
he was improperly fired from his job at McDonalds for working
overtime. Id. at 3.