United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
May 19, 2015
FRANKLIN JOE FIELDS, Plaintiff,
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION and WESTGATE APARTMENT, Defendants.
G. R. SMITH, Magistrate Judge.
Proceeding pro se, Franklin Joe Fields has filed a form complaint against the Social Security Administration and Westgate Apartments. Doc. 1. He left the "Statement of Claim" portion of the form blank, but stated in the "Relief' section that he wants "[t]he money I over paid I need that back." Doe. 1 at 3-4, 5. Beyond that, the Court cannot discern what claims Fields asserts.
Courts are obligated to liberally construe pro se complaints, but they may not serve "as de facto counsel for the litigant or rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading in order to sustain an action." Campbell v. Air Jamaica Ltd., 760 F.3d 1165, 1168 (11th Cir. 2014); Wilkerson v. H & S Lee, Inc., 2010 WL 2942635 at * 1 (S.D. Ga. June 22, 2010). Here, Fields hasn't even given the Court something to construe - he simply left the "statement of claim" portion of his complaint blank. Nevertheless, because of Fields' pro se status, and in view of Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)'s admonition to give leave freely "when justice so requires, " the Court will give Fields another chance to explain the facts giving rise to his decision to file this suit.
This time, however, Fields must include a "short and plain statement of the claim showing" that he is entitled to the relief he seeks. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That means he must present the Court with the factual allegations that support his claims. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (complaints must contain factual allegations "sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level"). Mere conclusions that that defendants have harmed Fields, or that they violated the law, will not do. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Fields must file his amended complaint within 14 days of the day this Order is served or face a recommendation of dismissal.
Fields, who lists a non-prison address, Id. at 5, also seeks leave to file his case in forma pauperis ("IFP"). Doc. 2. The Court is not satisfied with his indigency affidavit. It undeniably costs money to live, and plaintiff not only swears he has no assets of any kind, but also fails to disclose any income he may have despite claiming a $725/month rent payment. Id. at 1-2. Too, Fields claims he supports his son, Franklin Fields Jr., on his seemingly non-existent income. Id. at 2. That's plainly not credible. Wary of such indigency claims and cognizant of how easily one may consume a public resource with no financial skin in the game,  this Court demands supplemental information from dubious IFP movants. See, e.g., Kareem v. Home Source Rental, 986 F.Supp.2d 1345, 1346-48 (S.D. Ga. 2013); Robbins v. Universal Music Group, 2013 WL 1146865 at * 1 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 19, 2013).
To that end, it tolerates no lies. Ross v. Fogam, 2011 WL 2516221 at * 1 (S.D. Ga. June 23, 2011) ("Ross, a convicted criminal, chose to burden this Court with falsehoods, not honesty. The Court thus rejects Ross's show cause explanation, as it is clear that he purposefully chose to disguise his filing history and financial status."); Johnson v. Chisoim, 2011 WL 3319872 at * 1 n. 3 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 1, 2011) ("This Court does not hesitate to invoke dismissal and other sanctions against inmates who lie to or otherwise deceive this Court."); see also Moss v. Premiere Credit of North America, LLC, CV411-123, doe. 54 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 6, 2013) (Eleventh Circuit Order: "Moss's [IFP on appeal] motion is DENIED because her allegation of poverty appears to be untrue in light of her financial affidavit and filings in the district court.").
Given the totality of the circumstances, it will do likewise here. Therefore, within 14 days from the date this Order is filed, Fields shall disclose to the Court the following information:
(1) What he spends each month for basic living expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities, and the dollar value of any public or private assistance he may receive;
(2) Where he gets the money to pay for those expenses (include all "off-the-books" income, whether in cash or in-kind);
(3) Whether he owns any means of transportation and, if he does not, whether he has regular access to same, as owned by another (including a rental company);
(4) Whether he possesses a cellular telephone, TV set, and any home electronics equipment (include estimated value and related carrying expenses, such as carrier and subscription fees);
(5) Whether he is the account owner, or has signature power, as to any accounts with a bank or other financial institution;
(6) Whether he anticipates any future income within the next year;
(7) A list of any other cases showing an indigency-based, filing fee reduction or waiver granted by any other court (include the full case name, case number and the name of the court granting same).
Answering these points will better illuminate Fields' true financial condition. In that regard, he must again declare the facts he pleads to be true under penalty of perjury. If he does not use a preprinted IFP form to respond (hence, if he uses a blank sheet of paper), he must insert this above his signature: "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date)." 28 U.S.C. § 1746(1). The Clerk is DIRECTED to serve with this Order a blank IFP form for Fields' convenience. Failure to comply with this directive will result in a recommendation of dismissal. See Kareem v. Home Source Rental, 2014 WL 24347 at *1 (S.D. Ga. Jan. 2, 2014).