United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
SHELIA K. VARNEDOE,  Plaintiff,
MEGAN J. BRENNAN, et al., Defendants.
CHRISTOPHER L. RAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
se plaintiff Shelia K. Varnedo seeks leave to pursue her
employment discrimination complaint, see doc. 1,
in forma pauperis (IFP). Doc. 2. She was ordered to
supplement her application to explain certain inconsistencies
and gaps in the information she provided to the Court to
evaluate her indigency. Doc. 4. Having finally provided that
information (doc. 6), the Court's Report and
Recommendation recommending dismissal for failure to comply
with a court order (doc. 5) is VACATED.
states that receives $1, 483 a month in disability benefits,
after deductions. Doc. 6 at 1. She relies on her
husband's income to pay their mortgage and food, and is
responsible for their other expenses totaling approximately
$1, 000 a month. Id. (listing a mobile phone plan,
entertainment, car insurance, utilities, credit card, and
“IRS” payments as recurring expenses). She does
not disclose her husband's income, but the Court is able
to conclude that it is sufficient to cover other expenses.
This leaves plaintiff with a monthly surplus of somewhere in
the neighborhood of $400 after she covers her half of their
plaintiff need not be absolutely destitute in order to
proceed IFP, Adkins v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours, 335
U.S. 331, 339 (1948), the fact that financing his own
litigation may cause some difficulty is not sufficient to
relieve a plaintiff of his obligation to pay his own way
where it is possible to do so without undue hardship.
Thomas v. Secretary of Dep't of Veterans
Affairs, 358 Fed.Appx. 115, 116 (11th Cir. 2009) (the
Court has wide discretion in ruling on IFP application, and
should grant the privilege “sparingly” in civil
cases for damages). Based on her disability income and dearth
of expenses, it appears that Varnedoe has sufficient
resources to allow her to pay a reduced filing fee in this
case without causing her to forgo the necessities of
life. The Court will therefore significantly
reduce the filing fee to $240, an amount the Court believes
Varnedoe can afford based on her application. Requiring
plaintiff to pay such a reduced fee is within the Court's
discretion. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a); see, e.g., Johnson
v. Next Day Blinds Corp., 2013 WL 656782 at *2 n. 1 (D.
Md. Feb. 21, 2013); Dukes-Smith v. Loyola Med. Ctr.,
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98934 at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 9, 2012);
Poslof v. Walton, 2012 WL 691767 at *3 (E.D. Cal.
Mar. 2, 2012), adopted, 2012 WL 968028 (E.D. Cal.
Mar. 21, 2102).
is unable to pay in one lump sum, plaintiff is further
authorized to pay the required fee over the course of three
monthly installments of $80 each. See, e.g., Chapman v.
Colvin, No. CV416-252, doc. 10 (Jan. 18, 2017). Her
first instalment must be paid within thirty days of service
of this Order, with all payments completed within ninety days
of service of this Order. After she has paid her first $80
instalment, the Court will screen her Complaint pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) in a separate order.
motion to proceed IFP (doc. 2) is thus
GRANTED in part. Plaintiff is
ORDERED to pay $240 in filing fees or face a
recommendation of dismissal.
 The Clerk is DIRECTED
to update the docket to conform with plaintiff's spelling
of her last name.
 Two important points must be
underscored. First, proceeding IFP is a privilege, not an
entitlement. See Rowland v. Cal. Men's Colony, Unit
II Men's Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 198 (1993).
And second, courts have discretion to afford litigants IFP
status; it's not automatic. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1)
(courts “may authorize the commencement”
of IFP actions); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25,
31 (1992); see also Marceaux v. Democratic Party, 79
Fed.Appx. 185, 186 (6th Cir. 2003) (no abuse of discretion
when court determined plaintiff could afford to pay the
filing fee without undue hardship because he has no room and
board expenses, owns a car, and spends the $250.00 earned
each month selling plasma on completely discretionary
“The trial court must be careful to avoid
construing the statute so narrowly that a litigant is
presented with a Hobson's choice between eschewing a
potentially meritorious claim or foregoing life's plain
necessities. But, the same even-handed care must be employed
to assure that federal funds are not squandered to
underwrite, at public expense, either frivolous claims or the
remonstrances of a suitor who is financially able, in whole
or in material part, to pull his own oar.” Temple
v. Ellerthorpe, 586 F.Supp. 848, 850 (D.R.I. 1984)
(internal cites omitted).
 The Court cautions plaintiff that
granting leave to proceed IFP in no way bears on the merits
of his case. The right to proceed IFP in the federal district
courts is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which authorizes
courts to dismiss cases sua sponte if: (1) the
allegation of poverty is untrue, (2) the action is frivolous
or malicious, (3) the complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or (4) the ...