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Williams v. Heap

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

August 5, 2019

IAN HEAP, et al., Defendants.



         On April 19, 2019, this Court recommended the dismissal of a complaint filed by plaintiff against multiple defendants because he failed to comply with a Court order and failed to update his address with the Court. CV419-061, doc. 5. That recommendation was adopted by the assigned District Judge on May 10, 2019 when plaintiff failed to file objections. Id., doc. 7. Plaintiff has since filed a series of cases alleging factually similar circumstances against several of the defendants in the previous cases. He has also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis in each of these cases. These applications, however, do not contain sufficient indicia of indigency. Plaintiff acknowledges that he is employed, but inconsistently reports his income as $500 weekly (CV419- 136, doc. 2); and $1500 weekly (CV419-145, doc. 2)). He variously claims no living expenses (CV419-136, doc. 2); and expenses totaling $1850 per month (CV419-145, doc. 2). He indicates that he has debts and financial obligations to Memorial Hospital, Candler Hospital, and Curtis V. Cooper (see e.g., CV419-146, doc. 2 at 2) but does not indicate the amount of those debts or whether he is on any payment schedule. He also inconsistently claims no other income and some other income. Compare CV491-145 with CV419-147.

         Wary of indigency claims where information appears inconsistent or incomplete, and cognizant of how easily one may consume a public resource with no financial skin in the game, [1] this Court demands supplemental information from dubious IFP movants. See, e.g., Kareem v. Home Source Rental, 986 F.Supp.2d 1345 (S.D. Ga. 2013); Robbins v. Universal Music Grp., 2013 WL 1146865 at *1 (S.D. Ga. Mar.19, 2013).[2]

         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. Chisolm, 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, 2013 WL 842515 (11th Cir. Mar. 6, 2013) (“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.”).[3] Plaintiff's applications for IFP status omit material details and conflict with each other. He therefore must disclose[4] the following information within 14 days from the date of this Order:

(1) The value of the income he received in business, profession, or other self-employment, rent payments, interest, or dividends;
(2) 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;
(3) Whether he possesses a cellular telephone and any home electronics equipment (include estimated value and related carrying expenses, such as carrier and subscription fees);
(4) Whether he has any credit or debit cards;
(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 (within the next year) future income;
(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).

         Providing this information will better illuminate Plaintiff's true financial condition. In that regard, he must again declare the facts he pleads to be true, and sign his name to that declaration -- 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 Plaintiffs convenience. Failure to comply with this directive will result in a recommendation of dismissal on IFP-deficiency grounds alone. Kareem v. Home Source Rental, 2014 WL 24347 at *1 (S.D. Ga. Jan. 2, 2014).

         Since the deficiencies described above apply to all of Williams' IFP applications, he must supplement all of them. Rather than file separate documents in each of his cases, Williams is DIRECTED to file a single document disclosing the requested information listing the numbers of each case he wishes to pursue IFP. The Court will construe his failure to include any of his pending cases as a voluntary dismissal of the omitted case. The Clerk is DIRECTED to enter that document in each of Williams' listed cases. The Court will then determine his eligibility to proceed in forma pauperis.

         SO ...

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