United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
KHALILAH A. SHAREEF, heir apparent for deceased WILLIAM LINDYREID, Plaintiff,
SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, et al., Defendants.
E. SELF, III, JUDGE.
pro se, Plaintiff Khalilah A. Shareef filed this
lawsuit alleging, inter alia, violations of the Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et
seq. ("FDCPA"). See, e.g., [Doc. 4 at
p. 2]. Before the Court is Plaintiff's Application to
Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs
[Doc. 2] in which she seeks leave to file the above-captioned
lawsuit in forma pauperis. As discussed in greater
detail below, the Court GRANTS her request
to proceed in forma pauperis but
DISMISSES her Amended Complaint [Doc. 4]
without prejudice as frivolous because as a
Chapter 7 debtor, she does not have standing to bring this
law allows the Court to waive payment of a filing fee if a
plaintiff's application indicates an inability to pay. 28
U.S.C. § 1915. A plaintiff's application is
sufficient to warrant a waiver of the filing fee if it
"represents that the litigant, because of [her] poverty,
is unable to pay for the court fees and costs, and to support
and provide necessities for [herself] and [her]
dependents." Martinez v. Kristi Kleaners, Inc.,
364 F.3d 1305, 1307 (11th Cir. 2004).
review of Plaintiff's Application, her form indicates
that her monthly expenses consist of utility bills in the
amount of $240, that she has no rent or mortgage obligation,
and that she owns a home valued at $91, 800. [Doc. 2 at pp.
3-4]. However, the Court also notes that Plaintiff
"filed bankruptcy [on November 4, 2019, ] because of
hardship." [Id. at p. 5]. Although she fails to
indicate "how" as instructed on the Court's
form, Plaintiff represents that she expects a major change to
her monthly income or expenses within the next 12 months.
[Id.]. She also states that she does not expect to
spend any money for expenses or attorney fees in conjunction
with this lawsuit. [Id.]. Based on her Application,
the Court finds that Plaintiff is nonetheless unable to pay
the costs of commencing this action in her current financial
state. Therefore, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's Application to Proceed in District Court
Without Prepaying Fees or Costs [Doc. 2]
district court allows a plaintiff to proceed in forma
vaurperis, it is obligated to proceed with a screening
of that plaintiff's complaint to ensure that it states a
claim for which relief may be granted. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915, "the court shall dismiss the case at any
time if the court determines that" a plaintiff's
allegation of poverty is untrue, the action is frivolous or
malicious or fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
to this case, the Court verified that Plaintiff did, in fact,
file a voluntary bankruptcy petition under Chapter 7 on
November 4, 2019. In re Khalilah An-Nura Shareef,
Ch. 7 No. 19-52084 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. Nov. 4, 2019), ECF No. 1.
When a debtor files a Chapter 7 petition, her assets (subject
to certain exemptions) are immediately transferred to a
bankruptcy estate, and the Chapter 7 trustee is responsible
for selling the property in the estate and distributing the
proceeds to creditors. 11 U.S.C. §§ 541(a)(1),
704(a)(1), 726; see also Slater v. United States Steel
Corp., 871 F.3d 1174, 1179-80 (11th Cir. 2017).
of the fact that Plaintiff does not state in her Amended
Complaint when the named-Defendants violated the
relevant portions of the FDCPA, whatever violations they
committed, if any, ostensibly occurred prior to the filing of
her Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Thus, any potential
recovery from those claims would be deemed prepetition assets
that would go to pay her creditors from the underlying
Chapter 7 case. Cf. In re Lauer, No.
3:17-bk-1199-JAF, 2018 WL 7017734, at *2 (Bankr. M.D. Fla.
Jan. 12, 2018) (finding that recovery on purely state common
law tort claims would be a prepetition asset). And finally,
because these claims are considered prepetition assets,
Plaintiff forfeits whatever recovery she may receive from
them to the bankruptcy estate, and only the Chapter 7 trustee
has standing to pursue this civil legal claim unless the
trustee abandons the asset and returns the claim to the
possession and control of Plaintiff. Slater, 871
F.3d at 1179 (citing Parker v. Wendy's Int'l,
Inc., 365 F.3d 1268, 1272 (11th Cir. 2004)).
Accordingly, Plaintiff has no standing to bring this suit,
and the Court DISMISSES it as frivolous.
Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. 1]
and her Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Doc. 4]
are DENIED as moot.