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Paul v. Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen

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

January 8, 2020

KEVIN J. PAUL, SR. and GLORIA BYNES, Plaintiffs,



         Plaintiffs, appearing pro se, have submitted a complaint alleging discrimination under 42 U.S.C. §2000a. Doc. 1. They seek to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP). Doc. 2. Their joint application to proceed IFP, however, is deficient and requires amendment and clarification.

         The application includes multiple inconsistencies and omissions. As income, plaintiffs represent that they earn $778.00 bi-weekly, but do not identify their employers. Doc. 2 at 1. Additionally, plaintiffs list as an expense “car payment, ” but do not claim the associated vehicle as property or the related loan as a debt. Id. at 2. They also identify several categories of monthly expenses, but only categorize costs related to dependents. Id. Wary of indigency claims where information appears to have been omitted, 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. Dec. 9, 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] As plaintiffs' application for IFP status is not sufficiently clear, they are DIRECTED to amend their application to disclose[4] the following information within 14 days from the date of this Order:

(1) The identities of plaintiffs' current employer or employers or, if not currently employed, the source of any income reflected in the IFP application;
(2) Any assets or property owned (e.g., vehicles, jewelry, or real property);
(3) An itemization of monthly expenses; and
(4) Any debts or other financial obligations (e.g. car loans).

         Though parties may jointly bring an action arising from a common “transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences” or involving a common “question of law or fact, ” the court must be satisfied that each individual seeking IPF status qualifies. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 20(a)(1). Though the application to proceed IFP is signed by both plaintiffs, it is unclear whether the information listed relates to both or only one litigant.[5] Plaintiffs are DIRECTED to file separate applications to proceed IFP reflecting their respective finances or, if plaintiffs comingle their finances-shared assets, expenses, debts and bank accounts-to clarify their relationship.

         Providing this information will better illuminate Plaintiffs' true financial condition. In that regard, they must again declare the facts they plead to be true and sign their respective names to their declarations- under penalty of perjury. If they do not use a preprinted IFP form to respond, they must insert the following language above their 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 two blank IFP forms 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).

         SO ORDERED.



[1] “[A] litigant whose filing fees and court costs are assumed by the public . . . lacks an economic incentive to refrain from filing frivolous, malicious, or repetitive lawsuits.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989). Courts thus deploy appropriate scrutiny. See Hobby v. Beneficial Mortg. Co. of Va., 2005 WL 5409003 at *7 (E.D. Va. June 3, 2005) (debtor denied IFP status where, although she was unable to find employment as a substitute teacher, she had not shown she is unable to work and earn income in other ways); In re Fromal, 151 B.R. 733, 735 (E.D. Va. 1993) (denying IFP application where debtor was licensed attorney and accountant and she offered no reason why she cannot find employment), cited in In re Zow, 2013 WL 1405533 at *2 (Bkrtcy. S.D. Ga. Mar. 4, 2013) (denying IFP to “highly educated” bankruptcy debtor who, inter alia, had “not shown he is physically unable to work or earn income in other ways.”); Nixon v. United Parcel Service, 2013 WL 1364107 at *1-2 (M.D. Ga. ...

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