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Naum v. Idaho Dhw

April 7, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge


Before the Court is Plaintiff's Application for In Forma Pauperis Status. The Clerk of Court conditionally filed Plaintiff's Complaint, subject to review by the Court to determine whether Plaintiff is entitled to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant the Petition (Docket No. 7) but dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Docket No. 3) with leave to amend.


Plaintiff James Naum brings this action against employees of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), the Idaho Governor's Office, and the United States District Court in Boise, Idaho, claiming damages related to his denial of DHHS benefits. Plaintiff applied for DHHS-DHW "safety net" benefits in January 2009. According to Plaintiff, his application was denied on March 9, 2009 due to incomplete paperwork concerning Plaintiff's bank information. However, Plaintiff was notified in a letter dated June 5, 2009 that he was eligible for food stamps and for a Medicare program that "pays for Medicine Part B premiums . . . and deductibles for income qualified beneficiaries." Complaint (Docket No. 3) at 2. Despite receiving this notice, Plaintiff asserts that he never received the described benefits, and on June 11, 2009, DHW Hearing Officer Edward P. Lockwood issued an order "upholding the denial of benefits" to Plaintiff. Id. at 3.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants acted dishonestly and improperly in the handling of his claims for benefits and in his pursuit of this action. According to Plaintiff, the unconstitutional policies and actions of Defendants resulted in the denial of benefits to which he was entitled. Plaintiff also asserts common law tort claims.


A. Application To Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Pursuant to federal statute, "any court of the United States may authorize the commencement, prosecution or defense of any suit, action or proceeding, civil or criminal, . . . without prepayment of fees or security therefor." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). In order to qualify for in forma pauperis status, Plaintiff must submit an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets he possesses and that, "because of [his] poverty, [he] is unable to pay the costs of said proceeding or give security therefore, and that [he] believe[s] that [he is] entitled to relief." Id.

The affidavit is sufficient if it states that the plaintiff, because of his poverty, cannot "pay or give security for the costs" and still be able to provide himself and dependents "with necessities of life." Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Numours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948). The affidavit must "state the facts as to affiant's poverty with some particularity, definiteness and certainty." United States v. McQuade, 647 F.2d 938, 940 (9th Cir. 1981) (internal quotation omitted).

In support of his Motion, Petitioner submitted an affidavit saying that he:

(1) is currently unemployed; (2) receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in the amount of $780.30 per month (approximately $9,363.60 per year); (3) has a bank account with a total of $5.21; and (4) has no other assets of value. Application for In Forma Pauperis Status (Docket No. 1). Petitioner's annual income of $9,363.60 per year is below $10,830.00, the federal poverty measure for a single individual set forth in the United States Department of Health and Human Services' 2009 Poverty Guidelines.*fn1 Accordingly, the Court finds it appropriate to grant Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis, which allows Plaintiff to pay the filing fee over time. The Court will order Plaintiff to pay $25.00 monthly to the Clerk of Court on or before the last day of every month, starting in June 2010, until the balance of $350.00 is paid in full.

If, in light of this Order, Plaintiff chooses not to proceed, he may file a notice of voluntary dismissal prior to June 30, 2010. If Plaintiff voluntarily dismisses this case, he will not be required to pay any part of his filing fee. If Plaintiff chooses to proceed and amend his Complaint, he is advised that he will be required to pay, in increments, the full filing fee for having filed the Complaint, regardless of whether his case is eventually dismissed or is unsuccessful. Plaintiff is further advised that failure to pay the monthly filing fee may result in dismissal of this case without further notice.

B. Initial Review of Plaintiff's Complaint

The Court is required to conduct an initial review of complaints brought by litigants who are granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(e)(2). The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a claim that is frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. In conducting this review, pro se pleadings must be liberally construed and pro se plaintiffs must be given the benefit of any doubt. See Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). ...

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