United States District Court, D. Idaho
RANDALL L. TETZNER, Plaintiff,
CHRISTA HAZEL, Former Trustee President, Coeur d'Alene School District 271; TAMBRA PICKFORD, Y MORRISROE, TOM HEARN, DAVE EUBANKS, Trustees, Coeur d'Alene School District 271; MATT HANDELMAN, Former Superintendent, Coeur d'Alene School District 271; COEUR D'ALENE SCHOOL DISTRICT 271; CITY OF COEUR D'ALENE, IDAHO; COEUR D'ALENE POLICE DEPARTMENT; LEE R. WHITE, Chief of Police, Coeur d'Alene Police Department, JAY WILHELM, CRYSTAL SHAW, BUHL, Detectives, Coeur d'Alene Police Department; JOHN DOES 1 & 2, Coeur d'Alene Police Officers; JOHN DOES 3-100, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE EDWARD J. LODGE U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court in the above entitled matter are the Plaintiff
Randall Tetzner's Application to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis, Complaint, and related Motions. The Court
finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the
interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court
conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument, this matter is decided
on the record.
In Forma Pauperis Standard of Review
parties instituting any civil action, suit, or proceeding in
a district court of the United States, except an application
for a writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of
$400.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed
despite a plaintiff's failure to prepay the entire fee
only if the plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in
forma pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d
1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 2009); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1)
(“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.”).
order to qualify for IFP status under § 1915, the
plaintiff must submit an Application and Affidavit showing he
or she lacks sufficient funds to pay the filing fee and that
the suit is not frivolous or malicious. Escobedo v.
Applebees, 787 F.3d 1226, 1234 (9th Cir. 2015). An
affidavit is sufficient where it states that the plaintiff
“cannot because of his [or her] poverty pay or give
security for the costs and still be able to provide himself
and dependents with the necessities of life.”
Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S.
331, 339 (1948). A plaintiff need not demonstrate they are
absolutely destitute in order to meet the requirements of the
statute. Escobedo, 787 F.3d at 1234; see also
Adkins, 335 U.S. at 339 (Litigants are not required to
contribute their “last dollar” or “make
themselves and their dependents wholly destitute.”).
Nonetheless, 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); see also Escobedo,
supra. Motions to proceed in forma pauperis
under § 1915 are left to the sound discretion of the
trial court and are granted only in exceptional circumstances
where the movant has made the requisite showing. Id.
Tetzner's IFP Application includes an affirmation stating
he is unable to pay the costs of these proceedings. (Dkt. 1.)
The Application sets forth Mr. Tetzner and his spouse's
expected monthly income ($3, 000.00), expenses ($3, 970.00),
assets (home ($125, 000), bank accounts ($2, 501.83), and two
vehicles ($450.00)), and liabilities ($5, 500 medical bills).
Mr. Tetzner has three children; two are minors and one is an
adult with sever autism. The Application is further supported
by two sealed documents describing other expected expenses
and circumstances. The first document details Mr.
Tetzner's monthly costs relating to medical and household
bills, the care of his children, and the impact of his own
disability on his employment options. (Dkt. 6.) The second
document, provides further information about the
household's financial circumstances. (Dkt. 9.) Having
considered the Application and supporting materials filed in
this matter, the Court finds that Mr. Tetzner does not
qualify for IFP status in this case.
determining what level of income constitutes poverty for
purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court considered
the poverty guidelines set by the United States Department of
Health and Human Services as one measure. Those guidelines
set the 2018 poverty level for a family of five at $29, 420
annually. See 83 Fed. Reg. 2642, 2643 (Jan. 18,
2018). The household's annual income as
reflected on the IFP Application is approximately $36, 000
which places Mr. Tetzner above the guidelines' poverty
level. The Court has also considered the household expenses
and hardships discussed in the filings which Mr. Tetzner
represents exceed their monthly income. (Dkt. 1, 6, 9.) While
the Court is sympathetic to Mr. Tetzner's financial
circumstances, the balance of his household's expected
monthly incomes, expenses, and assets put him above the
poverty requirement needed to qualify for IFP status. Mr.
Tetzner and his spouse are both employed. While their wages
are modest and there have been some lapses in salary (Dkt.
6), their joint incomes are above the poverty guidelines.
See Escobedo, 787 F.3d at 1236 (Courts may consider
the income of an IFP applicant's spouse if a reasonable
inquiry into the spouse's assets and income establishes
that those assets and income are available to the IFP
applicant.). In addition, Mr. Tetzner owns a home, two
vehicles, and has money in his bank accounts. Taking all of
these considerations into account, Court finds Mr. Tetzner
does not qualify for IFP status because the household income
and assets indicate he is able to pay the filing fee in this
these reasons, the IFP Application is denied. Mr. Tetzner is
directed to pay the initial filing fee of $400.00 on or
before September 14, 2018. The Court expressly notifies Mr.
Tetzner that failure to timely pay the filing fee as directed
herein may result in dismissal of this case without further
notice. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).
THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:
Application for Leave to Proceed in forma Pauperis (Dkt. 1)
is DENIED. Plaintiff is ORDERED TO
PAY the statutory filing fee of
$400.00 for this action on or
before September 14, 2018. Failure
to pay the ...