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Greydanus v. Benway

United States District Court, D. Idaho

November 6, 2018



          B. Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Court Judge


         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Petition (Dkt. 1) to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. Previously 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 (Dkt. 1). Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following order dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint (Dkt. 2) with leave to amend.


         Arthur W. Greydanus submitted a Complaint and exhibit list comprised of 97 total pages (Dkt. 2). Only a distilled version of the factual record is necessary for purposes of review. At its core, the Complaint is the result of a two-year dispute between landlords, tenants, and neighbors.

         In 2016, Greydanus and his son moved to Athol, Idaho from California with their belongings and a travel trailer. Ex. B, Dkt. 2-1. In June 2016, Defendants John and Sherrie Benway (the “Benways”), husband and wife, met Greydanus on their property to discuss leasing two parcels of land, lots “P-11” and “P-12, ” to the Greydanus family. Id. By July 2016, Greydanus successfully negotiated a lease-to-purchase agreement with the Benways, which the parties orally agreed to pursue after a one-year probationary period. Id. Based on these mutual understandings, Greydanus began making improvements to the property. Id. By December 2016, Greydanus completed construction of a cabin, storage shed, livestock stables, and a two-story barn on the property. Ex. E., Dkt. 2-3. At no point was any lease, deed of trust, or contract signed by either party.

         In 2017, with no successful subsequent negotiations, [1] the parties' relationship began to sour. On June 1, 2017, Sherrie Benway unsuccessfully requested that the Greydanus family leave the premises. Ex. D, Dkt. 2-2. On July 11, the Benways increased the previously agreed $400 monthly rent to $1, 500. Compl. ¶ 5, Dkt. 2. After Greydanus refused to pay increased rent, the Benways filed for an expedited eviction proceeding on July 12, 2017. Ex. C, Dkt. 2-2. That same day, Greydanus filed a construction lien on lots “P-11” and “P-12” for $41, 000 in improvements made to the property. Ex. E, Dkt. 2-3. It was around this time that the police became increasingly involved with the dispute. Ex. F, Dkt. 2-3.

         On August 23, 2017, a state court determined that Greydanus had agreed to a month-to-month lease agreement with the Benways and approved the eviction. Ex. D, Dkt. 2-2. That night, Greydanus's landlord came to the property to deliver mail, but a fight ensued between Greydanus and at least three other individuals. Compl., Dkt. 2. When Bonner County Sheriff's officers arrived, Greydanus and his son were both arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Ex. F, Dkt. 2-3. As a result of the skirmish, both Greydanus and a neighbor required medical treatment at a local hospital. Dkt. 2; Ex. A, Dkt. 2-1. Greydanus and his son remained in custody for roughly one month. Dkt. 2.

         While Greydanus and his son were in county jail, Sherrie Benway searched through their belongings and stole approximately $5, 000 worth of personal property. Id. After his release, Greydanus was granted a judgment against Sherrie Benway in small claims court. Id. On February 27, 2018, Greydanus asked the Sheriff's Department to arrest Sherrie Benway for grand theft. Id. On February 28, the Sheriff's Department arrested, instead, Greydanus's son on a California warrant. Id.

         Before being ordered to pay $25, 000 in restitution to Jimmie Bailey at a hearing on June 5, 2018, Greydanus submitted this Complaint (Dkt. 2) in District Court. Ex. A, Dkt. 2-1. The Complaint alleges, inter alia, a conspiracy amongst the Bonner County Administration and the Benways to deprive Greydanus of his property.


         1. Application for In Forma Pauperis Status

         In order for any litigant to file a civil complaint in federal court, that litigant must either pay the filing fee in full at the time of filing or seek in forma pauperis status, which allows the litigant to pay the filing fee over time. In either case, the litigant must pay the full filing fee for having filed the complaint, regardless of whether that person's case is eventually dismissed or is unsuccessful.

         Greydanus has requested in forma pauperis status. To determine whether a party should be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, a court should review the overall financial situation of the applicant, including all of the assets and liabilities of the applicant. See Zaun v. Dobbin,628 F.2d 990, 992-93 (7th Cir.1980). In support of his request, Greydanus filed an Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (Dkt. No. 1). Greydanus includes a statement, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), that he is “unable to pay the filing fee at the time of filing as a result of [his] poverty.” Id. at p. 1. Greydanus has also included documentation showing that he is a recipient of Social Security benefits, unemployed, and without a permanent residence. Id. at pp. 2-7. ...

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