United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS
R. Underhill United States District Judge
plaintiff, Darnell Walker, is an inmate currently
incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution in Suffield, Connecticut. On September 12, 2016,
I vacated a prior order granting Walker's application for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis because he had
included false statements in the application pertaining to
his income during the twelve month period prior to filing
this action. See Order, Doc. No. 7. Specifically, I
noted that the ledger statement from Walker's prisoner
account for the period of February 10, 2016 to August 10,
2016 reflected deposits to the account of $50.00 or more at
least once a month beginning on March 24, 2016. See
Doc. No. 2-1. In addition, on January 13, 2016, Walker
reached an agreement with the defendants in four cases filed
in this court to settle those cases for a sum of $2, 800.00.
See Settlement Agreement, Doc. No. 124, Walker
v. Quiros, No. 3:11-cv-00082 (MPS) (D. Conn.). Walker
neglected to list any of the deposits to his account or to
mention the settlement agreement or the amount due to him
pursuant to that agreement in his application for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis.
Walker's allegation of indigence was untrue and he had
not demonstrated that he was unable to pay the $400.00 filing
fee, I denied the application for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and directed Walker to pay the filing
fee. In response to that order, Walker filed a
declaration-which the Clerk docketed as a motion for
reconsideration, Doc. No. 8-a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, Doc. No. 9, and a new application to proceed
in forma pauperis, Doc. No. 10. I construed the
latter as a motion for reconsideration of my ruling denying
Walker's application for leave to proceed in forma
reviewing both motions for reconsideration, I considered
Walker's explanation regarding the amount of money he
allegedly received from the settlement of a prior case and
his apology for the misunderstanding regarding the deposits
of money to his inmate account from family members.
See Ruling & Order, Doc. No. 12, at 2-3. I
noted, however, that Walker had still not explained why he
neglected to mention the gifts from his family in his
application to proceed in forma pauperis. See
Id. Because Walker had not identified any information
that I had overlooked in denying his application to proceed
in forma pauperis, I denied the motions for
reconsideration, denied the new application to proceed in
forma pauperis and dismissed the case without prejudice.
has now filed a motion to reopen, Doc. No. 14, a new
application to proceed in forma pauperis, Doc. No.
15, a motion to compel, Doc. No. 17, and a motion for
default, Doc. No. 18. For the reasons set forth below, I deny
well settled that the decision to proceed in forma
pauperis in civil cases is committed to the sound
discretion of the district court. See Rowland v. Cal.
Men's Colony, Unit II Men's Advisory
Council, 506 U.S. 194, 217-18 (1993); Fridman v.
City of New York, 195 F.Supp.2d 534, 536 (S.D.N.Y.
2002). A litigant need not be “absolutely
destitute” in order to qualify for in forma
pauperis status. Adkins v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours
& Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948). The court should
consider whether the burden of paying the fees for filing and
service would hamper the litigant's ability to obtain the
“necessities of life” or force him to abandon the
action. See id.; Potnick v. E. State Hosp.,
701 F.2d 243, 244 (2d Cir. 1983) (per curiam).
motion to reopen, Walker explains that he only received
$300.00 of the $2, 800.00 settlement amount. See
Mot. Reopen, Doc. No. 14, at 2. He asserts that he did not
consider the rest of the settlement amount as having been
received by him because he signed the amount over to his
brother via his attorney, Thomas Labelle. See Id.
Walker claims that he has made numerous attempts to contact
Attorney Labelle in order to provide verification that he in
fact signed over $2, 500.00 of the settlement to his brother,
but has been unable to reach him. See Id. Walker
does not indicate that he attempted to contact his brother to
obtain verification that a portion of the settlement proceeds
were in fact disbursed to his brother. Thus, Walker has not
provided any evidence of the transaction involving the
disposition of the settlement proceeds.
also acknowledges that he had received monetary gifts from
his sister and mother during the twelve month period prior to
filing this action. See Id. at 1. He claims that he
did not think it was relevant to answer the questions on the
application to proceed in forma pauperis truthfully
and acknowledge his receipt of these gifts or the amount that
he received from the settlement. See Id. He states
that the amounts were listed in his inmate account ledger
sheet. He claims that he now sees the relevance of
acknowledging the gift and settlement amounts and apologizes
for his “miscomprehension of it.” Id. at
Vann v. Commissioner of New York City Department of
Correction, 496 F. App'x 113 (2d Cir. 2012) (summary
order), the Second Circuit considered a district court's
dismissal of an action with prejudice for plaintiff's
false statements in his application to proceed in forma
pauperis. In his application, Vann had stated that he
had only received $30.00 in the twelve months prior to filing
the action. See Id. at 115. In fact, Vann had
received a total of $2, 059.10 in deposits to his inmate
account during the twelve-month period. See Id. at
116. The district court found that Vann's allegation of
poverty was untrue because he had “intentionally
omitted” the deposits from the application to proceed
in forma pauperis. See id.
Second Circuit observed that Van was “an experienced
litigator with extensive knowledge and familiarity with the
in forma pauperis system.” See Id. at
116. Furthermore, the declaration filed in support of
Vann's in forma pauperis application Vann
clearly stated that “if [Vann] gave a ‘false
answer to any questions in [the] declaration, ' [then]
‘the [c]ourt shall dismiss th[e] case.'”
See Id. at 115. Finally, when provided with an
opportunity to explain his inaccurate statements, “Vann
failed to provide a credible justification for the
omission.” See Id. at 116. The Second Circuit
held that “the record clearly support[ed] the
[d]istrict [c]ourt's finding” that Vann's
allegation of poverty was untrue. Id. at 115.
“Given the falsity of Vann's application and his
declarations, Vann's bad faith . . . evidenced by his
litigation experience and extensive familiarity of the in
forma pauperis process, and Vann's failure to
credibly explain or correct his declarations when given an
opportunity to do so, ” the Second Circuit affirmed the
dismissal of Vann's complaint with prejudice.
Id. at 116.
like Vann, is “an experienced litigator . . .
familiar with the in forma pauperis system.”
See Id. Over the past eleven years, along with the
present case, Walker has sought leave to proceed in forma
pauperis in seven other cases filed in this court.
See Walker v. Connecticut, No. 3:06-cv-00165 (SRU)
(D. Conn.); Walker v. Prior, No. 3:06-cv-00860 (JCH)
(D. Conn.); Walker v. Quiros, No. 3:11-cv-00082
(MPS) (D. Conn.); Walker v. Sharp, 3:13-cv-00040
(MPS) (D. Conn.); Walker v. Dzurenda, No.
3:15-cv-01212 (MPS) (D. Conn.); Walker v. Graham,
No. 3:15-cv-01330 (MPS) (D. Conn.); Walker v.
Semple, 3:16-cv-01002 (DJS) (D. Conn.).
light of that experience, I do not find credible Walker's
explanation for failing to acknowledge and list the
settlement award or the gifts he regularly received from his
family. Walker states that the deposits to his account during
the twelve months prior to filing this action did not put him
in a position to pay the filing fee, and that he assumed the
deposits could be verified in his six-month account
statement. In fact, during the eight months prior to filing
this action, $1, 087.55 was deposited to the Walker's
inmate account. See Application to Proceed In
Forma Pauperis, Doc. No. 2-1; Application to Proceed
In Forma Pauperis, Doc. No. 2-1, Walker v.
Semple, No. 16-cv-01002 (DJS) (D. Conn. June 23, 2016).
Whether or not Walker had spent that money for commissary
purchases or gifted some of it to a relative, he still was
required to accurately and truthfully answer the questions on
the application to proceed in forma pauperis.
Walker does not adequately address the disposition of
settlement proceeds out of which he clearly could have paid
the $400.00 filing fee to commence this action. Even if
Walker had provided evidence that he signed a portion of the
settlement proceeds over to his brother, he has not shown
that he could not have accessed the funds through his brother
in order to pay the filing fee.
I credit Walker's statement that he did not think the
answers to the questions on the in forma pauperis
application were relevant. Previously, in an application to
proceed in forma pauperis filed in 2013, Walker
recognized that it was relevant to list a settlement amount
that he had received in connection with a car accident.
See Renewed Mot. to Proceed In ...