United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS -
J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Paul Jackson has filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. He seeks leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. Because Plaintiff Jackson has filed at least
three lawsuits which were dismissed for failure to state a
claim, he is barred from proceeding in forma
pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The civil
action filing fee is $400.00, when leave to proceed in
forma pauperis is denied. The Court will order Plaintiff
Jackson to pay the $400.00 filing fee within twenty-eight
(28) days of this opinion and accompanying order. If
Plaintiff fails to do so, the Court will order that his
action be dismissed without prejudice. Even if the case
is dismissed, Plaintiff will be responsible for payment of
the $400.00 filing fee in accordance with In re
Alea, 286 F.3d 378, 380-81 (6th Cir. 2002).
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110
Stat. 1321 (1996), which was enacted on April 26, 1996,
amended the procedural rules governing a prisoner's
request for the privilege of proceeding in forma
pauperis. As the Sixth Circuit has stated, the PLRA was
“aimed at the skyrocketing numbers of claims filed by
prisoners-many of which are meritless-and the corresponding
burden those filings have placed on the federal
courts.” Hampton v. Hobbs, 106 F.3d 1281, 1286
(6th Cir. 1997). For that reason, Congress put into place
economic incentives to prompt a prisoner to “stop and
think” before filing a complaint. Id. For
example, a prisoner is liable for the civil action filing
fee, and if the prisoner qualifies to proceed in forma
pauperis, the prisoner may pay the fee through partial
payments as outlined in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). The
constitutionality of the fee requirements of the PLRA has
been upheld by the Sixth Circuit. Id. at 1288.
addition, another provision reinforces the “stop and
think” aspect of the PLRA by preventing a prisoner from
proceeding in forma pauperis when the prisoner
repeatedly files meritless lawsuits. Known as the
“three-strikes” rule, the provision states:
In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a
judgment in a civil action or proceeding under [the section
governing proceedings in forma pauperis] if the
prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while
incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action
or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed
on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the
prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The statutory restriction
“[i]n no event, ” found in § 1915(g), is
express and unequivocal. The statute does allow an exception
for a prisoner who is “under imminent danger of serious
physical injury.” The Sixth Circuit has upheld the
constitutionality of the “three-strikes” rule
against arguments that it violates equal protection, the
right of access to the courts, and due process, and that it
constitutes a bill of attainder and is ex post facto
legislation. Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d 596, 604-06
(6th Cir.1998); accord Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d
1176, 1178-82 (9th Cir. 1999); Rivera v. Allin, 144
F.3d 719, 723-26 (11th Cir. 1998); Carson v.
Johnson, 112 F.3d 818, 821-22 (5th Cir. 1997).
has been an active litigant in the federal courts in
Michigan. The Court has dismissed at least three of
Plaintiff's lawsuits for failure to state a claim.
See Jackson v. Hall et al., No. 1:03-cv-332
(W.D. Mich. May 22, 2003); Jackson v. Martin , No.
1:03-cv-367 (W.D. Mich. June 30, 2003); and Jackson v.
Allegan County Jail , No. 1:07-cv-1086 (W.D. Mich. Feb.
25, 2008). In addition, Plaintiff Jackson has been denied
leave to proceed in forma pauperis in multiple prior
cases. See Jackson v. Ingham County Jail , No.
1:17-cv-237 (W.D. Mich. Mar. 23, 2017); Jackson v. 48th
Cir. Court , No. 1:07-cv-1164 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 21,
2008); Jackson v. Merrill , No. 1:07-1275 (W.D.
Mich. Apr. 14, 2008); Jackson v. Meijer, Inc. , No.
1:07-cv-1250 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 14, 2008); Jackson v.
Nancy , No. 1:07-cv-1122 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 14, 2008).
Plaintiff's action does not fall under the exception for
an inmate under “imminent danger of serious physical
injury.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). The Sixth Circuit
set forth the following general requirements for a claim of
In order to allege sufficiently imminent danger, we have held
that “the threat or prison condition must be real and
proximate and the danger of serious physical injury must
exist at the time the complaint is filed.” Rittner
v. Kinder, 290 F. App'x 796, 797 (6th Cir. 2008)
(internal quotation marks omitted). “Thus a
prisoner's assertion that he or she faced danger in the
past is insufficient to invoke the exception.”
Id. at 797-98; see also [Taylor v.
First Med. Mgmt., 508 F. App'x 488, 492 (6th Cir.
2012)] (“Allegations of past dangers are insufficient
to invoke the exception.”); Percival v. Gerth,
443 F. App'x 944, 946 (6th Cir. 2011) (“Assertions
of past danger will not satisfy the ‘imminent
danger' exception.”); cf. [Pointer v.
Wilkinson, 502 F.3d 369, 371 n.1 (6th Cir. 2007)]
(implying that past danger is insufficient for the
In addition to a temporal requirement, we have explained that
the allegations must be sufficient to allow a court to draw
reasonable inferences that the danger exists. To that end,
“district courts may deny a prisoner leave to proceed
pursuant to § 1915(g) when the prisoner's claims of
imminent danger are conclusory or ridiculous, or are clearly
baseless (i.e. are fantastic or delusional and rise to the
level of irrational or wholly incredible).”
Rittner, 290 F. App'x at 798 (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted); see also Taylor, 508
F. App'x at 492 (“Allegations that are conclusory,
ridiculous, or clearly baseless are also insufficient for
purposes of the imminent-danger exception.”).
Vandiver v. Prison Health Services, Inc., 727 F.3d
580, 585 (6th Cir. 2013). A prisoner's claim of imminent
danger is subject to the same notice pleading requirement as
that which applies to prisoner complaints. Id.
Consequently, a prisoner must allege facts in the complaint
from which the Court could reasonably conclude that the
prisoner was under an existing danger at the time he filed
his complaint, but the prisoner need not affirmatively prove
those allegations. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that his prison conditions are less than
optimal and that some conditions are unsanitary, his
complaint concerns matters that have been ongoing for some
time, not matters imminently likely to cause him serious
physical injury. He therefore falls short of demonstrating
entitlement to the imminent-danger exception to the
light of the foregoing, § 1915(g) prohibits Plaintiff
from proceeding in forma pauperis in this action.
Plaintiff has thirty days from the date of entry of this
order to pay the $400.00 civil action filing fee. When
Plaintiff pays his filing fee, the Court will screen his
complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(c). If Plaintiff fails to pay the filing fee
within the thirty-day ...