Escobedo v. Apple American Group

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-04-2015
  • Case #: 12-16244
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior District Judge Ponsor for the Court; Circuit Judges Wardlaw and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

It is an abuse of discretion when a court denies an in forma pauperis application based on the financial resources of the litigant’s spouse without a reasonable inquiry into the availability and sufficiency of the spouse’s funds.

Maria Escobedo worked at an Applebee’s restaurant owned by Apple Nevada. Escobedo filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against her employer for sexual harassment, gender and national origin discrimination, and retaliation. The EEOC sent Escobedo a Notice of Right to Sue in December 2010, however, Escobedo did not receive it. Another Notice of Right to Sue was sent by the EEOC in March 2011, and Escobedo filed suit in June 2011, along with an in forma pauperis (“IFP”) application stating that Escobedo was not able to pay the filing fee. The magistrate judge denied Escobedo’s IFP application due to her husband’s income, and set a deadline for which the fee should be paid. Escobedo paid the fee by the magistrate judge’s deadline, and Apple Nevada moved to dismiss her complaint. The district court granted Apple Nevada’s motion based on its determination that Escobedo’s complaint was untimely filed. Escobedo appealed. The Ninth Circuit determined that Escobedo had timely filed her complaint when it was delivered to the clerk, and that when her IFP application was denied, she was properly given a reasonable time to pay the filing fee. The panel determined that Escobedo’s complaint should not have been dismissed since she had paid the fee by the magistrate judge’s deadline. The panel further found that the magistrate judge abused its discretion by including Escobedo’s husband’s income in the calculation for paying the filing fee without a more adequate inquiry. REVERSED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search