United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER (1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION TO
PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FEES OR COSTS (ECF #2) AND (2)
DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT (ECF #1) WITHOUT
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 08, 2016, Plaintiff Katherine Steen
(“Steen”) filed this action against Defendants
Katherine Pullen, Kelsey McHaffie, and Jane Kogan (the
“Defendants”). Steen appears to allege that
Defendants are “filing Federal Cases at 36th
District Court.” (See Compl., ECF #1 at 1, Pg.
ID 1.) In her civil cover sheet, she more specifically
alleges that Defendants are “filing Case 15-14330 in
State Court.” ( Id. at 11, Pg. ID 11.) She
seeks damages for “emotional distress, ”
“violation of civil and human rights, ” and
“breach of contract.” (Id.) In support
of her claims, Steen attaches: (1) a partial transcript of
state court proceedings. The transcript appears to be about a
dispute regarding Steen's safe deposit box at Fifth Third
Bank; (2) a letter dated March 31, 2016 that she received
from Fifth Third Bank regarding resolution of the safe
deposit dispute; and (3) a June 30, 2016 notice of a hearing
in the 36th District Court for the City of
Detroit. ( Id. at 4-9, Pg. ID 4-9.) Steen has also
filed an application to proceed in this action without the
prepayment of fees or costs (the “Application”).
(See ECF #2.) For the reasons stated below, the
Court GRANTS the Application and DISMISSES the Complaint
to proceed without the prepayment of fees or costs are
governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). That statute
provides that a federal court “may authorize the
commencement ... of any suit, action, or proceeding ... by a
person who submits an affidavit that includes a statement of
all assets ... that the person is unable to pay such
Application, Steen states that she has no savings, no real
estate or other assets of significant value, and her sole
sources of income are from worker's disability and $133
in food stamps. (See Application at 1-2, Pg. ID
29-30.) The Court has reviewed the Application and is
satisfied that the prepayment of the filing fee would cause
an undue financial hardship on Steen. The Court therefore
grants the Application and permits Steen to file her
Complaint without prepaying the filing fee.
plaintiff is allowed to proceed without the prepayment of
fees or costs, the Court is required to screen the complaint
and dismiss it if it (i) asserts frivolous or malicious
claims, (ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, and/or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). While the Court must liberally
construe documents filed by a pro se plaintiff,
see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), a
complaint filed by such a plaintiff must still plead
sufficient specific factual allegations, and not just legal
conclusions, in support of each claim. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-679 (2009); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-471 (6th Cir. 2010)
(holding that the dismissal standard of Iqbal
applies to a Court's review of a complaint under §
1915(e)(2) for failure to state a claim).
federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. This Court
has jurisdiction over (1) “all civil actions arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States” (28 U.S.C. § 1331 - “federal
question jurisdiction”) and (2) “all civil
actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000...and is between citizens of different
states” (28 U.S.C. § 1332 - “diversity
jurisdiction”). The Court is obligated to consider
sua sponte in every action whether it has subject
matter jurisdiction and to dismiss the action if it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction. See, e.g., In re
Lewis, 398 F.3d 735, 739 (6th Cir. 2005); See
also Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 12(h)(3).
face of her Complaint, Steen has failed to establish that
this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over her claims.
Indeed, Steen has failed to plead either that (1) she and the
defendants are citizens of different states and that the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 or (2) her claims
arise under federal law such that federal question
jurisdiction exists. Although she broadly alleges a
“violation of civil and human rights” in her
civil cover sheet, she does not cite any federal law or right
that was violated. Simply put, “[n]othing in
[Steen's] Complaint suggests a basis for a federal claim
over which this Court may properly exercise subject matter
jurisdiction.” Smith v. United Way of Genesee
County, 16-cv-11320, 2016 WL 1615710, at *3 (E.D.
Mich. Apr. 22, 2016) (dismissing pro se complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) for failing to plead
the existence of subject matter jurisdiction).
while the Court is mindful that a pro se litigant's
complaint is held to “less than stringent standards,
” Steen's complaint must contain facts sufficient
to support a claim that would entitle her to relief. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b). Dismissal is appropriate
where “the claim is based on an indisputably meritless
legal theory[.]” Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d
596, 600 (6th Cir. 1998). Even if the Court has
jurisdiction over this case, it would dismiss the case on the
grounds that Steen's claims are based on a meritless
legal theory. Steen's complaint fails to explain how
Defendants could possibly have filed a previously dismissed
Federal Case 15-14330 in state court. Case 15-14330 was a
federal case filed by Steen that involved a
completely unrelated defendant and was dismissed due to
Steen's failure to state a claim. See Steen v.
Hergiz, 15-14330, ECF #5. Steen's complaint also
fails to connect in any discernable manner the alleged filing
of Case 15-14330 in state court to her claims of emotional
distress, violation of civil and human rights, and breach of
contract. Therefore, the Court concludes that Steen's
claims are based on “an indisputably meritless legal
theory.” Wilson, 148 F.3d at 600.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Complaint (ECF
#1) is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and Fed. Rule Civ. Proc.
12(h)(3). The Court certifies that any appeal from
this decision cannot be taken in good faith. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3).
IS SO ORDERED.