United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER: (1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN DISTRICT COURT WITHOUT PREPAYMENT
OF FEES OR COSTS (ECF NO. 2); AND (2) SUMMARILY DISMISSING
THE COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E)(2) (ECF
D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff Thomas Dennis Burns's
Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying
Fees or Costs. (ECF No. 2.) For the reasons below, the Court
will grant Plaintiff's Application to Proceed without
Prepaying Fees or Costs, but will dismiss the Complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) because it fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), a court may allow
commencement of a civil action without the prepayment of fees
or costs if the applicant submits an affidavit demonstrating
that he or she is “unable to pay such fees or give
security therefor.” In the instant action, Plaintiff
has supplied an affidavit regarding his financial obligations
and income. (ECF No. 2.) Based on this information, the Court
will grant Plaintiff's Application to Proceed without
Prepayment of Fees or Costs.
same time, the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed
without prepayment of fees when it “fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). To avoid dismissal for this reason, the
complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
“[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions . . . .
Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level . . . .” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). The Court is
aware that a pro se litigant's complaint must be
liberally construed and held to “less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972);
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per
curiam). Still, the plaintiff must provide more than just
“bare assertions of legal conclusions.”
Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 577 (6th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc.,
859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988)).
district courts only have jurisdiction to decide certain
kinds of cases. Their jurisdiction is limited to cases
defined in Article III, § 2, cl. 1 of the Constitution,
or that have been entrusted to the federal courts through a
jurisdictional grant of Congress. See Ins. Corp. of
Ireland, Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456
U.S. 694, 701-02 (1982). Federal courts have jurisdiction
over “federal-question cases-civil actions that arise
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs.,
Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005) (citing 28 U.S.C. §
1331). “In order to provide a neutral forum for what
have come to be known as diversity cases, Congress also has
granted district courts original jurisdiction in civil
actions between citizens of different States, between U.S.
citizens and foreign citizens, or by foreign states against
U.S. citizens.” Exxon Mobil Corp., 545 U.S. at
552 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332). “[O]nce a court has
original jurisdiction over some claims in the action, it may
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over additional claims
that are part of the same case or controversy.”
Exxon Mobil Corp., 545 U.S. at 552. A plaintiff who
invokes federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
demonstrating that a basis for it exists. See Tobin v.
Astra Pharm. Prod., Inc., 993 F.2d 528, 543 (6th Cir.
case, the Plaintiff has not established that this Court has
jurisdiction over his claims. Diversity jurisdiction does not
exist in this case, as Plaintiff indicates in his Complaint
that both he and Defendant Chatman are citizens of Michigan.
(ECF No. 1, Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff has also not sued the
United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1346. This Court
therefore only has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims
if they are somehow part of, or at least supplemental to, a
claim “arising under” federal law. See
28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367.
civil cover sheet accompanying his Complaint, Plaintiff does
not identify a federal statute under which he is filing his
claims, instead stating an allegation that Defendant
“used a false instrument to interfere with [his] right
to property.” (Compl. at 9.) In the Complaint,
Plaintiff elaborates that Defendant falsely accused him of
crimes, used false allegations to obtain his property, and
caused him emotional distress through slander and defamation.
(See Id. at 5.)
has not, however, identified a basis in federal law for the
Court to exercise jurisdiction over these claims. Among the
boxes he has checked on his civil cover sheet are those
corresponding to “False Claims Act” and
“Administrative Procedure Act/Review or Appeal of
Agency Decision.” (Id. at 9.) Neither of these
offers a clear foundation for federal jurisdiction here:
Plaintiff has not identified a decision by an administrative
agency that he asks this Court to review, nor has he made
sufficient factual allegations to state a claim under the
federal False Claims Act, which generally imposes liability
on persons who commit fraud against the government.
See 31 U.S.C.A. § 3729. The other boxes checked
by Plaintiff do not suggest that there are grounds for
federal jurisdiction over his claims, nor do his factual
allegations-in connection with or independently of the
information on the civil cover sheet-permit the Court to
conclude that it may exercise jurisdiction in this case.
these reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Application
to Proceed without Prepayment of Fees or Costs (ECF No. 2)
and DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff's Complaint
pursuant to 28 ...