United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING CASE
L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Benjamin Anthony Johnson, a federal inmate incarcerated at
the Federal Correctional Institution in Yankton, South
Dakota, has filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The Court granted Plaintiff's application to
proceed in forma pauperis, and he is proceeding without
prepayment of the filing fee in this action under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1). After careful consideration of the
complaint, the court summarily dismisses the case.
complaint alleges that Plaintiff was convicted in the Eastern
District of Michigan in 2008 of conspiracy and narcotics
offenses for which he is serving a term of 150 months.
Plaintiff claims that a documentary film titled “BMF:
The Rise and Fall of a Hip Hop Drug Empire” contained
information falsely suggesting that Plaintiff cooperated with
Federal authorities to assist in what he calls the
“Black Mafia Family's Federal Investigation.”
ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff claims that the information in the
film has led to threats on his life and the lives of his
complaint lists a total of twenty-two defendants in the
caption. Nine of the named defendants seem to be entities
Plaintiff claims were involved in the production or
distribution of the documentary film: One Village
Entertainment, Image Entertainment, Inc., RLJ Entertainment,
Inc., Joe Rock Productions, Errante Film Productions, LLC,
Flow State Films, Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube. The remaining
thirteen defendants listed in the caption appear to be
individuals: Jamie Chester, Tammy Lowins, Edward Daigneau,
John Errante, Derek Parker, Andrew Rath, JDE Rock, Dave
Sikorski, Don Sikorski A.K.A Donald, Irene Sikorski, Douglas
Stewart, and Ryan Walker. These defendants are not identified
in the body of the complaint, but the complaint implies that
all the defendants “worked hand-in-hand in the
creation” of the documentary film. ECF No. 1 at 4. The
complaint seeks $5, 000, 000 from each of the twenty-two
defendants for the use of his name in the film without his
consent, and an additional $850, 000, 000 in “special
damages.” Id., at 5.
complaints filed by a pro se prisoner are subject to the
screening requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Brown v. Bargery, 207 F.3d 863, 866 (6th Cir. 2000).
Section 1915(e)(2) requires district courts to screen and to
dismiss complaints that are frivolous, fail to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted, or that seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); McGore v. Wigglesworth,
114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997). A complaint is frivolous
and subject to sua sponte dismissal under § 1915(e) if
it lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact. Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A plaintiff fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, when,
construing the complaint in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff and accepting all the factual allegations as true,
the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in
support if his claims that would entitle him to relief.
Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197
(6th Cir. 1996); Cline v. Rogers, 87 F.3d 176, 179
(6th Cir. 1996); Wright v. MetroHealth Med. Ctr., 58
F.3d 1130, 1138 (6th Cir. 1995).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege the violation of a right secured by the federal
Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988);
Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549
(6th Cir. 2009); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102
F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). In order for a private
party's conduct to be under color of state law, it must
be “fairly attributable to the State.” Lugar
v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982);
Street, 102 F.3d at 814. There must be “a
sufficiently close nexus between the State and the challenged
action of [the defendant] so that the action of the latter
may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.”
Skelton v. Pri-Cor, Inc., 963 F.2d 100, 102 (6th
Cir. 1991) (citing Jackson v. Metro. Edison Co., 419
U.S. 345, 351 (1974)). The complaint is devoid of allegations
that any of the named defendants were acting under color of
state law when they allegedly produced and distributed the
documentary film in question. As such, Plaintiff has failed
to state a claim under § 1983.
appears that the reference to § 1983 may have been
inadvertent. It is cited in the heading to his complaint, but
not discussed anywhere else. The remainder of his complaint
asserts claims for defamation and injurious falsehood. There
is no independent basis for this Court to exercise subject
matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law defamation
and injurious falsehood claims, however. Although the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000, it is not apparent from the
face of the complaint that the parties are completely
diverse. See 28 U.S.C. 1332. Rule 8 requires the
complaint to provide “a short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court's jurisdiction . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). Here, Plaintiff has provided no
statement of jurisdiction indicating his own state of
citizenship or the state(s) of citizenship of any of the
Defendants, and his complaint will therefore be dismissed.
Carlock v. Williams, 182 F.3d 916 (6th Cir. 1999)
(affirming dismissal where there was “no basis for
federal jurisdiction on the face of [Plaintiff's]
Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would
be in good faith within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d
601, 611 (6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court
dismisses the action, the Court discerns no good-faith basis
for an appeal.
it is ORDERED that the complaint, ECF No. 1,
is DISMISSED without prejudice.
FURTHER ORDERED that an appeal from this
judgment would be frivolous and could ...