PURTLEBAUGH v. SMITH et al
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS - The plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis 2 is granted. The complaint fails to contain a legally viable claim over which this Court could exerci se subject matter jurisdiction and the complaint is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The plaintiff shall have through May 12, 2017, in which to show cause why judgment consistent with this Entry should not issue. (See Entry.) Copy to Plaintiff via U.S. Mail. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 4/14/2017. (JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
JAMES DAVID PURTLEBAUGH, SR.,
INDIANAPOLIS COUNSELING CENTER,
Case No. 1:17-cv-01003-TWP-MPB
Entry Dismissing Complaint for Lack of Jurisdiction and Directing Further Proceedings
The plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis  is granted. The assessment of even
a partial filing fee is not feasible at this time. Notwithstanding the foregoing ruling, the plaintiff
owes the filing fee. “All [28 U.S.C.] § 1915 has ever done is excuse pre-payment of the docket
fees; a litigant remains liable for them, and for other costs, although poverty may make collection
impossible.” Abdul-Wadood v. Nathan, 91 F.3d 1023, 1025 (7th Cir. 1996).
Plaintiff James David Purtlebaugh, Sr., filed this civil action alleging that Ron Smith and
the Indianapolis Counseling Center breached a contract. Specifically, Mr. Smith alleges that in
November of 2016, he was discharged from his “SOMM” group because he missed too many
classes. Mr. Purtlebaugh disagrees with this finding and alleges that his discharge was in breach
of a contract he signed with the Indianapolis Counseling Center.
Subject to esoteric exceptions not implicated by the circumstances of this case, “[a] federal
court may exercise jurisdiction where: 1) the requirements for diversity jurisdiction set forth in 28
U.S.C. § 1332 are met; or 2) the matter arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1331.” Barringer-Willis v. Healthsource North Carolina, 14 F.
Supp. 2d 780, 781 (E.D.N.C. 1998). “’A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case.’”
Home Builders Ass’n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998)
(quoting Nowak v. Ironworkers Local 6 Pension Fund, 81 F.3d 1182, 1187 (2d Cir. 1996)). The
Court of Appeals has repeatedly held that “the party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden
of demonstrating its existence.” See Hart v. FedEx Ground Pkg. Sys. Inc., 457 F.3d 675, 679 (7th
Here, there is no allegation of conduct which could support the existence of federal
question jurisdiction. See Williams v. Aztar Ind. Gaming Corp., 351 F.3d 294, 298 (7th Cir.
2003)(explaining federal courts may exercise federal-question jurisdiction when a plaintiff’s right
to relief is created by or depends on a federal statute or constitutional provision). Similarly, there
is no allegation of diversity of citizenship. See Denlinger v. Brennan, 87 F.3d 214, 217 (7th Cir.
1996) (holding that failure to include allegations of citizenship requires dismissal of complaint
based on diversity jurisdiction).
When it is determined that a court lacks jurisdiction, its only course of action is to announce
that fact and dismiss the case. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 94
(1998) (“’Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function
remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause.’”) (quoting Ex parte
McCardle, 7 Wall, 506, 514, 19 L.Ed. 264 (1868)). That is the case here. The complaint fails to
contain a legally viable claim over which this Court could exercise subject matter jurisdiction and
the complaint is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
The plaintiff shall have through May 12, 2017, in which to show cause why judgment
consistent with this Entry should not issue.
JAMES DAVID PURTLEBAUGH, SR.
NEW CASTLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
1000 Van Nuys Road
NEW CASTLE, IN 47362
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