FAN v. ZHOU
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT, GRANTING IN FORMA PAUPERIS STATUS, AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS - Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, [dkt. 2 ], is granted. Concluding that this Court has no jurisdiction over this ca se, dismissal is required. Capitol Leasing Co., 999 F.2d at 191. The case is dismissed. Because plaintiff is pro se, the Court will allow her through May 30, 2017, to show cause why this action should not be dismissed or to amend her complaint in a manner that demonstrates federal subject matter jurisdiction. Should plaintiff fail to show cause or file an amended complaint by this deadline, this action will be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction without further notice. (See Entry.) Copy to Plaintiff via U.S. Mail. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 5/09/2017. (JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
Entry Dismissing Complaint, Granting In Forma Pauperis Status,
and Directing Further Proceedings
Plaintiff, a citizen of China, is a resident of Indianapolis while she attends law school at
Indiana University. She is in a contract dispute with defendant concerning a $100 disagreement in
the amount of rent she agreed to pay to live in defendant’s apartment. Plaintiff filed this action,
pro se, claiming jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question jurisdiction), seeking a
return of her security deposit, rental fees, and a sum for breach of contract, totaling $1,000. She
also seeks injunctive relief and an apology. Plaintiff also asks to proceed in forma pauperis.
I. In Forma Pauperis
Plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, [dkt. 2], is granted.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. If there is an actual case or controversy,
U.S. Const. Art. III, it must concern a federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or meet diversity of
citizenship and amount in controversy requirements. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Unless an action has both
(a) a case or controversy and (b) either (1) a federal question or (2) diversity of citizenship with a
certain minimum amount in controversy, this Court has no jurisdiction and must dismiss the action.
“[F]ederal courts are ‘obliged to inquire sua sponte whenever a doubt arises as to the existence of
federal jurisdiction.’” Barichello v. McDonald, 98 F.3d 948, 955 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Mt. Healthy City Board of Ed. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 278 (1977)). “[A] court must dismiss the
case without ever reaching the merits if it concludes that it has no jurisdiction.” Capitol Leasing
Co. v. F.D.I.C., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff’s pro se complaint asserts federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331. However, landlord-tenant contract disputes are not federal questions. Plaintiff does
not invoke a substantive federal statute or legal concept, nor can the Court discern one, even
construing the pro se complaint liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (per curiam)
(“allegations of the pro se complaint [are held] to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers”); Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton, Ind., 839 F.2d 375, 378 (7th Cir. 1988)
(“pro se complaints are to be liberally construed”). There is no federal question presented in the
complaint and, therefore, no jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Likewise, there is no diversity jurisdiction. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the amount in
controversy must exceed $75,000. Clearly this action does not meet the amount in controversy
requirement, and the Court does not have jurisdiction under section 1332.
Concluding that this Court has no jurisdiction over this case, dismissal is required. Capitol
Leasing Co., 999 F.2d at 191. The case is dismissed. Because plaintiff is pro se, the Court will
allow her through May 30, 2017, to show cause why this action should not be dismissed or to
amend her complaint in a manner that demonstrates federal subject matter jurisdiction.
Should plaintiff fail to show cause or file an amended complaint by this deadline, this action
will be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction without further notice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
742D Blake St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
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