Fereebee v. Attorney Jeanett P. Henry, LLC
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Paul W. Grimm on 6/28/2017. (c/m 6/29/2017 tds, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
RENEE (COG) FEREBEE,
CIVIL ACTION NO. PWG-17-1397
ATTORNEY JEANETT P. HENRY, LLC,
On May 19, 2017, Renee Ferebee, a self-represented litigant residing in Temple Hills,
Maryland, filed this action invoking this Court’s federal question jurisdiction. Compl. 1–2, ECF
No. 1. Ms. Ferebee states that attorney Jeanett P. Henry, LLC “mishandled” the claims she
brought in Ferebee v. Sally Beauty Supply Store, No. PX-16-2991 (D. Md.) and “wrongfully
judged” her to be “crazy and on drugs.” Compl. 1. She accuses Defendant of breaching a
contract and alleges that Defendant “lied to the defendant’s attorney” about the facts of her case
against Sally Beauty Supply Store.1 Id. at 1–2. She attaches Defendant’s retainer agreement and
correspondence with defense counsel in Ferebee v. Sally Beauty Supply Store. Compl. 5–12.
Ms. Ferebee seeks $500 million “in tort, defamation of character, false representation, breach of
contract, sabortagement [sic], civil rights being violated, [and] punitive damages all of unfair
services (discrimination).” Id. at 2.
Ms. Ferebee has filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. ECF No. 2.
Ms. Ferebee claims that Defendant’s lies caused Ms. Ferebee “to take over her case.” Compl.
2. A review of the docket in PX-16-2991 reveals that Jeanett P. Henry terminated her
representation of Ms. Ferebee before Ms. Ferebee filed that self-represented federal case. ECF
Nos. 1 & 4 in Ferebee v. Sally Beauty Supply Store.
Notwithstanding the fact that she holds herself out as an attorney and claims that she will be paid
billions of dollars in the future, Ms. Ferebee shall be granted leave to proceed without
prepayment of the filing fee. Her Complaint, however, shall be summarily dismissed.
It is well established that a Court has broad inherent power to dismiss an action, or part of
an action, which is frivolous, vexatious, or brought in bad faith, and may exercise its discretion
to dismiss a case at any time, notwithstanding the payment of any filing fee or any portion
thereof, if it determines that a plaintiff lacks standing, that subject matter jurisdiction does not
exists, or that a case fails to state a claim. See Mallard v. United States Dist. Ct. for S.D. of
Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08 (1989) (courts have authority to dismiss a frivolous or malicious
lawsuit even in absence of a specific statutory provision); Ross v. Baron, 493 F. App’x 405, 406
(4th Cir. 2012) (unpublished) (noting that “frivolous complaints are subject to dismissal pursuant
to the inherent authority of the court, even when the filing fee has been paid”); Fitzgerald v. First
East Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 364 (2d Cir. 2000) (holding that district courts
may dismiss frivolous complaints sua sponte, even when plaintiff has paid the filing fee, noting
that “district courts are in particular likely to be exposed to frivolous actions, and thus have an
even greater need for inherent authority to dismiss such actions quickly in order to preserve
scarce judicial resources”).
Moreover, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), courts are
required to screen a plaintiff’s complaint when, as here, in forma pauperis status has been
granted. Therefore, pursuant to this statute, numerous courts have performed a preliminary
screening of non-prisoner complaints. See Michau v. Charleston Cnty., S.C., 434 F.3d 725, 72728 (4th Cir. 2006) (applying 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen preliminarily a non-prisoner
complaint); Troville v. Venz, 303 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 2002) (applying § 1915(e) to non2
prisoner actions); Evans v. Albaugh, No. 13-CV-11, 2013 WL 5375781, at *1-2 (N.D. W. Va.
Sept. 25, 2013) (28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) authorizes dismissal of complaints filed in forma pauperis).
A court may consider subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte as part of its initial review of
the Complaint. See Brickwood Contractors, Inc. v. Datanet Eng’g, Inc., 369 F.3d 385, 390 (4th
Cir. 2004) (“[Q]uestions of subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised at any point during the
proceedings and may (or, more precisely, must) be raised sua sponte by the court.”); Lovern v.
Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999) (“Determining the question of subject matter
jurisdiction at the outset of the litigation is often the most efficient procedure.”). “If the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
Upon generous construction of the Complaint, I find that Ms. Ferebee has failed to set out
a claim entitling her to relief in this Court. She cannot make out a civil rights case simply by
setting out legal conclusions or alleging that the case is based on her “civil rights being violated.”
As filed, her Complaint has not alleged any particularized deprivations so as to state a
jurisdictional basis for a federal question claim under this Court’s federal question jurisdiction,
28 U.S.C. § 1331.
At best, Ms. Ferebee’s cause of action alleges nothing more than tortious conduct or
breach of contract on the part of Defendant. This Court is, however, a court of limited original
jurisdiction and does not sit to review every claim related to alleged breach of contract or tortious
conduct involving non-federal parties. Instead, it only has authority to review such state-law
claims filed pursuant to a federal district court’s diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332, diversity jurisdiction exists when the parties are of diverse citizenship and the
amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. It is a firmly established general rule of the federal
courts that a plaintiff’s diversity claim is the measure of the amount in controversy and
determines the question of jurisdiction. See McDonald v. Patton, 240 F.2d 424, 425-26 (4th Cir.
Here, the parties, both Maryland residents, see ECF No. 1-1, are not diverse.
Consequently, the Complaint shall be summarily dismissed by separate Order.2
Date: June 28, 2017
Paul W. Grimm
United States District Judge
The Complaint shall be dismissed without prejudice. Ms. Ferebee may file her contract and/or
tort claims in state court should she choose to do so.
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