Darrow et al v. Swift et al
Judge F. Dennis Saylor, IV: ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order(Docket No. 1) is DENIED; and this action is DISMISSED in its entirety.(PSSA, 1)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
TRAVIS DARROW and CHRIS
TAYLOR SWIFT and APPLE, INC.,
Civil Action No.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
On June 30, 2015, plaintiffs Travis Darrow and Chris Donnelly, both prisoners at the
State Correctional Institute, Benner Township, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, filed a two-page
handwritten document entitled “Preliminary Injunction, Temporary Restraining Order TRO 28
U.S.C. § 1331.” (Docket No. 1). The document names as defendants singer Taylor Swift and
As to Taylor Swift, Travis and Donnelly allege that in 1989, they were at the Boston
Garden when they came up with the idea for her album “1989.”1 They contend that she stole
their idea.2 Travis and Donnelly further allege that Taylor Swift pick-pocketed them to obtain
their Apple iPhones and stole their credit cards in order to buy tickets from Tickettron (an
According to Taylor Swift's website, "1989" was released on October 27, 2014. See
According to public source information, Taylor Swift was born in 1989.
internet website that sells tickets to events) so that her concert would sell out. They allege that
by doing this, she was “cooking the books.” Id. at 2. They further claim that Taylor Swift is lipsynching. Id.
With respect to Apple, Inc., Travis and Donnelly claim that they invented the Apple
iPhone in 1989. They further allege:
Apple, Inc. pelted our heads with Apples–Taylor Swift as Eve. Defendants are
rotten to the core. We are scared Taylor Swift has Pennsylvania ties [and] we are
frightened of her. She might cut out our voice boxes for whistleblowing. In 1989
we were riding bikes next to Swift tracking Taylor Swift [she] put a stick in our
bicycle spokes [.] [W]e Flipped and Swift Flipped us off. Apple, Inc. gave Jobs
[illegible word]. Apple witches watches us. We [were] worried sick. Panic
Id. at 1 [brackets added]
Plaintiffs seek a restraining order against Taylor Swift from singing lyrics that offend
them. They do not state what relief is sought against Apple, Inc. Plaintiffs did not pay the filing
fee nor did they seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
The Filing Fee
A party (or parties) bringing a civil action must either (1) pay the $350 filing fee and the
$50 administrative fee, see 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), or (2) seek leave to proceed without prepayment
of the filing fee, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (proceedings in forma pauperis).3 Where, as here, the
plaintiffs are prisoners, each motion for waiver of prepayment of the filing fee must be
accompanied by “a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent)
for the prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the
The $50 administrative fee became effective May 1, 2013; it does not apply to persons proceeding in forma
pauperis. See Judicial Conference Fee Schedule.
complaint . . . obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner is or
was confined.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2).4
As noted, plaintiffs have not paid the fee nor filed any requests for a waiver of the filing
fee. Generally, in such situations, the Court would permit the prisoner plaintiffs an opportunity
to pay the filing fee in full or else file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis
accompanied by a certified prison account statement. For the reasons set forth below, however,
this action is being dismissed sua sponte and thus no further opportunity to cure the defects will
Failure to File a Complaint
Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state that “[a] civil action is commenced
by filing a complaint with the court.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 3. Here, Travis and Donnelly have not
filed a “complaint”; rather, they have filed what this Court deems to be a motion for preliminary
injunction and temporary restraining order. The Court will not construe that pleading as their
complaint, because it does not remotely comport with the pleading requirements of Rules 8 and
10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.5 It is frivolous and implausible in the extreme.
This Court generally would permit plaintiffs an opportunity to file an amended
Unlike other civil litigants, prisoner plaintiffs are not entitled to a complete waiver of the filing fee,
notwithstanding the grant of in forma pauperis status. Rather, filing-fee payments are assessed and collected until
the filing fee is paid in full. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)-(2). Even if the action is dismissed upon a preliminary
screening, see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A, the plaintiff remains obligated to pay the filing fee, see McGore v.
Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607 (6th Cir. 1997) (§ 1915(b)(1) compels the payment of the fee at the moment the
complaint is filed).
Rule 10 requires, in part, that “[a] party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each
limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(b). Rule 8(a) requires a
plaintiff to include in the complaint, inter alia, “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This statement must “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.’” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) . Further, it
should at least “set forth minimal facts as to who did what to whom, when, where, and why.” Educadores
Puertorriqueños en Acción v. Hernandez, 367 F.3d 61, 68 (1st Cir. 2004).
complaint. However, because the allegations presented by Darrow and Donnelly are obviously
frivolous, no such opportunity will be provided here. See Street v. Fair, 918 F.2d 269 (1st Cir.
1990) (sua sponte dismissals do not require notice to plaintiff with opportunity to respond, if the
claim is based on an “indisputably meritless legal theory” such as when founded on fanciful
In light of this, the action will be dismissed in its entirety, and plaintiffs’ request for
injunctive relief in any form will be denied. Should plaintiffs wish to file a new complaint (in a
new case), they must pay the filing fee or submit applications to waive the filing fee
accompanied by their certified prison account statements for the six-month period preceding the
filing of any complaint. No filing fee will be assessed against the plaintiffs at this time;
however, plaintiffs are advised that a filing fee will be assessed against them pursuant to the
Prison Litigation Reform Act if a complaint is filed and the filing fee is not paid in full.
For the foregoing reasons,
Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order
(Docket No. 1) is DENIED; and
This action is DISMISSED in its entirety.
This Court recognizes that there is no screening authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) because the
plaintiffs are not proceeding in forma pauperis, nor is their screening authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
because the plaintiffs are not suing governmental entities or employees. Nevertheless, the Court has inherent
authority to manage its cases, and to dismiss a case if it patently meritless. See Gonzalez-Gonzalez v. United States,
257 F.3d 31, 36 (1st Cir. 2001) (“We will uphold a sua sponte order of dismissal only if the allegations contained in
the complaint, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, are patently meritless and beyond all hope of
/s/ F. Dennis Saylor
F. Dennis Saylor IV
United States District Judge
Dated: July 22, 2015
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