Willis v. Motor City Casino
ORDER DISMISSING CASE and GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS Signed by District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff. (MVer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 11-14536
Hon. Lawrence P. Zatkoff
MOTOR CITY CASINO,
ORDER GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND
Plaintiff submitted his Complaint [dkt 1] and Application to Proceed in forma pauperis [dkt
2] on April 11, 2011. Plaintiff’s Application to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED; however,
the Court DISMISSES Plaintiff’s Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which this Court can
A. Plaintiff’s Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
Plaintiff has filed an application to proceed without prepayment of fees. Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a), “any court of the United States may authorize the commencement, prosecution or defense
of any suit, action or proceeding . . . without prepayment of fees or security therefor, by a person
who submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such prisoner possesses that the
person is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” The reference to assets of “such
prisoner” is likely a typographical error; thus, § 1915(a) applies to all natural persons. See Floyd
v. U.S. Postal Serv., 105 F.3d 274 (6th Cir. 1997). If a motion to proceed without prepayment of
fees is filed and accompanied by a facially-sufficient affidavit, the Court should allow the complaint
to be filed. See Gibson v. R.G. Smith Co., 915 F.2d 260, 261 (6th Cir. 1990) (citing Phillips v.
Carey, 638 F.2d 207, 208 (10th Cir. 1981)). Only after the complaint is filed is it tested to determine
whether it is frivolous or fails to state a claim. See id. at 261. The Court finds Plaintiff’s financial
affidavit facially sufficient; therefore, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff’s request to proceed without
prepayment of fees.
B. Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim
Upon granting a plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court performs a
preliminary screening of the complaint under several provisions of the United States Code. Pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1), the Court is to sua sponte dismiss the
case before service on Defendants if it determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
The Court has a duty to construe a pro se plaintiff’s pleadings liberally, see, e.g., Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), but in doing so, it will not re-write a deficient complaint or otherwise
serve as counsel for that plaintiff. See GJR Invs, Inc. v. County of Escambia, Fla., 132 F.3d 1359,
1369 (11th Cir. 1998). Construing Plaintiff’s complaint liberally, the Court finds that Plaintiff has
failed to state a claim upon which this Court may grant relief.
Plaintiff’s pleadings consist of a single three-page narrative, labeled as a complaint. The
complaint is devoid of any legal citation except for its first sentence, which states that Plaintiff is
bringing this suit “under Title VII (Equal Employment Opportunities) which prohibit [sic]
employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.”1 Next, the
complaint alleges that on November 10, 2010, Plaintiff was terminated from the Defendant Motor
City Casino (“MCC”) for making a threat against a female co-worker, Tapeka Austin (“Austin”).
Although he denies having ever threatened Austin, Plaintiff provides no claim, let alone any
evidence, that his termination for the alleged threats was discriminatory.
Instead of clearly stating a claim of discrimination, Plaintiff dedicates much of his complaint
to several allegations of impropriety against Austin, a “Labor Relations Manager,” and MCC.
Plaintiff argues that Austen had disciplinary action against her for making a threat, yet was given
a promotion. According to Plaintiff, this was due to the fact that Austin was a friend to the Labor
Relations Manager, who could not “afford to alienate [Austin because she] could and would reveal
everything she knows” about the incident taking place with Plaintiff. In so arguing, Plaintiff has
again failed to show how either Austin’s allegedly improper promotion, or her relationship to the
Labor Relations Manager, resulted in discrimination.
Last, Plaintiff also states that the Labor Relations Manager and the labor union felt Plaintiff
was a threat to them and to their jobs, since he had filed a grievance against a manager for allegedly
pursuing an associate for sexual favors. According to Plaintiff, his filing of the grievance indicated
to the Labor Relations Manager that Plaintiff “had the guts . . . [to] tell the higher-ups about [the
Labor Relations Manager’s] sexual relationship[.]” Nowhere in his complaint does Plaintiff relate
how these assertions, if true, resulted in discrimination against him. Moreover, Plaintiff’s claims
The Court will construe Plaintiff’s reference to “Title VII” as Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964.
are against MCC, not the Labor Relations Manager or the labor union, and in the absence of any
evidence showing otherwise, the Court will not infer any relationship between these entities.
In short, Plaintiff appears to claim employment discrimination based on race, color, religion,
national origin, or sex, yet fails to even mention who discriminated against him, how the purported
discrimination occurred, or where it took place. Plaintiff provides only a vague narrative regarding
various allegations of impropriety against MCC, the Labor Relations Manager, and the labor union.
Accordingly and for the reasons above, Plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed pursuant to §
1915(e) as it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma
pauperis [dkt 2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
S/Lawrence P. Zatkoff
LAWRENCE P. ZATKOFF
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: November 3, 2011
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that a copy of this Order was served upon the attorneys of record
by electronic or U.S. mail on November 3, 2011.
S/Marie E. Verlinde
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