Williams v. Vancamp
ORDER of Summary Dismissal. Signed by District Judge Sean F. Cox. (JMcC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Otis Williams, III,
Case No. 17-10637
John Van Camp, et al.,
Honorable Sean F. Cox
ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
Acting pro se, Otis Williams III (“Williams”) filed this action on February 28, 2017.
Indigent litigants may request a waiver of filing fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Along with
Williams’s complaint, on February 28, 2017, he filed an application to allow him to proceed in
forma pauperis (without prepayment of the required filing fee). (Docket Entry No. 2).
This action was originally assigned to the Honorable Linda V. Parker, who granted
Williams’s application to proceed in forma pauperis in an order issued on February 28, 2017.
On March 24, 2017, Williams filed an Amended Complaint. (Docket Entry No. 5).
Thereafter, on April 5, 2017, Judge Parker disqualified herself from this action and the action
was randomly reassigned to the undersigned. (Docket Entry No. 6).
Because Williams is proceeding in forma pauperis, the applicable statute requires this
Court to dismiss this case, at any time, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2) (“the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court
determines that” the action “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.”). In addition,
even where a plaintiff has paid the filing fee, “a district court may, at any time, sua sponte
dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when the allegations of a complaint are totally implausible,
attenuated, unsubstantial, frivolous” or devoid of merit. Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d. 477, 479 (6th
Although this Court is mindful that pro se complaints must be liberally construed, even
when so construed, Williams’s complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
Williams’s original complaint identified Williams as the only Plaintiff in this action, and
the complaint was signed by Williams alone. (Docket Entry No. 1 at Pg ID 2 and 55).
On March 24, 2017, Williams filed an Amended Complaint, which replaced his original
complaint and is now the operative complaint in this action. The Amended Complaint is also
signed by Williams alone. Williams expressly acknowledges that he is proceeding pro se (ie.,
that he is not an attorney) yet Williams purports to represent numerous other individuals in this
action. The Amended Complaint names numerous Defendants, along with 1-100 unidentified
“john doe” individual defendants and 1-100 unidentified “john doe” corporate defendants.
Williams’s Amended Complaint seeks to prevent the foreclosure of various mortgages,
secured by real property. While the Amended Complaint purports to include five state-law
claims (“Lack of Standing to Foreclose,” “Fraud in the Concealment,” “Fraud in the
Inducement,” “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress,” and “Slander of Title”), all of those
claims are related to the underlying mortgages – none of which is alleged to be a mortgage
agreement to which Williams himself is a party.
It is well established that a party in federal court must proceed either through licensed
counsel or on his or her own behalf. See U.S.C. § 1654; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(a) (“[e]very
pleading, written motion, and other paper shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in the
attorney’s individual name, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney, shall be signed by
the party.”). No pro se plaintiff may sign pleadings, or initiate a civil action, on behalf of
another person. Sheperd v. Wellman, 313 F.3d 963, 970-71 (6th Cir. 2002). Where a person
attempts to proceed pro se on behalf of another, the appropriate remedy is dismissal. Id.; see
also Jackson v. Caldwell, 2009 WL 4042917 (E.D. Mich. 2009).
Accordingly, the Court hereby DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE any claims that
Williams purports to bring on behalf of others in this action. Williams may only assert claims in
this action on his own behalf.
For the most part, Williams’s Amended Complaint consists of an incoherent stream of
words and legal phrases. Even with a liberal reading of the allegations in the Amended
Complaint, this Court is unable to discern any cognizable claim brought on Williams’s own
behalf. Accordingly, the Court ORDERS that Williams’s own claims are DISMISSED for
failure to state a claim, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1).
In addition, this Court also lacks subject jurisdiction over this action. The Amended
Complaint asserts only state-law claims and reflects that diversity jurisdiction does not exist, as
Williams indicates he is a citizen of Michigan and has named Defendants that are also citizens of
Michigan,1 along with 200 unidentified “john doe” defendants, whose citizenship is not
specified. The action is therefore DISMISSED FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER
See Amended Complaint at Pg ID 73.
Finally, the Court notes that two documents titled “Notice of Removal” (Docket Entry
Nos. 7 & 8) were filed on the docket in this action on April 10, 2017, by persons other than
Williams. Those “Notices of Removal,” signed by Gregory Simmons and Ernest Cornelius,
purport to remove two landlord tenant cases from the 36th District Court in Detroit, Michigan,
into this existing civil action filed by Williams.
Upon initial review by the Court under its screening function under § 1915, and under its
obligations under the removal statute, the Court concludes those Notices of Removal were
improperly filed in this case. This is because a case cannot be removed from state court to
become part of an already existing federal case. See, e.g., Gilliam v. Austin, 2002 WL 1034115
at *4 (N.D. Cal. May 13, 2002); Galvan v. Nationstar Mortgage, 2014 WL 644320 at *1 (D.
Nev. 2014); Putnam, Inc. v. R.E.F.S. Inc., 2012 WL 3288241 (E.D. Cal. 2012); Iqbal v. Afzai,
2010 WL 934065 (N.D. Cal. 2010). In a proper removal, “the notice of removal is the means of
removing a case from state court to federal district court, where it is viewed as a ‘new’ case and
is assigned a ‘new’ case number.” Gilliam, supra, at *4.2
Accordingly, for all of these reasons, the Court hereby STRIKES those Notices of
Removal (Docket Entry Nos. 7 & 8).
This is a final order and CLOSES this action.
Moreover, the docket reflects that neither Simmons nor Cornelius paid a filing fee for
the purported removals, even though such a fee is explicitly required for removal actions. 28
U.S.C. § 1914(a); see also Fee Schedule for United States District Court, Eastern District of
Michigan, showing $400.00 civil case filing fee for notices of removal, at
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: April 20, 2017
s/Sean F. Cox
Sean F. Cox
U. S. District Judge
I hereby certify that on April 20, 2017, the foregoing document was served on counsel of record
via electronic means and upon Otis Williams, III via First Class mail at the address below:
Otis Williams, III
611 O'Keefe Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70113
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