Thomas v. Mental Health Association of Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - This action is dismissed without prejudice. Judgment will be entered by separate document. Ordered by Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (KLF)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
JOHN PAUL THOMAS,
MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION )
Plaintiff, John Paul Thomas, filed this case on April 17, 2017, and was granted
leave to proceed in forma pauperis on April 19, 2017. The court now conducts an
initial review of his Complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Plaintiff alleges Defendant, Mental Health Association of Nebraska (“MHA”),
a non-profit corporation, terminated his employment in violation of the Nebraska Fair
Employment Practice Act (“NFEPA”), Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 48-1101 et seq., because
he is male and because he reported a female employee was having sexual relations
with MHA’s parolee clients.
II. STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must
dismiss a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The
court must also satisfy itself that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Reece v. Bank
of N.Y. Mellon, 760 F.3d 771, 774 n. 1 (8th Cir. 2014) (it is the duty of district courts
to assure themselves of federal jurisdiction in every case before them).
Plaintiff alleges the court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3), which
provides: “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action
authorized by law to be commenced by any person . . . [t]o redress the deprivation,
under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any
right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any
Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the
jurisdiction of the United States[.]” Plaintiff’s jurisdictional allegation is incorrect.
As explained in Liles v. Reagan, 625 F. Supp. 1470, 1475 (D. Neb.), aff’d, 804
F.2d 493 (8th Cir. 1986):
[F]ederal courts are granted jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343 to
vindicate only federal rights. See, e.g., Brown v. Board of Bar Examiners
of State of Nevada, 623 F.2d 605, 609-10 (9th Cir.1980) and Ronwin v.
State Bar of Arizona, 686 F.2d 692, 698 n. 6 (9th Cir.1981) (stating that
the jurisdictional limitation stems from the express language of Section
1343), reversed on other grounds, Ronwin v. Hoover, 466 U.S. 558, 104
S.Ct. 1989, 80 L.Ed.2d 590 (1984). “[S]ection 1343(3) only provides
jurisdiction over claims that state officials have violated a constitutional
right or federal statute providing for equal rights.” Redd v. Lambert, 674
F.2d 1032, 1035 (5th Cir.1982). See also, Chapman v. Houston Welfare
Rights Org., 441 U.S. 600, 99 S.Ct. 1905, 60 L.Ed.2d 508 (1979).
In other words, the phrase “authorized by law” in § 1343(a)(3) does not include any
law, state or federal; rather, jurisdiction is limited to any action to redress the
deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any act
of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens.
Claims arising under NFEPA can be brought in federal court when there is
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) (“The district courts shall have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds
$75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between ... citizens of different
States[.]”) or supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) (“[I]n any civil
action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall
have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the
action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or
controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.”), but Plaintiff’s
allegations fail to establish that either statute applies in this case. Both parties appear
to be Nebraska citizens and Plaintiff is not claiming that his termination violated the
United States Constitution or any federal statute (which would give rise to original
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331).
The court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the state-law claims
alleged in Plaintiff’s Complaint.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
This action is dismissed without prejudice.
Judgment will be entered by separate document.
DATED this 17th day of May, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge
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