Brown v. Turret & Sunbelt Steel Company et al
MEMORANDUM & ORDER: The Court grants Plaintiff's 2 application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 solely for the purpose of this Memorandum and Order. Accordingly, the Court dismisses the Complai nt for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court grants Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint within 30 days from the date of this Memorandum and Order. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint within the time allowe d, the Court shall enter judgment dismissing this action for the reasons set forth above. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith, and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of an appeal. SO ORDERED by Judge Margo K. Brodie, on 4/11/2017. C/mailed. (Latka-Mucha, Wieslawa)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
--------------------------------------------------------------RONALD L. BROWN,
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
TURRET & SUNBELT STEEL COMPANY,
MICROSOFT, VERIZON, GOOGLE OFFICE AND
GLOBAL NETWORKS OFFICES, NIKON, CON
EDISON, ANTHONY BARNA, PROGRESS
SOLAR, QUALCOMM, IBM, DONALD MEEKER,
APPLE CORP., CRM-INC., MEDIA
PROGRAMMING SERVICE, GEORGIA
INSTITUTE FOR ELECTRONICS, LIGHTPATH,
SEVEN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, FUZE CORP.,
STRIA LITHIUM INC., RUSTY
CLARK/ADVANCE STRIPPING, INC., and
ENDEAVOR AND EASTMAN-SCIENTIFIC, INC.,
--------------------------------------------------------------MARGO K. BRODIE, United States District Judge:
Plaintiff Ronald L. Brown,1 proceeding pro se, commenced the above-captioned action
on January 17, 2017 against twenty-one Defendants, alleging a “Violation of Civil Rights”.
(Compl., Docket Entry No. 1.) The Court grants Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma
On page two of the Complaint, Plaintiff is identified as Ron L. Brown/IAM Portable
Hybrid Trailer Group, Inc. To the extent Brown is attempting to represent a corporate entity, as
a non-attorney pro se litigant, he may not do so. See Pridgen v. Andresen, 113 F.3d 391 (2d Cir.
1997) (“[I]t is well established that a layperson may not represent a corporation.” (citing Shapiro,
Bernstein & Co. v. Cont’l Record Co., 386 F.2d 426, 427 (2d Cir. 1967) (per curiam)). Thus, the
Court treats pro se litigant Brown as the only Plaintiff.
pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 solely for the purpose of this Memorandum and Order.2
For the reasons discussed below, the Court dismisses the Complaint.
In the form Complaint, Plaintiff checks the box indicating that he is bringing a claim
against federal officials, (Compl. 3), and identifies the location of the claim as occurring “[o]n a
virtue Public Domain website,” (id. at 4). In identifying the relevant facts, the Complaint alleges
that the email address for Plaintiff’s company, email@example.com, “was over
tak[en] by the government,” and he no longer has any access to the email. (Id.) The Complaint
alleges that Plaintiff is “the inventor” of a patent. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff states that he was granted a
patent on January 21, 2014 for “cloud software” and “cloud hybrid technology.” (Id. at 5.)
Plaintiff alleges that the patent was available for “franchise License opportunity” to “government
and private businesses . . . with each having shared interest, by a split of the royalties.” (Id. at 5.)
Plaintiff claims that his civil rights have been violated and that he has not been paid the royalties
he was due for his patent. (Id.) Plaintiff attaches over eighty pages of exhibits to the Complaint,
but the exhibits do not provide any additional information about the alleged civil rights violation.
(See generally id. at 16–52.) Plaintiff seeks, among other relief, “royalties” and one billion
dollars in damages.3 (Id.)
Although Plaintiff presents conflicting information in his request to proceed in forma
pauperis, Plaintiff states that he is unemployed and has significant financial obligations. The
Court therefore grants his request. DiGianni v. Pearson Educ., No. 10-CV-206, 2010 WL
1741373, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 30, 2010) (noting that whether a plaintiff qualifies for in forma
pauperis status is within the discretion of the district court).
Plaintiff also filed a second action before this Court for breach of contract against some
of the Defendants. See Brown v. Apple, No. 17-CV-369 (E.D.N.Y. filed Jan. 17, 2017). The
Court dismissed that action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and denied Plaintiff leave to
amend. See Memorandum and Order, Brown v. Apple, No. 17-CV-369 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 11,
2017), Docket Entry No. 4).
Standard of review
A complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible “when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Matson v. Bd. of Educ., 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir.
2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Although all allegations contained
in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is “inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must be mindful that a plaintiff’s
pleadings should be held “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976)); see Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (noting that even after
Twombly, the court “remain[s] obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally”).
Nevertheless, the Court is required to dismiss sua sponte an in forma pauperis action if
the Court determines it “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); see also Abbas v. Dixon, 480 F.3d 636, 639 (2d Cir. 2007).
In addition, 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); see also Cortlandt St. Recovery Corp.
v. Hellas Telecomms., S.À.R.L., 790 F.3d 411, 416–17 (2d Cir. 2015) (A district court may
dismiss an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) when the court
“lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it . . . .” (quoting Makarova v. United
States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000))).
The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the allegations and therefore dismisses
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may not hear cases if they lack
subject matter jurisdiction over the issues presented. Lyndonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v.
Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 700–01 (2d Cir. 2000). The statutory provisions for federal subject matter
jurisdiction are contained in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. Federal question jurisdiction provides
federal courts jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties
of the United States.” Bounds v. Pine Belt Mental Health Care Res., 593 F.3d 209, 215 (2d Cir.
2010) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1331). A plaintiff properly invokes section 1331 jurisdiction when
he pleads a colorable claim “arising under” the Constitution or laws of the United States. Under
the diversity jurisdiction statute, federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction over state law
claims where the plaintiff and defendant are of diverse citizenship and “the matter in controversy
exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); see
also Bayerische Landesbank, N.Y. Branch v. Aladdin Capital Mgmt. LLC, 692 F.3d 42, 48 (2d
Cir. 2012). For purposes of diversity of citizenship, a corporation is a citizen of its state of
incorporation and the state of its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1); see
also Bayerische Landesbank, 692 F.3d at 48.
Here, Plaintiff fails to show that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction. Even though
Plaintiff specifically brings this action as a civil rights complaint, (Compl. 1), and invokes this
court’s jurisdiction to sue federal officials for the violation of certain constitutional rights
pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
(1971), (id. at 3), Plaintiff has not named any federal officials as defendants nor identified any
constitutional rights that were allegedly violated. Nor does he state any facts to support any such
claim. See S. New England Tel. Co. v. Glob. NAPs Inc., 624 F.3d 123, 132 (2d Cir. 2010)
(holding that a claim invoking federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 may be
dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction if it is not colorable, i.e., if it is “immaterial and
made solely for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction” or is “wholly insubstantial and frivolous”
Similarly, the Complaint does not provide a basis for the Court to exercise its diversity
jurisdiction because Plaintiff has not asserted facts to demonstrate complete diversity of
citizenship between Plaintiff and Defendants. See Pa. Pub. Sch. Emps.’ Ret. Sys. v. Morgan
Stanley & Co., 772 F.3d 111, 117–18 (2d Cir. 2014) (“Subject matter jurisdiction is based on 28
U.S.C. § 1332, which requires ‘complete diversity,’ i.e. all plaintiffs must be citizens of states
diverse from those of all defendants.” (citation omitted)); St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co. v.
Univ. Builders Supply, 409 F.3d 73, 80 (2d Cir. 2005) (“Diversity is not complete if any plaintiff
is a citizen of the same state as any defendant.” (citation omitted)). Based on the addresses of
Plaintiff and Defendants as identified in the Complaint, complete diversity is lacking. Both
Plaintiff and four of the Defendants, Con Edison Inc., Media Programming Services, Lightpath
and Verizon Wireless, are located in New York. (Compl. 7–8.) Accordingly, because Plaintiff
has not alleged that he is diverse from the Defendants, the Court cannot exercise diversity
jurisdiction. See Lovejoy v. Watson, 475 F. App’x 792, 792 (2d Cir. 2012) (“The complaint
alleged that Lovejoy and the defendant resided in New York, thereby precluding
diversity jurisdiction.”); Univ. Builders Supply, 409 F.3d at 82 (holding that two plaintiffs from
the same state as the defendant destroyed diversity).
Because Plaintiff fails to allege facts from which the Court can conclude that it has
jurisdiction, the Court dismisses the Complaint against Defendants. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(b); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). However, based on Plaintiff’s reference to a patent,
the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint to bring a claim for patent infringement
to the extent he intended to bring such a claim.
Leave to amend
In light of Plaintiff’s pro se status, the Court grants Plaintiff thirty (30) days from the date
of this Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint. Should Plaintiff elect to file an
amended complaint, the amended complaint must comply with Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, and it must “plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint will
completely replace the original complaint, must be captioned “Amended Complaint,” and must
bear the same docket number as this Memorandum and Order. The amended complaint should
state a basis for this Court to exercise either (1) federal question jurisdiction by alleging a cause
of action arising under federal law or (2) diversity jurisdiction by alleging complete diversity
between Plaintiff and all Defendants as described in this Memorandum and Order. Any
amended complaint should also include allegations as to how Defendants acted unlawfully. If
Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days of this Memorandum and
Order, the Court will enter judgment dismissing the action.
Accordingly, the Court dismisses the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). The Court grants Plaintiff leave to file
an amended complaint within thirty (30) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order. If
Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint within the time allowed, the Court shall enter
judgment dismissing this action for the reasons set forth above. The Court certifies pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith, and
therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of an appeal. See Coppedge v.
United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444–45 (1962).
MARGO K. BRODIE
United States District Judge
Dated: April 11, 2017
Brooklyn, New York
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