Wray v. Health & Hospital Corporation
MEMORANDUM & ORDER granting Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis; and, DISMISSING the Complaint, without prejudice, for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that a ny 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. Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438,445-45 (1962). So Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 6/5/2017. (c/m to pro se; fwd'd for jgm) (Lee, Tiffeny)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
- against HEALTH AND HOSPITAL CORPORATION,
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS,United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Albertha Wray, proceeding pro se, brings this action against her former
employer. Defendant Health & Hospital Corporation, alleging that she was removed from her
employment without cause. (Compl.(Dkt. 2).) Plaintifffiled a request to proceed in forma
pauperis("IFP"). The court GRANTS Plaintiffs motion to appear IFP for purposes ofthis
Order. However,for the following reasons, the court DISMISSES Plaintiffs Complaint for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction.
Plaintiff commenced this action on May 19, 2017,in the Southern District ofNew York.
(Compl.) Plaintiff alleges that her employment with Defendant was terminated on December 19,
2011,following an unsatisfactory evaluation. (Iff at 5.) Plaintiff asserts that she worked for
Defendant for seven years prior to her dismissal and that her performance during that period was
satisfactory. (Iff) She also states that she was an "active union member of...[the]
Communications Workers Ass[ociation]." (Iff) According to Plaintiff, she has been unable to
obtain other employment since Defendant terminated her, which she asserts resulted from a
"block put against her name." Hd.I Plaintiff avers that her removal and subsequent
unemployment have "caused  economic hardship" and that her "situation is deteriorating." (Iff
In her Complaint, Plaintiff also describes an apparently separate incident, claiming that
that she was"brought to the hospital against [her] will" in August 2015 and January 2016 and
adniinistered painkillers and blood thinning drugs. (Id at 6.) It is unclear whether Plaintiff's
allusion to the "hospital" refers to Defendant or another entity.^
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a),the court may waive the filing fees normally required of
a party upon finding a plaintiff indigent. However,that statute also requires the court to dismiss
the case if, on review, it determines that the complaint is "frivolous or malicious," "fails to state
a claim on which relief may be granted," or "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from relief." Id § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).
Under Rule 8 ofthe Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain a "short
and plain" statement ofthe basis for the court's jurisdiction and the claim, showing the pleading
party's entitlement to relief, as well as a demand for the type ofrelief sought. Fed. R. Civ.
P. 8(a). Under this requirement, a complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Com, v. Twomblv.550 U.S. 544,570(2007). "A claim
' court notes that both ofPlaintiffs allegations here appear to have been raised in prior cases before this court.
In August 2014, Plaintifffiled a lawsuit against Defendant in which she raised substantially similar allegations
regarding the termination of her employment. (Compl.(Dkt. l),No. 14-CV-4955). The court dismissed that case
for failure to pay the required filing fee or make a sufficient show ofindigency to proceed EFP. (Order Dismissing
Compl.(Dkt. 5), No. 14-CV-4955.) The court also noted at that time that Plaintiff did not allege facts supporting
her claims, which at that time were based on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. (Mem.& Order(Dkt. 4),
No. 14-CV-4955.) Plaintiffthen filed a second, separate lawsuit naming New York Methodist Hospital as defendant
and alleging that she was brought to that hospital against her will. (Compl.(Dkt. 1), No. 16-CV-1618.) The court
also dismissed this second action, this time based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on Plaintiffs failure to
identify a plausible cause of action under the Constitution or any federal laws. (Order Dismissing Compl.(Dkt. 4),
has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal.
556 U.S. 662,678(2009)(intemal quotation marks omitted). At the pleadings stage ofthe
proceeding, a court must assume the truth of"all nonconclusory factual allegations" contained in
the complaint. Kiobel v. Roval Dutch Petroleum Co.. 621 F.3d 111,123(2d Cir. 2010)(citing
Iqbal. 556 U.S.at 677).
"A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus. 551 U.S. 89,94(2007)(intemal quotation marks and citations
omitted). Submissions by pro se litigants must be "interpreted to raise the strongest arguments
that they suggest." Trestman v. Fed. Bureau ofPrisons. 470 F.3d 471,474(2d Cir. 2006).
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
In addition to the considerations listed under the IFF statute, if the court "determines at
any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction,[it] must dismiss the action." Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(h)(3). Federal courts are courts oflimited jurisdiction and may not preside over cases if
they lack subject matter jurisdiction. Lvndonville Sav. Bank & Tmst Co. v. Lussier. 211 F.3d
697,700-01 (2d Cir. 2000). The primary statutory grants for federal subject matter jurisdiction
are those contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which provides for "federal question"jurisdiction, and
28 U.S.C. § 1332, which provides for jurisdiction based on "diversity of citizenship." A plaintiff
properly invokes federal question jurisdiction when she pleads a colorable claim "arising under"
the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. She properly invokes diversity
jurisdiction when she presents a claim between parties of diverse citizenship that exceeds the
required jurisdictional amount,currently $75,000. See id. § 1332(a); Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp..
546 U.S. 500, 513(2006)(citing Bell v. Hood. 327 U.S. 678,681-85 (1946)).
The Complaint fails to allege any facts that would support federal jurisdiction and so it
must be dismissed. The court notes at the outset that Plaintiff does not allege that the court has
jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship ("See Compl. at 2), nor does she plead any facts
indicating that diversity jurisdiction would be proper.^ Accordingly, whether the court has
subject matter jurisdiction over the Complaint hinges on whether Plaintiff has raised a claim that
"arises under" federal law.
After review ofthe Complaint, the court is unable to identify any facts that would support
a claim under federal law. Plaintiff does not cite any constitutional or statutory provision that
she alleges Defendant to have violated. (^See generallv Compl.) Even construing the Complaint
to "raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s]," the court is unable to find a colorable claim
that the actions complained of violated federal law. Plaintiff does not suggest that her
termination was motivated by some discriminatory intent that might fall within the coverage of
federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. See, e.g., 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(prohibiting
employers from discharging an employee "because of[the] individual's age");
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(l)(prohibiting employers fi om terminating employment "because of an
individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin"). Even if Plaintiffs allegations are
viewed as tying her termination in some way to her status as a union member,they still would
not give rise to a federal question. Beyond stating that she was in a union. Plaintiff does not
^ Plaintiff lists both her own address and that of Defendant as being in New York, and she does not allege that
Defendant resides in any state other than New York. If, as it appears, both parties are New York residents, then
there is no diversity of citizenship between them. See, e.g.. Wis. Dep't of Corr. v. Schacht. 524 U.S. 381,388
("A case falls within the federal court's 'original' diversity'jurisdiction' only if diversity ofcitizenship
among the parties is complete, i.e.. only ifthere is no plaintiffand no defendant who are citizens ofthe same
allege that her removal violated her rights provided for by the Labor Management Relations Act
or the union's collective bargaining agreement with Defendant(if any).
The same result applies to Plaintiffs claim that she was forcibly hospitalized. As with
her prior action raising similar claims(see infra note 1), the court can only construe her
allegations as raising a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and again finds that she fails to allege facts
that go to the required element of state action. See Fabrikant v. French. 691 F.3d 193,206(2d
Cir. 2012)("[A] litigant claiming that his constitutional rights have been violated must first
establish that the challenged conduct constitutes state action."(internal quotation marks and
citation omitted)). In this instance, it is not even clear who Plaintiff alleges harmed her, and the
court cannot infer state action in the absence of any guidance whatsoever.
Accordingly, as Plaintifffails to raise a claim that gives rise to jurisdiction under either
diversity or federal question, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over her Complaint and it
must be dismissed. Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co.,526 U.S. 574, 583(1999)("Where
jurisdiction is lacking,... dismissal is mandatory."),
For the reasons set forth above,the court DISMISSES the Complaint, without prejudice,
for lack ofsubject-matter jurisdiction. 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. Connedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438,445-45
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
s/Nicholas G. Garaufis
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?