BATTLES v. PENNA HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION SIGNED BY HONORABLE GERALD J. PAPPERT ON 2/12/18. 2/13/18 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE.(ti, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MISS BOBBIE JEAN BATTLES,
FINANCE AGENCY, et al.,
February 12, 2018
Plaintiff Bobbie Jean Battles, proceeding pro se, filed this lawsuit against the
Penna Housing Finance Agency, Daryl P. Rotz, the Philadelphia Property Tax
Department, the Philadelphia Water Revenue Department, Howard Neukurg, Judge
John Herron, the “Commonwealth of Philadelphia,” Temple Episcopal Mental Hospital,
Social Worker Madeline, and “Falsified 303.” She has also filed a motion to proceed in
forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Battles leave to proceed
in forma pauperis, dismiss her Complaint, and grant leave to amend.
Battles alleges that since 2010, “the system (mental system) had [her]
repetitiously in mental hospitals.” (Compl. at 3.) She states that at some time in 2016,
the “system held [her] over seventy-three (73) days for falsified 303 complaint.” (Id.)
Battles contends that the Penna Housing Finance Agency, the Philadelphia Property
Tax Department, and the Philadelphia Water Revenue Department “slapped a financial
obligation debt on [her] which is [dirty laundry] owing debts which were forged.” (Id.)
She further argues that Judge Herron “illegally ruled incapacity” and that the Temple
Episcopal social worker “filed a falsified mental 303 complaint 2016.”
indicates that the Court should refer to her filings in her previous case, Civil Action No.
Battles has attached numerous exhibits to her Complaint, including, but not
limited to, copies of tax returns, food stamps applications, Comcast bills, water bills, the
schedule for SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill train line, a document from her gastroenterologist
about the importance of eating a fibrous diet, and various photographs. In one of her
attachments, Battles indicates that this action is an appeal of her case that was
dismissed by Judge Idee Fox of the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia. A review
of public dockets reflects that on September 28, 2017, Battles filed a complaint in the
Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia against the Commonwealth of Philadelphia,
Judge Herron, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Philadelphia Real Estate
Department, and the Philadelphia Water Revenue Department. Battles v. Herron, No.
170903490 (Phila. Ct. Common Pleas). On October 2, 2017, Judge Fox granted Battles
leave to proceed in forma pauperis, dismissed her complaint without prejudice for
failure to state a claim, and noted that the court lacked jurisdiction to determine her
Battles may proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that she is incapable
of paying the fees necessary to commence this action.
Accordingly, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to dismiss the Complaint if it fails
By Order entered on June 15, 2015, the Court dismissed Battles’ complaint in Civil Action No.
15-3238 because it did not comply with the requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Battles v. Rotz, No. 15-3238 (ECF No. 2 filed June 15, 2015).
to state a claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is
governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), see Tourscher v. McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999),
which requires the Court to determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). Conclusory statements
and naked assertions will not suffice. Id. The Court may also consider matters of
public record. Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). As
Battles is proceeding pro se, the Court construes her allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att’y
Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Moreover, Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a complaint
to contain “a short a plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” A district court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint that does not comply with
Rule 8 if “the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible
that its true substance, if any, is well disguised.” Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86
(2d Cir. 1995) (quotations omitted). This Court has noted that Rule 8 “requires that
pleadings provide enough information to put a defendant on sufficient notice to prepare
their defense and also ensure that the Court is sufficiently informed to determine the
issue.” Fabian v. St. Mary’s Med. Ctr., No. Civ. A. 16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3
(E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2017) (quotations omitted).
Battles appears to be appealing Judge Fox’s dismissal of her state court case.
Pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, however, “federal district courts lack
jurisdiction over suits that are essentially appeals from state-court judgments.” Great
W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 165 (3d Cir. 2010). The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine accordingly deprives a federal district court of jurisdiction
over “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court
judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting
district court review and rejection of those judgments.” Id. at 166 (quotations omitted).
To the extent Battles seeks reversal of Judge Fox’s order dismissing her case without
prejudice, the Court lacks jurisdiction to do so.
To the extent that Battles raises any claims that are not barred by the RookerFeldman doctrine, her Complaint fails to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. It appears that Battles believes she was illegally either involuntarily
committed or found to be incompetent at some time during 2016 and that she has been
held responsible for false debts to various departments of the City of Philadelphia. The
Court cannot discern any plausible claims for relief against the named Defendants
because Battles has not provided any facts to support her allegations.
In deference to Battles’ pro se status, the Court will give her leave to file an
amended complaint within thirty (30) days of the date of this Memorandum and Order
in the event that she can state a plausible claim that lies within this Court’s
jurisdiction. Any amended complaint shall be a complete document that identifies all of
the defendants in the caption in addition to the body, and shall describe in detail the
basis for Battles’ claims against each defendant. Any amended complaint may not
direct the Court to refer to Battles’ filings in Civil Action No. 15-3238 and may not refer
to any of the numerous documents that Battles submitted with her Complaint in this
If Battles fails to file an amended complaint, her case may, without further
notice, be dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will grant Battles’ motion to proceed in
forma pauperis and will dismiss her Complaint. This dismissal is without prejudice to
Battles’ right to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days in the event that she
can cure the defects noted above. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103,
114 (3d Cir. 2002). An appropriate Order follows, which shall be docketed separately.
/s/ Gerald J. Pappert
GERALD J. PAPPERT, J.
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