BROWN v. COTTON
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JUAN R. SANCHEZ ON 2/9/2018. 2/9/2018 ENTERED AND COPIES MAILED TO PRO SE.(kp, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Plaintiff Sharvon Brown filed this civil action against Claudette Cotton. It also appears
that she intended to bring claims against Ms. Cotton's husband, James Connell Boone, although
she failed to name Mr. Boone as a defendant in the caption in accordance with Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 10. Ms. Brown also filed a motion to proceed informa pauperis. For the
following reasons, the Court will grant Ms. Brown leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
dismiss her complaint.
Ms. Brown does not provide much information in her Complaint. She seems to be
alleging that Ms. Cotton owes her $300.00 and that Mr. Boone owes her $100.00. She alleges
that they "all check in the food stamp card and get cash back." (Compl. at 4.) In the caption of
the Complaint, Ms. Brown indicates that Ms. Cotton "owe[s] [her] 300.00 dollars and she getting
money while don't get service but no service in the home has a care take and break down the
check which she should has service but don't." (Id at 1.) It appears from the cover sheet that
Ms. Brown filled out that she believes she is bringing this case based on a "federal offense."
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Ms. Brown is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that she is
not capable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. As Ms. Brown is proceeding in
forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies. That provision require the Court to
dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim. To survive dismissal, the complaint must
contain "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). "[M]ere conclusory
statements do not suffice." Id. As Ms. Brown is proceeding prose, the Court construes her
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Additionally, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to contain "a
short and 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). Moreover,
"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).
Ms. Brown's Complaint does not comply with Rule 8(a) or state a claim because Ms.
Brown has not set forth a clear explanation of the facts giving rise to a claim against the
Defendants. Although Ms. Brown alleges that the Defendants owe her money, apparently in
connection with federal benefits, it does not appear that she has any basis for a claim for relief
within the Court's jurisdiction. If she sought to report a federal crime, she should report that
crime to the United States Attorney's Office for this district rather than initiating a lawsuit in this
Court. See Godfrey v. Pennsylvania, 525 F. App'x 78, 80 n.1 (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam)
("[T]here is no federal right to require the government to initiate criminal proceedings." (citing
Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973))); Mikhail v. Kahn, 991 F. Supp. 2d 596, 636
(E.D. Pa. 2014) ("[F]ederal courts lack the power to direct the filing of criminal charges."), aff'd,
572 F. App'x 68 (3d Cir. 2014) (per curiam).
As noted above, the Court cannot discern any plausible basis for a federal claim here.
There is also no basis for jurisdiction over any state law claims. The only possible basis for the
Court's jurisdiction over state law claims is 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), which grants a district court
jurisdiction over "all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between ... citizens of different States."
Diversity jurisdiction requires "complete diversity," which in turn requires that "no plaintiff be a
citizen of the same state as any defendant." Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d
412, 419 (3d Cir. 2010). Here, the Complaint reflects that the parties are not completely diverse
and that the amount in controversy is $400.00, which is far below the jurisdictional threshold.
The Court will dismiss the Complaint for the reasons above. As it appears that Ms.
Brown cannot cure the defects in her claims, she will not be given leave to amend. See Grayson
v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 112-13 (3d Cir. 2002). An appropriate order follows.
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