Stringfellow v. Federal Reserve Board
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION of the United States Magistrate Judge re 1 Complaint and 2 Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Steven J. Stringfellow. The Court GRANTS Plaintiff in forma pauperis status. Service on the Defendant shall be withheld pending the District Court's review of the report and recommendations.Signed by Judge Susan Hightower. (jv2)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
STEVEN JACOB STRINGFELLOW,
THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD
and THE UNITED STATES OF
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE HONORABLE ROBERT PITMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Before the Court are Plaintiff Steven Jacob’s Stringfellow’s Complaint (Dkt. 1) and Motion to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Dkt. 2), both filed April 4, 2022. The District Court referred this case
to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for disposition of the Application and Report and
Recommendation as to whether the case should be dismissed as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e),
pursuant to Rule 1 of Appendix C of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the
Western District of Texas and the Court Docket Management Standing Order. Dkt. 3.
In Forma Pauperis Status
After reviewing Plaintiff’s Application, the Court finds that he is indigent. Accordingly, the
Court HEREBY GRANTS Plaintiff in forma pauperis status and ORDERS his Complaint to be
filed without pre-payment of fees or costs or giving security therefor, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1). This indigent status is granted subject to a later determination that the action should
be dismissed if the allegation of poverty is untrue or the action is found frivolous or malicious
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Plaintiff is further advised that although he has been granted leave
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to proceed in forma pauperis, a Court may, in its discretion, impose costs of court at the conclusion
of this lawsuit, as in other cases. Moore v. McDonald, 30 F.3d 616, 621 (5th Cir. 1994).
As stated below, the Court has conducted a § 1915(e) review of the claims in the Complaint
and recommends that Plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Therefore,
service on the Defendant should be withheld pending the District Court’s review of the
recommendations made in this report. If the District Court declines to adopt the recommendations,
service should be issued on the Defendant at that time.
Section 1915(e)(2) Frivolousness Review
A. Standard of Review
Because Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is required
by standing order to review his Complaint under § 1915(e)(2). A district court may summarily
dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it concludes that the action is (1) frivolous or
malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Under this statute, a claim is frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Talib v. Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir.
1998). “A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory, such as if the complaint alleges the violation of a legal interest which clearly does not
exist.” Harper v. Showers, 174 F.3d 716, 718 (5th Cir. 1999) (quoting Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d
882, 889 (5th Cir. 1998)). It lacks an arguable factual basis only if the facts alleged are “clearly
baseless,” a category encompassing “fanciful,” “fantastic,” and “delusional” allegations. Denton
v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992) (citing Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28). “Some claims are
so insubstantial, implausible, or otherwise completely devoid of merit as not to involve a federal
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controversy. Federal courts lack power to entertain these wholly insubstantial and frivolous
claims.” Atakapa Indian de Creole Nation v. Louisiana, 943 F.3d 1004, 1006 (5th Cir. 2019)
B. Plaintiff’s Complaint Should Be Dismissed under § 1915(e)(2)
Plaintiff brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Federal Reserve Board
and the United States of America, alleging that: “The Federal Reserve System has become to stand
as an unnecessary entropy upon the Treasury manifesting as deprivations of life, liberty and
property.” Dkt. 1 at 1 [sic]. Plaintiff alleges that the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 is unconstitutional
and seeks “a return to a treasury which does not charge the people interest for the money we print
for ourselves.” Id. at 9.
Courts have repeatedly rejected and dismissed as frivolous similar claims alleging that the
Federal Reserve System is unconstitutional. See, e.g., Ginter v. Southern, 611 F.2d 1226, 1229
(8th Cir. 1979) (finding tax protestor’s claims concerning constitutionality of Federal Reserve
System “so frivolous that we do not discuss them in any detail”); Greene v. Pryce, No. 15-CV3527 MKB, 2015 WL 4987893, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 18, 2015) (dismissing claim that Federal
Reserve Act is unconstitutional under § 1915); Ayler v. BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, No. 1212442, 2012 WL 2885999, at *1 (E.D. Mich. July 13, 2012) (dismissing as frivolous plaintiff’s
claim that Federal Reserve System is unconstitutional);Vella v. McCammon, No. CIV H-85-5580,
1986 WL 15772, at *3 (S.D. Tex. July 29, 1986) (same).
Even if Plaintiff alleged a cognizable constitutional claim, his claims are barred by sovereign
immunity because the Federal Reserve Board is an agency of the United States. Haase v. Bank of
Am. Corp., No. 4:16-CV-1567, 2017 WL 1240105, at *5 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 8, 2017). Absent a waiver,
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sovereign immunity shields the Federal Government and its agencies from suit. FDIC v. Meyer,
510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994).
Because sovereign immunity is jurisdictional in nature, absent a waiver of sovereign immunity,
this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants. See id.; Haase, 2017
WL 1240105, at *5. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s lawsuit should be dismissed as frivolous under
ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION
Based on the foregoing, the undersigned Magistrate Judge GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Dkt. 2) and RECOMMENDS that the District Court DISMISS
Plaintiff’s lawsuit as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
It is FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk REMOVE this case from the Magistrate Court’s
docket and RETURN it to the docket of the Honorable Robert Pitman.
The parties may file objections to this Report and Recommendation. A party filing objections
must specifically identify those findings or recommendations to which objections are being made.
The District Court need not consider frivolous, conclusive, or general objections. See Battle v.
United States Parole Comm’n, 834 F.2d 419, 421 (5th Cir. 1987). A party’s failure to file written
objections to the proposed findings and recommendations contained in this Report within fourteen
(14) days after the party is served with a copy of the Report shall bar that party from de novo
review by the District Court of the proposed findings and recommendations in the Report and,
except on grounds of plain error, shall bar the party from appellate review of unobjected-to
proposed factual findings and legal conclusions accepted by the District Court. See 28 U.S.C.
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§ 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150-53 (1985); Douglass v. United Servs. Auto. Ass’n,
79 F.3d 1415, 1428-29 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc).
SIGNED on May 8, 2022.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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