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Johnson v. Vills. of Bennington Prop. Owners Conservancy

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

January 24, 2018



          John T. Fowlkes, Jr. United States District Judge

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation entered by the Magistrate Judge in the above-styled case. (ECF No. 11.) On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their pro se Complaint, accompanied by their Motions seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”). (ECF Nos.1, 2, & 3.) Pursuant to Administrative Order 2013-15, this case was assigned to the Magistrate Judge for management of all pretrial matters. On November 22, 2017, the Magistrate Judge entered an Order granting both IFP Motions. (ECF No. 10.) The Magistrate Judge subsequently issued a Report and Recommendation on December 13, 2017, suggesting that this Court dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint in its entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 11, 6.)Plaintiff did not file any Objections to the Report and Recommendation, and the deadline for doing so has passed. Plaintiffs did file an Amended Complaint on December 28, 2017. (ECF No. 12.)


         Implicit in his Report and Recommendation, is the Magistrate Judge's determination that proposed findings of fact are not necessary in this case. Compare Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(1), with ECF No. 11. Rather, the Magistrate Judge issued his Report and Recommendation based on Plaintiffs' Complaint and the applicable law. The Court, for purposes of its analysis, similarly incorporates the same as well as Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), magistrate judges may hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the Court, except various dispositive motions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Upon hearing a pending matter, “the magistrate judge must enter a recommended disposition, including, if appropriate, proposed findings of fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1); see also Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed.Appx. 308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003). The district court may accept, reject, or modify the proposed findings or recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

         Any party who disagrees with a magistrate's proposed findings and recommendation may file written objections to the report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). The standard of review that is applied by the district court depends on the nature of the matter considered by the magistrate judge. See Baker, 67 Fed.Appx. at 310. The district court is not required to review-under a de novo or any other standard-those aspects of the report and recommendation to which no objection is made. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). A district judge should adopt the findings and rulings of the magistrate judge to which no specific objection is filed. Brown, 47 F.Supp.3d at 674.

         Pursuant to Local Rule 4.1, service will not issue in a pro se case where the pro se plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed IFP until the complaint has been screened under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). LR 4.1(b). Courts must screen IFP complaints and dismiss any complaint, or portion thereof, if the allegation of poverty is untrue or if the action (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). To state a claim, courts hold as follows:

[A] complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. A complaint must have enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim 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.

Davidson v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, No. 17-5429, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 24272, at *6 (6th Cir.Nov. 29, 2017).

         Additionally, Courts must remain conscious that pro se pleadings, though not free from basic pleading requirements, are “held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383(6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Upon de novo review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, this Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to dismiss Plaintiff's original Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A federal district court has original jurisdiction of all civil actions “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”, i.e., federal-question jurisdiction, or “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”, i.e., diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331-1332.

         The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's determination that Plaintiffs' original Complaint should be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. As noted by the Magistrate Judge, Plaintiffs' original Complaint does not present a federal question. (ECF No. 11, 5.) Whether a claim presents a federal question is determined by looking to what appears in the plaintiff's statement of his own claim. Taylor v. Anderson, 234 U.S. 74, 75-76 (1914). Here, Plaintiffs' Complaint does not cite the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States but, rather, generally cites the ...

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