United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
A. TRAUGER United States District Judge
Shamar Enoch Amaru Xi Ali has filed a pro se civil
rights Complaint in this court, asserting a violation of his
constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on
the Social Security Administration's refusal to recognize
his name change. (Compl., Doc. No. 1.) Also pending in this
court is the plaintiff's Application to Proceed in
District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs. (Doc. No. 2.)
As set forth below, the court will grant the Application to
file the case as a pauper but dismiss the Complaint for
failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted.
Application to Proceed Without Prepaying Fees or
plaintiff alleges that he is employed, earning the gross
amount of $2, 513 per month and $30, 160 per year, which is
approximately double the federal poverty level for 2018 for a
household of two people. However, the plaintiff also alleges
that he has expenses totaling close to what the court
presumes the net amount of the plaintiff's paycheck to
be, that he has no savings or bank account, and that he has
one dependent child. Based on these factors, the court will
grant the Application to Proceed Without Prepaying Fees or
Costs (Doc. No. 2).
Review of Complaint
Standard of Review
the court must conduct an initial review of any civil
complaint filed in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Upon conducting this review, the court must
dismiss the complaint, or any portion thereof, that fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous,
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. Id. The Sixth Circuit has confirmed
that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court
in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007),
“governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under
[that statute] because the relevant statutory language tracks
the language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010).
in reviewing the complaint to determine whether it states a
plausible claim, “a district court must (1) view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
(2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.”
Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561F.3d
478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v.
Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted)). The court must then consider whether those factual
allegations, accepted as true, “plausibly suggest an
entitlement to relief.'” Williams v.
Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). A pro se pleading
must be liberally construed and “held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
However, the assumption of truth does not extend to
allegations that consist of legal conclusions or
“‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557).
Factual Allegations and Procedural Background
Complaint is short on factual allegations and long on
statements of law and assertions of rights. Factually, the
plaintiff alleges only that he is an Indigenous American and,
as such, has the “right to assume the cultural . . .
surnames of [his] ancestors.” (Doc. No. 1, Compl.
¶ 5.) The plaintiff effected a “common law Name
Change, ” changing his name from LaDuntae Xi to Shamar
Enoch Amaru Xi Ali. (Compl., Remedy Demand.) He apparently
obtained a Tribal Court Order Name Change. (Id.
¶ 3.) He submitted a copy of that Tribal Court Order in
support of his application to the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) to change his name on his
Social Security card and in the SSA's records. The SSA
denied his request to recognize his name change, on the basis
that the “Tribal Court Order Name Change was not issued
by a Federally recognized U.S. Indian Tribe.”
(Id.) On March 2, 2018, the plaintiff sent the SSA
an “Affidavit & Notice of Right to Common Law Name
Change [and] Notice by Affidavit to Cease &
Desist.” (Id. ¶ 2.) The SSA ignored this
demand and has continued to refuse to recognize the
plaintiff's name change.
plaintiff thereafter filed this lawsuit, naming as defendants
the United States Social Security Administration and Mark
Keeton. Mark Keeton is not identified or mentioned anywhere
in the Complaint other than in the case caption. The
plaintiff purports to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, asserting that the SSA's refusal to recognize and
implement his name change violates his rights under the Ninth
and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and
constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of the
plaintiff's national origin. He demands monetary damages
in the amount of $30, 000 to compensate him for mental and
emotional harm. He also seeks equitable relief in the form of
an injunction requiring the SSA to accept his name change for
all purposes and to issue a new Social Security card
reflecting his name change.
initial matter, the court notes that the Complaint utterly
fails to allege any facts concerning defendant Mark Keeton.
Notably, the Complaint does not indicate whether Keeton is an
official employed by the SSA or whether he was personally
involved in the refusal to recognize the plaintiff's name
change. The court therefore finds that the Complaint fails to
state a claim against that defendant under any theory of
recovery. The claims against Mark Keeton are subject to
dismissal for failure to state a claim for which relief may
be granted against him.
only other defendant named is the Social Security
Administration, an agency of the United States. As sovereign,
the United States is entitled to absolute immunity from suit
for damages or injunctive relief except insofar as it has
consented to such suit. United States v. Mitchell,
463 U.S. 206, 212-13 (1983). The United States has not
consented to suit under the federal civil rights statutes.
Selden Apartments v. U.S. Dep't of Hous. & Urban
Dev., 785 F.2d 152, 158 (6th Cir. 1986) (citing
Unimex, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Housing, 594 F.2d