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Shamar Enoch Amaru XI ALI v. United States Social Security Administration

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

May 14, 2018

SHAMAR ENOCH AMARU XI ALI, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION and MARK KEETON, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          ALETA A. TRAUGER United States District Judge

         Plaintiff 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.

         I. Application to Proceed Without Prepaying Fees or Costs

         The 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).

         II. Review of Complaint

         A. Standard of Review

         By law, 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).

         Thus, 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).

         B. Factual Allegations and Procedural Background

         The 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.

         The 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.

         C. Discussion

         As an 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.

         The 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 ...


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