United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
WILLIE ROBERT WEATHERLY and CALVIN EDWARD WEATHERLY Plaintiffs,
JANICE HILTON and WARREN M. HILTON Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CLIFTON L. CORKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Willie Weatherly and Calvin Weatherly have filed Motions
[Docs. 1 and 2] to proceed in forma pauperis. The
Motions are before the United States Magistrate Judge
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, and the standing orders of
this Court. Defendants are representing themselves in this
action. For the reasons stated herein, the undersigned
RECOMMENDS that the District Court DISMISS this complaint for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs in forma pauperis motions [Docs. 1 and
purpose of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is to ensure that indigent
litigants have meaningful access to the courts. Adkins v.
E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342, 69
S.Ct. 85 (1948); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
324, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989). The statute therefore allows a
litigant to commence a civil or criminal action in federal
court without paying the administrative costs of the lawsuit.
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 27, 112 S.Ct. 1728
Court's review of an in forma pauperis
application is normally based solely on the affidavit of
indigence. See Gibson v. R.G. Smith Co., 915 F.2d
260, 262-63 (6th Cir. 1990). The threshold requirement which
must be met in order to proceed in forma pauperis is
that the petitioner show, by affidavit, the inability to pay
court fees and costs. 28 U.S.C. §1915(a). However, one
need not be absolutely destitute to enjoy the benefit of
proceeding in forma pauperis. Adkins, 335
U.S. at 342, 69 S.Ct. at 90. An affidavit to proceed in
forma pauperis is sufficient if its states that the
petitioner cannot, because of poverty, afford to pay for the
costs of litigation and still pay for the necessities of
life. Id. at 339, 69 S.Ct. at 89. The decision to
grant or deny such an application lies within the sound
discretion of the Court. Phipps v. King, 866 F.2d
824, 825 (6th Cir. 1988).
present case, the petitioners' Application to Proceed
Without Prepayment of Fees and petitioners' economic
status have been considered in making the decision of whether
to grant leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The
application sets forth grounds for so proceeding. The
Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees [Docs. 1
and 2], therefore, is GRANTED. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to file the complaint without
prepayment of costs or fees. Gibson, 915 F.2d at
262-63; see Harris v. Johnson, 784 F.2d 222 (6th
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii), the district
court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous or if it fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See also
Neitzke, 490 U.S. 319, 109 S.Ct. 1827. District courts
must screen complaints filed in forma pauperis and
sua sponte must dismiss a complaint that is
frivolous or malicious, that fails to state a claim for
relief, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who
enjoys immunity from such relief. See, e.g., 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Begola v. Brown, No.
97-2194, 1998 WL 894722, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 14, 1998)
(citing McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604
(6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007), and LaFountain
v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013)). The
dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and in
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007)
“governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)] 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, to survive an initial screening, a complaint
“must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
liberally construe pro se pleadings filed in civil
rights cases and hold them to a less stringent standard than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Allegations that give
rise to a mere possibility that a plaintiff might later
establish undisclosed facts supporting recovery, however, are
not well-pled and do not state a plausible claim.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. Further, formulaic
and conclusory recitations of the elements of a claim
unsupported by facts are insufficient to state a plausible
claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681.
filed this complaint on October 2, 2018, alleging that they
rented a mobile home from Defendant Janice Hilton and the
conditions of the home were inhabitable [Doc. 3, pg. 3-4]. As
examples, Plaintiffs point to no heat or air [Id. at
pg. 5], windows that will not close [Id.], a
collapsing ceiling [Id. at pg. 6], raw sewage
backing up into the home [Id.], an infestation of
rats, cockroaches, and bed bugs [Id. at pg. 7-8],
and a leaky roof [Id. at pg. 8]. Plaintiffs also
allege that Defendants allowed and participated in illegal
activity on the rental property [Id. at pg. 4].
Plaintiffs allege that they requested in writing Defendant
Janice Hilton address the problems in the home and that
certain repairs be made. After making that request, they
received a notice of eviction from Defendant Warren Hilton,
stating that he was now the owner of the property
[Id. at pg. 9]. Plaintiffs aver that neither
Defendant is the proper owner of the property, and that they
had no right to collect rent all this time [Id. at
pg. 9, 11]. Plaintiffs also claim that Defendant Warren
Hilton threatened them [Id. at pg. 9-10]. Finally,
Plaintiffs seek a health inspection of the property at issue,
a jury trial and a total of $150, 000 in actual and punitive
damages [Id. at pg. 13].
Law and Analysis
have not established a basis for federal court jurisdiction.
This Court lacks jurisdiction to address Plaintiffs claims.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and, unlike
state trial courts, they do not have general jurisdiction to
review all questions of law. See Ohio ex rel. Skaggs v.
Brunner, 549 F.3d 468, 474 (6th Cir. 2008). Instead,
they have only the authority to decide cases that the
Constitution and Congress have empowered them to resolve.
Id. Generally, the Constitution and Congress have
given federal courts authority to hear a case only when
diversity of citizenship exists between the parties, or when
the case raises a federal question. Caterpillar Inc. v.
Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). The first type of
federal jurisdiction, diversity of citizenship, is applicable
to cases of sufficient value between “citizens of
different states.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). To
establish diversity of citizenship, the Plaintiffs must
establish that they are citizens of one state and all of the
Defendants are citizens of other states. Von Dunser v.
Aronoff, 915 F.2d 1071, 1072 (6th Cir.1990). The second
type of federal jurisdiction relies on the presence of a
federal question. This type of jurisdiction ...