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Melancon v. Weitzel

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

July 7, 2019

SHERRY J. MELANCON and CARLYLE J. MELANCON, Plaintiffs,
v.
KENNETH WEITZEL, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         This case comes before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and the Rules of this Court for consideration of Defendant Weitzel's Motion and Application To Proceed In Forma Pauperis, which has been filed in the above case on May 30, 2019 [Doc. 2] and the Defendant Weitzel's Notice of Removal [Doc. 1] also filed on May 30, 2019. The undersigned files this Report and Recommendation for the District Judge to whom this case is assigned. For the reasons more fully stated below, the Court finds that the Defendant should be allowed to file his Notice of Removal without prepayment of costs, but the Court RECOMMENDS that the Notice of Removal be DISMISSED for jurisdictional deficiencies and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), and that the case be remanded to state court.

         I. FILINGS AND ALLEGATIONS

         The Defendant has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis, with the required detailing of his financial condition. The application demonstrates that the Defendant has little income and few assets.

         In his Notice of Removal, the Defendant alleges that the Plaintiffs filed a Detainer action against him in Loudon County General Sessions Court to recover possession of real property allegedly owned by Plaintiffs but occupied by Defendant. Defendant claims that no landlord/tenant relationship exists between Plaintiffs and himself.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Jurisdiction

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Congress has conferred upon this Court, and other federal courts, the jurisdiction to hear only two types of civil cases: those arising under the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and those cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 and the parties are diverse, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         The underlying state court action is a Detainer for possession of real property. This is a state law claim. Moreover, any argument in support of diversity jurisdiction is defeated by the fact that the Plaintiffs and Defendant reside in Tennessee. [Doc. 1-1].

         Thus, the Court finds the Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate any grounds for federal jurisdiction in this case.

         B. Indigency and Failure to State a Claim

         In addition to federal jurisdiction standards, applications to proceed in forma pauperis are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The purpose of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is to ensure that indigent litigants have meaningful access to the courts. Adkins v. W.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342 (1948); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989). To accomplish this end, a court must evaluate the litigant's indigence, but notwithstanding indigence, a court may sua sponte dismiss a matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 if the litigation is frivolous and malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         The Court will address the indigence and merits components of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 in turn.

         1. Indigence

         Section 1915 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 (1992). The 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. An affidavit to ...


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