United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hampton, an inmate of the Federal Correctional Institution
Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, filed this pro se, in forma
pauperis action against Green Dot. (Doc. No. 1).
complaint is before the Court for an initial review pursuant
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.
PLRA Screening Standard
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any
portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis 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. Section 1915A similarly requires
initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity, ”
id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the
complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in §
1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).
court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, United
States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 739 (6th
Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007)), and accept the plaintiff's factual
allegations as true unless they are entirely without
credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437
(6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)). Although pro se
pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v.
Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts'
“duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se
complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded]
allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16,
19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).
complaint alleges that the Internal Revenue Service
(“IRS”) provides a “Quick Cash
Refund” service through Defendant Green Dot, a
financial company that issues tax refunds via charge cards.
(Doc. No. 1 at 2). According to the complaint, Plaintiff
requested that the IRS issue his federal income tax refund to
him by way of the Quick Cash Refund program. According to the
complaint, the amount of Plaintiff's federal income tax
refund was $3478.90. Green Dot mailed Plaintiff's charge
card to him while he was incarcerated. His charge card was
stolen out of his mailbox and cashed. Plaintiff notified
Green Dot, and the company assured him that he would be
reissued another card. Plaintiff has never received another
card. He repeatedly has contacted Green Dot's Dispute
Resolution Department but has not received any response.
Without Plaintiff's income tax refund, Plaintiff's
wife and children could not afford to pay the rent and had to
move out of their home.
federal courts of the United States are not courts of general
jurisdiction. Rather, they are empowered to hear only those
cases falling within the judicial power of the United States
as defined in the Constitution, or those matters specifically
committed to their authority by an act of Congress. Because
the issue of the court's subject-matter jurisdiction to
hear a case is a threshold issue, it may be reviewed by the
court at any time. See New Hampshire Co. v. Home Sav.
& Loan Co. of Youngstown, Ohio, 581 F.3d 420, 423
(6th Cir. 2009); Campanella v. Commerce Exch. Bank,
137 F.3d 885, 890 (6th Cir. 1998).
party invoking federal jurisdiction, Plaintiff bears the
burden of establishing that subject-matter jurisdiction
exists. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S.
555, 561 (1992); Lewis v. Whirlpool Corp., 630 F.3d
484, 487 (6th Cir. 2011). Rule 8(a)(1) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure requires that a complaint contain “a
short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction.” Typically, a plaintiff establishes a
federal court's subject-matter jurisdiction by
demonstrating that a right created by the Constitution or
laws of the United States is an essential element of the
claim, so that federal-question jurisdiction exists under 28
U.S.C. § 1331, or by demonstrating that the plaintiff
and the defendant are citizens of different states and that
the amount in controversy meets a requisite level, so that
diversity jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
instant action, even when the Court construes the complaint
liberally as required for pro se litigants, see Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Herron v.
Harrison, 203 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir. 2000), there are
no facts alleged showing that the Court has either diversity
or federal-question jurisdiction over this lawsuit. The
complaint alleges that this Court has jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (Doc. No. 1 at 2); however, the
complaint does not allege that a right created by the
Constitution or laws of the United States is an essential
element of Plaintiff's claim. Instead, the complaint
cites Tennessee state law in support of Plaintiff's
allegation that “Green Dot is trying to deny [his]
money in use of ‘The Bad Faith Statute.'”
(Id. at 3). And, because the complaint does not
allege the citizenship of Defendant, the Court cannot find
that diversity jurisdiction exists and, in any event,
Plaintiff seeks an award of $20, 000 in damages, which is an
insufficient amount in controversy for establishing diversity
Court is charged with the duty of assessing its own
jurisdiction and must sua sponte dismiss a case in which
subject-matter jurisdiction is lacking, see Nagalingam v.
Wilson, Sowards, Bowling & Costanzo, 8 Fed.Appx.
486, 487 (6th Cir. May 1, 2001), and Rule 12(h)(3) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the Court
“must dismiss” an action if the court determines
that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly,
because there is no basis in the complaint for the assertion
of subject-matter jurisdiction over this lawsuit, the action
must be dismissed.