United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE,
CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND
NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF APPELLATE FILING FEE
D. TODD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 4, 2019, Plaintiff Eric Glenn Franklin, who is
incarcerated at the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex
(CJC) in Jackson, Tennessee, filed a pro se civil
complaint against Nathan Pride, an attorney. (ECF No. 1.) The
complaint was accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. (ECF No. 2.) The Court issued an order on
October 7, 2019, granting leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.)
alleges in the complaint that Defendant Pride was hired to
represent him in a civil matter involving real property
Franklin inherited from his mother. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.)
He alleges that during the course of the representation,
Pride “took it upon himself to forge another Deed
without doing his research and realizing that the property
was still in the original owners [sic] name.”
(Id.) When confronted, Pride allegedly said there
was nothing he could do, which resulted in Franklin and his
daughter losing their home. (Id.) He seeks
compensatory damages. (Id. at PageID 3.)
Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to
dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim
on which relief may be granted, the standards under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007),
are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71
(6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the complaint's
“well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and
then determines whether the allegations “plausibly
suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v.
Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations
“are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ”
and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual
allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although
a complaint need only contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless
requires factual allegations to make a
“‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion,
of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 n.3.
se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and
should therefore be liberally construed.”
Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v.
Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro
se litigants, however, are not exempt from the
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989);
see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612,
613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro
se complaint for failure to comply with “unique
pleading requirements” and stating “a court
cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not
spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v.
Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169
(6th Cir. 1975))).
Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over Franklin's
claims. The United States Supreme Court has stated:
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They
possess only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree. It
is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited
jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary
rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375,
377 (1994) (citations omitted); see also Bender v.
Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986)
(“Federal courts are not courts of general
jurisdiction; they have only the power that is authorized by
Article III of the Constitution and the statutes enacted by
Congress pursuant thereto.”) A federal court may
address its subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte.
See, e.g., Ins. Corp. of Ireland, Ltd., 456 U.S.
694. 702 (1982) (“a court, including an appellate
court, will raise lack of subject-matter jurisdiction on its
own motion”). Furthermore, under Rule 12(h)(3) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[i]f the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”
complaint does not state any basis for federal subject-matter
jurisdiction in this case. Though he filed the complaint on
the form used for commencing actions under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, there is no allegation that the action arises
“under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States, ” as required for federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Franklin does not
allege that Pride violated his civil rights or that he acted
under color of state law. He contends only that Pride
mishandled the legal matter for which he was hired, causing
Franklin and his daughter to lose their home. This is a claim
of legal malpractice arising under Tennessee law.
complaint also does not allege that Franklin and Pride are
citizens of different states, as required for diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Therefore, the
Court has no ...