The opinion of the court was delivered by: Norman A. Mordue, District Judge
Presently before the Court is a complaint filed by pro se plaintiff Tonya R. Dakari.*fn1 This action, which was originally filed in the United State District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, was transferred to this District by Order of District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Dkt. No. 3. Plaintiff has not paid any fee relating to this action, and seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Dkt. No. 2.
In her complaint, plaintiff asserts claims arising out the ownership of an automobile which plaintiff appears to have financed through defendant Navy Federal Credit Union (the "Credit Union").*fn2
Plaintiff claims that the Credit Union has improperly refused to release the certificate of title for the vehicle. Dkt. No. 1 at 1-3.
By way of background, plaintiff was the debtor in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding in the Northern District. See Dakari v. Navy Federal Credit Union, 5:04-CV-0452 (NAM) (Appeal from Bankruptcy Court). On September 29, 2003, plaintiff commenced an adversary proceeding against the Credit Union claiming that the certificate of title to the vehicle is in her son's name, and the Credit Union therefore did not have a perfected security interest in the vehicle. See id. at Dkt. No. 16 at 1-2 (Memorandum Decision and Order of District Judge Norman A. Mordue filed May 9, 2005). Plaintiff's Chapter 13 proceeding was dismissed by Bankruptcy Court on March 11, 2004 due to plaintiff's failure to comply with prior orders in that proceeding and, shortly thereafter, Bankruptcy Court dismissed the adversary proceeding. See id., Dkt. No. 16 at 2-3.
Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of the adversary proceeding to this Court. By Memorandum-Decision and Order filed May 9, 2005, Bankruptcy Court's dismissal of the adversary proceeding was affirmed. See id., Dkt. No. 16 at 4. Plaintiff's appeal of that decision was dismissed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. See id., Dkt. No. 21.
While the Bankruptcy Appeal was pending, plaintiff commenced another action in this Court by which she claimed that the Credit Union had engaged in debt collection practices in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq. Dakari v. Navy Federal Credit Union, 3:04-CV-0984 (TJM/DEP). By Order of Senior District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy filed October 14, 2004, the action was dismissed for failure to state a claim because the Credit Union was not a "debt collector" as defined in the statute. Id., Dkt. No. 3.
This action followed. As noted, plaintiff filed the complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the Credit Union is located, and where the security agreement appears to have been made. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that while she signed the security agreement, the Credit Union did not obtain a perfected security interest in the vehicle because the certificate of title was issued in her son's name.
In this case, where plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court must determine whether plaintiff has demonstrated sufficient economic need and must also consider the sufficiency of the complaint in light of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).*fn4 Section 1915(e) directs that when a plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court:
(2) [S]hall dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that -***
(B) the action ... (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Thus, even if a plaintiff meets the financial criteria to commence an action in forma pauperis, it is the Court's responsibility to determine that a complaint may properly be maintained in the District before it may permit the plaintiff to proceed with his or her action in forma pauperis. Id.
The subject matter jurisdiction of the federal district courts is limited and is set forth generally in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. Under these statutes, federal jurisdiction is available only when a federal question is presented or when the parties are of diverse citizenship and the amount in question exceeds $75,000. It is well established that the Court may raise the question of jurisdiction sua sponte, and that where jurisdiction is lacking, "dismissal is mandatory." United Food & Commercial Workers Union, ...