United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
N. VITALIANO United States District Judge
November 4, 2016, pro se plaintiff Kamala Prasai
filed this action against the International Nepali Literary
Society ("INLS") and three of its officers.
Plaintiffs meandering complaint is best read to allege
diversity jurisdiction and to assert state law claims for
intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud that
resulted from events surrounding INLS's 2016 executive
board elections. On these pleadings, plaintiffs application
to proceed in forma pauperis is granted for the
limited purpose of this Order; however, the complaint is
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
complaint alleges that members of the INLS election
commission falsified the results of a board election in order
to deprive Prasai of a seat on INLS's executive board for
the 2016-2018 term. More specifically, she alleges that
certain voters were "unverified" - a term that
remains undefined - in the October 2016 election, and that
some voters voted twice. Dkt. No. 1 ("Compl.") at
3, 5-6.Plaintiff further alleges that members of
the INLS board are biased against her, are attempting to
force her out of the organization, and that defendants'
actions constitute intentional infliction of emotional
distress. Id. at 3-6. Prasai seeks $100, 000 in
compensatory damages and an injunction ordering the INLS to
recount the ballots, omitting the unverified voters.
Id. at 6-7.
completeness of history, it must be noted that plaintiff
previously filed two mirror image complaints on July 21, 2014
and September 25, 2014, in which she contested a previous
election of the INLS. Those cases were dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See Prasai v. Int'l
Nepali Literary Soc 'y, et al., No. 14-CV-4440, 2014
WL 4207628 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 2014); Prasai v. Int'l
Nepali Literary Soc'y, et al., No. 14-CV-5696
(E.D.N.Y. Nov. 14, 2014) (dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, with leave to amend).
action complaint must provide "a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A court, in any case,
must dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint if it
"(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). To survive
dismissal at the doorstep of the courthouse, a complaint must
plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." BellAtl Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167
L.Ed.2d 929, 949 (2007).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678,
129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868, 884 (2009). While
"detailed factual allegations" are not required,
"[a] pleading that offers 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do." Id.
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Similarly, a
complaint is insufficient to state a claim "if it
tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of' further
factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (alteration in original) (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 557).
it must also be kept in mind that when a plaintiff proceeds
without legal representation, as Prasai does, a court must
regard plaintiffs complaint in a more liberal light,
affording the pleadings of a pro se litigant the
strongest interpretation possible. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 121 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167
L.Ed.2d 1081, 1086 (2007); Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 472 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam).
A pro se complaint should not be dismissed without
granting a pro se plaintiff leave to amend "at
least once when a liberal reading of the complaint gives any
indication that a valid claim might be stated."
Gomez v. USAA Fed. Sav. Bank, 171 F.3d 794, 795 (2d
Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (citation omitted).
must dismiss a case sua sponte when it finds subject
matter jurisdiction lacking. See Endicott Johnson Corp.
v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 53, 58 (2d Cir.
1997). It is well settled that 28 U.S.C. § 1332
"requires complete diversity between all plaintiffs and
all defendants, " Gushing v. Moore, 970 F.2d
1103, 1106 (2d Cir. 1992). Moreover, to invoke diversity
jurisdiction, the amount in controversy must exceed the sum
or value of $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. "[A] party
invoking the jurisdiction of the federal court has the burden
of proving that it appears to a 'reasonable
probability' that the claim is in excess of the statutory
jurisdictional amount." Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A.
v. Am. Natl Bank and Trust Co. of Chicago, 93 F.3d 1064,
1070 (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted); see also
TongkookAm., Inc. v. Shipton Sportswear Co., 14 F.3d
781, 784 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Deutsch v. Hewes St.
Realty Corp., 359 F.2d 96, 98 (2d Cir. 1966)).
new action, Prasai asserts state law claims and relies on
diversity of citizenship as the sole basis for federal
subject matter jurisdiction. To that end, she asserts that
the citizenship of the parties is diverse, as she lives in
New York state and the defendants are alleged to live in
Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado. Compl. at 1. To the extent
the complaint seeks injunctive relief that would oust any
individual from a position won at the election she seeks to
challenge, those individuals would be indispensable parties,
would need to be named as defendants, and their state
citizenship would count for diversity purposes. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 19; Universal Reinsurance Co. v. St. Paul
Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 312 F.3d 82, 87 (2d Cir.
2002) ("Rule 19(b) commands a district court to dismiss
an action where it is impossible to have the participation of
an indispensable party."); Bartfield v. Murphy,
578 F.Supp.2d 638, 650 (S.D.N.Y. 2008). Plaintiff, however,
fails to meet the jurisdictional amount requirement. She
seeks $100, 000 in compensation, but she has not factually
specified any harm or losses. Compl. at 7. At most, she
states that she feels pressured and "tortured" by
the defendants' bias against her. Id. at 5. On
these pleadings, the Court is not satisfied at all that it is
reasonably probable that she can recover an amount in excess
of the jurisdictional amount of $75, 000 in this action.
aware that the Second Circuit has cautioned that before
determining that the amount in controversy requirement has
not been met, courts should afford plaintiffs like Prasai an
opportunity to show good faith in believing that a recovery
in excess of the jurisdictional amount is possible, the
Court, though dismissing the complaint ...