United States District Court, E.D. New York
ALICIA CLARKES, SAMANTHA CLARKES, HOLLY YOUNG, PAULA ROSS, CASSONDRA CHURCH, JAMAL SMART, SUSAN MURPHY, JUANITA CLARKES, JOYCE HOLLEY, CLAUDIA MCDONALD, Plaintiffs,
MICHAEL G. HUGHES, d/b/a attorney, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
M. AZRACK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 21, 2017, pro se plaintiffs Alicia Clarkes,
Samantha Clarkes, Holly Young, Paula Ross, Cassondra Church,
Jamal Smart, Susan Murphy, Juanita Clarkes, Joyce Holley, and
Claudia McDonald (collectively, “plaintiffs”)
filed a complaint in this Court against Michael G. Hughes,
d/b/a attorney (“Hughes” or
“defendant”). Plaintiffs paid the Court's
filing fee. Because the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction to adjudicate plaintiffs' claims for the
reasons that follow, the complaint is sua sponte
dismissed without prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
have checked both boxes on the form complaint to allege that
the basis for this Court's subject matter jurisdiction is
federal question and diversity. (See Compl. ¶
II. A.) In the space on the form complaint that calls for the
federal Constitutional, statutory or treaty right is at
issue, plaintiffs allege “Amendments I, IV, V, VI,
VIII, IX, XIII, XIV United States Constitution - see annexed
for other applicable laws.” (Id. ¶ II.
B.) Annexed to the form complaint is an additional one
hundred and eighteen (118) pages of exhibits. Therein,
plaintiffs claim violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity
Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1691 et seq.,
(“ECOA”), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,
15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq.
(“FDCPA”), and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15
U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
(“FCRA”), in addition to various state statutes.
(Id. at 6, 8-9.) In the space on the form complaint
that calls for the state of citizenship of each
party, plaintiffs allege that they are citizens of the United
States and that the defendant is “American.”
(Id. ¶ II. C.) However, plaintiffs have each
indicated that they reside in Suffolk County, New York and
that the defendant is an attorney licensed to practice law in
the State of New York with offices located in Greenlawn, New
York. (See Exhibit A annexed to the Complaint at
submission is a rambling, disjointed mix of conclusory
allegations and is difficult to comprehend. At best, it
appears that plaintiffs seek to challenge the legal
representation provided by defendant to a family member,
Kingsly O. McDonald (“K. McDonald”).
(Id.) Plaintiffs allege that they are the
“significant others” of K. McDonald who allegedly
paid defendant $3, 500.00 to represent him in an underlying
immigration case. (Id.) Plaintiffs' claim that
defendant did not renew his bar registration and was
therefore ineligible to represent K. McDonald. Accordingly,
plaintiffs seek an order declaring that defendant
“violated the Petition for Pre Trial Motions and failed
to notify plaintiffs that he had not renewed his registration
at the United States Bar Association” as well as
compensatory damages in a sum no less than $1, 800, 000.00
($1.8 million) and an unspecified sum of punitive damages.
(Id. at 15.)
Standard of Review
se submissions are afforded wide interpretational
latitude and should be held “to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per
curiam); see also Boddie v. Schnieder, 105 F.3d
857, 860 (2d Cir. 1997). In addition, the court is required
to read the plaintiff's pro se complaint
liberally and interpret it as raising the strongest arguments
it suggests. United States v. Akinrosotu, 637 F.3d
165, 167 (2d Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation
omitted); Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir.
Supreme Court has held that pro se complaints need
not even plead specific facts; rather, the complainant
“need only give the defendant fair notice of what the .
. . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted); cf.Fed. R.
Civ. P. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so as to do
justice.”). However, a pro se plaintiff must
still plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A 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 (2009)
(citations omitted). The plausibility standard requires
“more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Id. at 678. 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. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
a district court has the inherent power to dismiss a case,
sua sponte, if it determines that the action is
frivolous or the court lacks jurisdiction over the matter
regardless of whether a plaintiff has paid the filing fee.
Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp.,
221 F.3d 362, 363-364 (2d Cir. 2000) (per curiam);
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
the liberal pleading standard afforded pro se
litigants, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction
and may not preside over cases if subject matter jurisdiction
is lacking. Lyndonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v.
Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 700-01 (2d Cir. 2000). Unlike
lack of personal jurisdiction, lack of subject matter
jurisdiction cannot be waived and may be raised at any time
by a party or by the Court sua sponte. Id.
“If subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the action
must be dismissed.” Id. at 700-01; see
also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). The party asserting
jurisdiction bears the burden of proof. DiTolla v. Doral
Dental IPA of N.Y., 469 F.3d 271, 275 (2d Cir. 2006).
plaintiffs seek to invoke this Court's subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
1332. Section 1331 provides that “district courts shall
have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under
the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United
States.” Section 1332 provides that federal court
subject matter jurisdiction may be established where ...