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Wray v. Health & Hospital Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

June 6, 2017




         Plaintiff Albertha Wray, proceeding pro se, brings this action against her former employer, Defendant Health & Hospital Corporation, alleging that she was removed from her employment without cause. (Compl. (Dkt. 2).) Plaintiff filed a request to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). The court GRANTS Plaintiffs motion to appear IFP for purposes of this Order. However, for the following reasons, the court DISMISSES Plaintiffs Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this action on May 19, 2017, in the Southern District of New York. (Compl.) Plaintiff alleges that her employment with Defendant was terminated on December 19, 2011, following an unsatisfactory evaluation. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff asserts that she worked for Defendant for seven years prior to her dismissal and that her performance during that period was satisfactory. (Id.) She also states that she was an "active union member of... [the] Communications Workers Association]." (Id.) According to Plaintiff, she has been unable to obtain other employment since Defendant terminated her, which she asserts resulted from a "block put against her name." (Id.) Plaintiff avers that her removal and subsequent unemployment have "caused [] economic hardship" and that her "situation is deteriorating." Qd at 5-6.)

         In her Complaint, Plaintiff also describes an apparently separate incident, claiming that that she was "brought to the hospital against [her] will" in August 2015 and January 2016 and administered painkillers and blood tliinning drugs. (Id. at 6.) It is unclear whether Plaintiffs allusion to the "hospital" refers to Defendant or another entity.[1]


         A. Legal Standard

         1. The Complaint

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), the court may waive the filing fees normally required of a party upon finding a plaintiff indigent. However, that statute also requires the court to dismiss the case if, on review, it determines that the complaint is "frivolous or malicious, " "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, " or "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from relief." Id. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).

         Under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain a "short and plain" statement of the basis for the court's jurisdiction and the claim, showing the pleading party's entitlement to relief, as well as a demand for the type of relief sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Under this requirement, a complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twomblv, 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) (internal quotation marks omitted). At the pleadings stage of the proceeding, a court must assume the truth of "all nonconclusory factual allegations" contained in the complaint. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.. 621 F.3d 111, 123 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing IqbaL 556 677).

         "A document filed prose is to be liberally construed, and a prose complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus. 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Submissions by prose litigants must be "interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest." Trestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons. 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006).

         2. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         In addition to the considerations listed under the IFP statute, if the court "determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, [it] must dismiss the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may not preside over cases if they lack subject matter jurisdiction. Lvndonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v. Lussier. 211 F.3d 697, 700-01 (2d Cir. 2000). The primary statutory grants for federal subject matter jurisdiction are those contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which provides for "federal question" jurisdiction, and 28 U.S.C. § 1332, which provides for jurisdiction based on "diversity of citizenship." A plaintiff properly invokes federal question jurisdiction when she pleads a colorable claim "arising under" the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. She properly invokes diversity jurisdiction when she presents a claim between parties of diverse citizenship that exceeds the required jurisdictional amount, currently $75, 000. See Id. § 1332(a); Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp.. 546 U.S. 500, 513 (2006) (citing Bell v. Hood. 327 U.S. 678, 681-85 (1946)).

         B. ...

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