United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DONNELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
December 2, 2019, pro se plaintiff LaQuan D. Harris
brought this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (ECF No.
He claims that the defendants did not properly notarize a
promissory note. (Id. at 4-5.) The plaintiffs
request to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is
granted solely for the purposes of this order. For the
reasons that follow, the complaint is dismissed. The
plaintiff is granted 30 days leave from the entry of this
order to file an amended complaint.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a district court must dismiss
an in forma pauperis action when 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." A district court has the inherent power to
dismiss a case sua sponte if it determines that the
action is frivolous. See Fitzgerald v. First East Seventh
Street Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363-64 (2d Cir.
pro se pleadings are held "to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,"
Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980), a complaint
must nevertheless 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 pro se plaintiff must also "still comply with
the relevant rules of procedural and substantive law,
including establishing that the court has subject matter
jurisdiction over the action." Ally v. Sukkar,
128 Fed.Appx. 194, 195 (2d Cir. 2005). If subject matter
jurisdiction is absent, the district court must dismiss the
complaint regardless of the merits of the underlying action.
See Nowak v. Ironworkers Local 6 Pension Fund, 81
F.3d 1182, 1188 (2d Cir. 1996); see also Arbaugh v. Y
& H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006).
Fraser is the manager of a local branch of TD Bank located on
Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) The plaintiff
seems to allege that the defendants "failed to follow
protocol" when the plaintiff tried to have the bank
notarize a promissory note worth six million dollars. The
plaintiff claims he planned to use this promissory note to
buy a house. (Id. at 6.) The plaintiff states that
the defendants owe him six million dollars. (Id.)
courts do not have jurisdiction over every kind of case.
Federal jurisdiction exists only where the action presents a
federal question, or where the parties are of diverse
citizenship-meaning that they are citizens of different
states-and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331-32. "The party
invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
establishing that jurisdiction exists." Conyers v.
Rossides, 558 F.3d 137, 143 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561
(1992)). To assert federal question jurisdiction-as the
plaintiff has alleged here-the pleadings must set forth
"a colorable claim 'arising under' the
Constitution or laws of the United States." Arbaugh
v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 513 (2006).
plaintiff brings this action under the Court's federal
question jurisdiction, but his complaint does not raise any
colorable claim with a basis in federal law. See
Beneficial Nat'l Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S.
1, 12 (2003) (the "well-pleaded-complaint rule"
provides that "federal jurisdiction exists only when a
federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiffs
properly pleaded complaint.") (citation omitted). The
complaint alleges that the defendants failed to follow
protocol in notarizing a promissory note for plaintiff. (ECF
No. 1 at 6). Even reading the pro se complaint
liberally, the complaint does not raise a federal question
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
plaintiff does not invoke diversity jurisdiction and there is
no allegation that the parties are of diverse citizenship.
Additionally, "[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. Nat'l Bank and
Trust Co. of Chicago, 93 F.3d 1064, 1070 (2d Cir. 1996)
(quoting Tongkook Am., Inc. v. Shipton Sportswear
Co., 14 F.3d 781, 784 (2d Cir. 1994)). Despite the
plaintiffs claim that he is entitled to $6 million in
damages, he fails to plead any plausible facts that suggest a
'reasonable probability' that he can recover that
amount in this action to meet the statutory jurisdictional
requirement. See Id. at 1070 (holding that a
plaintiff must also show that amount-in-controversy is
nonspeculative in order to satisfy the statutory
requirement). As a result, even under the most liberal
construction, the plaintiff has not presented a valid basis
for federal jurisdiction over his claims.
the complaint does not describe the basis for the plaintiffs
federal cause of action against the named defendants, or the
defendants' direct involvement in the allegations set
forth in the complaint. Thus, the complaint also fails to
satisfy the requirements set out in Rule 8, which requires a
plaintiff to provide a short, plain statement of his claim
against each defendant. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (Rule 8 "demands more than an
accusation."). A court may dismiss a complaint that is
"so confused, ambiguous, vague or otherwise
unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well
disguised." Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40,
42 (2d Cir. 1988). A pleading that only "tenders naked
assertions devoid of further factual enhancement" will
not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal
citations and alterations omitted). A plaintiff must provide
enough facts to allow the defendant to understand what the
plaintiff is complaining about and whether there is a legal
basis for recovery. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
the complaint is dismissed without prejudice for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). The Court
is reluctant to allow the plaintiff an opportunity to file an
amended complaint because this is the sixth complaint the
plaintiff has filed in this Court, and the second one against
employees of a local bank branch. Four of the plaintiffs
prior cases have been dismissed sua sponte and one
has been transferred to another court.
out of an abundance of caution, the plaintiff is granted 30
days from the entry of this order to file an amended
complaint. See Cruz v. Gomez,202 F.3d 593 (2d Cir.
2000). All proceedings are stayed for thirty days or until
further order of the Court. If the plaintiff chooses to file
an amended complaint, the complaint must comply with Rule
8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by stating the
basis for federal jurisdiction and the factual allegations
supporting the plaintiffs claims against each defendant. The
amended complaint must be captioned "Amended
Complaint" and bear the same docket number as this
order. If the plaintiff fails to comply with this order
within the time allowed or cure the deficiencies discussed
herein, judgment will enter. I also caution the plaintiff
that "[i]f a litigant has a history of filing vexatious,