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Dortch v. Peterson

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

April 27, 2018

KAREN DORTCH Plaintiff,
v.
DR. PETERSON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN R. ADAMS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Karen Dortch filed this action against Dr. Peterson, the Cleveland Clinic and Akron General Hospital. The handwritten Complaint is difficult to decipher. She states she went to the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital for an MRI scan of her brain. She mentions toxic fumes from natural gas, and indicates she was taken to the psychiatric floor. She contends she was not free to leave. She states Dr. Peterson found nothing and let her go. She does not specify the legal claims she intends to assert or the relief she seeks.

         Plaintiff filed an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. No. 2). That Application is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised on an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks “plausibility in the Complaint.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007).

         A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more than “an unadorned, the Defendant unlawfully harmed me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not meet this pleading standard. Id. In reviewing a Complaint, the Court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1998).

         II. Analysis

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and, unlike state trial courts, they do not have general jurisdiction to review all questions of law. See Ohio ex rel. Skaggs v. Brunner, 549 F.3d 468, 474 (6th Cir. 2008). Instead, they have only the authority to decide cases that the Constitution and Congress have empowered them to resolve. Id. Consequently, “[i]t is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377(1994) (internal citation omitted).

         Generally speaking, the Constitution and Congress have given federal courts authority to hear a case only when diversity of citizenship exists between the parties, or when the case raises a federal question. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). The first type of federal jurisdiction, diversity of citizenship, is applicable to cases of sufficient value between “citizens of different states.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). To establish diversity of citizenship, the Plaintiff must establish that he is a citizen of one state and all of the Defendants are citizens of other states. The citizenship of a natural person equates to his domicile. Von Dunser v. Aronoff, 915 F.2d 1071, 1072 (6th Cir.1990). The second type of federal jurisdiction relies on the presence of a federal question. This type of jurisdiction arises where a “well-pleaded Complaint establishes either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the Plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law.” Franchise Tax Bd. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983).

         Diversity of citizenship does not exist in this case. Plaintiff indicates she resides in Ohio. She names two Ohio hospitals and an Ohio physician. A Plaintiff in Federal Court has the burden of pleading sufficient facts to support the existence of the Court's jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. In a diversity action, the Plaintiff must state the citizenship of all parties so that the existence of complete diversity can be confirmed. Washington v. Sulzer Orthopedics, Inc., No. 03-3350, 2003 WL 22146143, at *1 (6th Cir. Sept. 16, 2003). Furthermore Plaintiff does not specify her damages so she fails to establish the amount in controversy. Federal subject matter jurisdiction cannot be based on diversity of citizenship.

         If federal jurisdiction exists in this case, it must be based on a claimed violation of federal law. Here, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and pro se Plaintiffs enjoy the benefit of a liberal construction of their pleadings and filings. Boswell v. Mayer, 169 F.3d 384, 387 (6th Cir. 1999). Indeed, this standard of liberal construction “requires active interpretation ... to construe a pro se petition ‘to encompass any allegation stating federal relief.'” Haines, 404 U.S. at 520. Even with that liberal construction, however, the Court is unable to identify a federal claim on the face of the Complaint and Plaintiff does not reference a federal cause of action. Jurisdiction cannot be based on the presence of a federal question.

         IV. Conclusion

         Accordingly, Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. No. 2) is granted, and this action is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e). The Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § ...


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