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Queen v. Braun

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

May 18, 2018

CHAD BRAUN, et al., Defendants.



         Pro se Plaintiff William Ray Queen filed the above-captioned action against Ohio Adult Parole Authority (“OAPA”) Parole Officer Chad Braun, and OAPA Supervisor Mr. Edwards. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he fears his parole officer. He does not identify legal claims. The only relief he seeks is “help and understand[ing] of safety and help.” (ECF No. 1 at 6).

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff indicates he is currently incarcerated in the Lorain Correctional Institution. He states that prior to his incarceration, his parole officer was Chad Braun. He claims he fears Braun because in 2016, Braun threatened him with a gun and told him all sex offenders should die. He contends he complained to the OAPA about Braun from May 2016 until October 2017 but the OAPA did not assign another parole officer to his case.

         Plaintiff alleges that Braun placed him in a hotel in Wadsworth, Ohio because he had nowhere else to go. Plaintiff then sent his girlfriend a picture of him holding a BB gun to his head. His girlfriend telephoned Wadsworth police who took Plaintiff to the North Coast Behavioral Center for mental health treatment. He states Braun obtained the picture. Although his girlfriend informed Braun she was in possession of the BB gun, Braun pursued revocation of his supervised release. He also admits to sending threatening letters to Braun so that Braun would have a conflict of interest and be forced to withdraw as his parole officer. Braun, however, did not withdraw. He states he appealed to Braun's supervisor, Edwards, but Edwards also did not reassign Braun. He indicates he wants this Court to conduct a fact-finding hearing to assure he is safe from Braun and to order him to report to the Medina office of the OAPA, and not the Elyria office where Braun is assigned.

         Standard of Review

         The Court is expressly authorized to dismiss any civil action filed by a prisoner seeking relief from a governmental entity, as soon as possible after docketing, if the Court concludes that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if the Plaintiff seeks monetary relief from a Defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915A; Siller v. Dean, No. 99-5323, 2000 WL 145167, at *2 (6th Cir. Feb. 1, 2000); see Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-37 (1974) (citing numerous Supreme Court cases for the proposition that attenuated or unsubstantial claims divest the district court of jurisdiction); In re Bendectin Litig., 857 F.2d 290, 300 (6th Cir. 1988) (recognizing that federal question jurisdiction is divested by unsubstantial claims).

         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)


         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 he and Braun both reside in Ohio. 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). The Complaint, as written, suggests that all parties to this action are citizens of Ohio. 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. In determining whether a claim arises under federal law, the Court looks only to the “well-pleaded allegations of the Complaint and ignores potential defenses” Defendant may raise. Mikulski v. Centerior Energy Corp., 501 F.3d 555, 560 (6th Cir. 2007). Although the well-pleaded-Complaint rule focuses on what Plaintiff alleges, it allows the Court to look past the words of the Complaint to determine whether the allegations ultimately involve a federal question. Ohio ex rel. Skaggs, 549 F.3d at 475. In addition to causes of action expressly created by federal law, federal-question jurisdiction also reaches ostensible state-law claims that: (1) necessarily depend on a substantial and disputed federal issue, (2) are completely preempted by federal law or (3) are truly federal-law claims in disguise. See Mikulski, 501 F.3d at 560; City of Warren v. City of Detroit, 495 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 2007).

         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, Plaintiff failed to properly identify a federal question in this case. It is possible Plaintiff might be attempting to assert a claim under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983; however, he does not specify a federal constitutional right he believes to have been violated and none is apparent on the face of the Complaint. Moreover, this Court ...

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