United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS. 3
Y. Pearson, United States District Judge.
se Plaintiff Ryan Sales filed this action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Ohio State Penitentiary
(“OSP”) Warden Richard Bowen, OSP Assistant
Warden Thomas Horten, and OSP Rules Infraction Board
(“RIB”) Chairman Lieutenant Bright. In the
Complaint (ECF No. 1), Plaintiff alleges he was
sanctioned with restrictions of his telephone and kiosk
privileges as a result of conduct charges that did not
involve inappropriate use of the telephone or kiosk. He
contends this violates prison policy. He seeks an order
lifting the sanctions and awarding him $10, 000 in damages.
Complaint (ECF No. 1) is very brief. Plaintiff
alleges he was found guilty of a conduct violation. He does
not indicate what the charges were, but states that they did
not involve inappropriate use of the telephone or kiosk.
Plaintiff contends he nevertheless was sanctioned with
telephone and kiosk restrictions for a period of time. He
asserts this violates prison policy. Plaintiff indicates he
complained to the Warden and Assistant Warden and they did
not intervene to lift the restrictions.
Standard for Dismissal
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
district 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 may 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).
An action has no arguable basis in law when a defendant is
immune from suit or when a plaintiff claims a violation of a
legal interest which clearly does not exist.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. An action has no arguable
factual basis when the allegations are delusional or rise to
the level of the irrational or “wholly
incredible.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25,
33 (1992). See also Lawler, 898 F.2d at 1199.
determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which
relief can be granted, the court must construe the complaint
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all
factual allegations as true, and determine whether the
complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The
plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds for relief
“requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Id. at 555. Although a complaint
need not contain detailed factual allegations, its
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption
that all the allegations in the complaint are true.”
Id.(citation omitted). The court is “not bound
to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265,
Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009), further explains the “plausibility”
requirement, stating that “[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.”
Id. at 678. Furthermore, “[t]he plausibility
standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id.(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This
determination is a “context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense.” Id. at 679.
Law and Analysis
has not alleged sufficient facts to demonstrate the existence
of the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction over this
case. 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
speaking, the Constitution and Congress have given federal
courts authority to hear a case only when the case raises a
federal question or when diversity of citizenship exists
between the parties. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams,
482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). 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). Federal question jurisdiction
arises when “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. Constr. Laborers Vacation
Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983).
of citizenship does not appear to exist in this case.
Plaintiff is incarcerated in the OSP and all of Defendants
are OSP employees. 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(a)(1). 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 (ECF No.
1), as written, suggests that Plaintiff and Defendants
are all citizens of Ohio. Therefore, federal subject-matter
jurisdiction cannot be based on diversity of citizenship. In
addition, the amount in controversy, i.e., $10,
000.00, does not meet the jurisdictional amount to proceed
with diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
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 ignore[s] potential defenses” a defendant may
raise. Mikulski v. Centerior Energy Corp., 501 F.3d
555, 560 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Beneficial Nat'l
Bank v. Anderson,539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003)). 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.'” Franklin v.
Rose,765 F.2d 82, 85 (6th Cir. 1985). Even with that
liberal construction, however, Plaintiff failed to properly
identify a federal question in this case. His claim is based
on a violation of prison policy, not federal law. A claim
that Defendants did not comply with prison policy is not
enough to state a claim under § 1983. An
alleged failure to comply with an administrative rule or
policy does not itself rise to the level of a constitutional
violation. Lan ...