United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE SARA LIOI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se plaintiff Samuel Darnell Yates (“Yates”)
brings this action against the City of Barberton, Ohio, the
Summit County Board of Education, and the Barberton Fire
Department (collectively, “defendants”). (Doc.
No. 1 (“Compl.”).) Yates moves to proceed with
this action in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 2), and that
motion is granted.
reasons that follow, this case is dismissed.
states that the basis for the Court's subject matter
jurisdiction in this case is 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and
identifies the federal statute at issue as National Fire
Protection Association (“NFPA”) Life Safety Code
101, Safety Code Section 18.104.22.168.1. (Compl. at
see also Doc. No. 1-1 at 8.) The claims in this case
arise from events that occurred during Yates' freshman
year at Barberton High School in 1988-89. (Doc. No. 1-1 at
6.) Yates states that he was a talented musical student and
football player with a promising NFL career ahead of him.
According to the complaint, Yates opened a classroom window
to let fresh air in and sat out on the window ledge. Students
yelled at him to jump, so he did. He landed on his feet, then
“fell backwards into the window hole of the high school
that outlined its landscaping.” When he attempted to
get out of the hole, his “back just snapped[, ]”
leaving him with two broken collar bones and scoliosis of the
spine. As a result, Yates could not play football or the
trumpet, ending a promising future. (Id. at 7.)
Yates alleges violations of certain sections from the
International Building Code, International Fire Code, and
NFPA regarding egress from exterior doors. (Id. at
8.) Yates seeks $481, 000, 000.00 in relief. (Compl. at 4.)
Standard of Review
se pleadings are held to “less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers” and must be
liberally construed. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S.
364, 365, 102 S.Ct. 700, 70 L.Ed.2d 551 (1982) (per curiam)
(citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct.
594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972)); see also Franklin v.
Rose, 765 F.2d 82, 85 (6th Cir. 1985) (pro se
complaints are entitled to liberal construction) (citations
omitted). That said, the Court is not required to conjure
unpleaded facts or construct claims on Plaintiff's
behalf. See Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 577
(6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277-78 (4th Cir. 1985).
“If the court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and “have a
duty to consider their subject matter jurisdiction in regard
to every case and may raise the issue sua
sponte.” Answers in Genesis of Ky., Inc. v.
Creation Ministries Int'l, Ltd., 556 F.3d 459, 465
(6th Cir. 2009). Generally speaking, the Constitution and
Congress have given federal courts authority over a case only
when the action raises a federal question or when diversity
of citizenship exists between the parties. See
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107
S.Ct. 2425, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987) (“Absent diversity of
citizenship, federal-question jurisdiction is
Court lacks federal question jurisdiction
first type of federal jurisdiction relies upon the presence
of a federal question. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Federal question 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. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1,
27-28, 103 S.Ct. 2841, 77 L.Ed.2d 420 (1983). In determining
whether a claim arises under federal law, the Court looks to
the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint. Mikulski
v. Centerior Energy Corp., 501 F.3d 555, 560 (6th Cir.
2007) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Although the
well-pleaded complaint rule focuses on what a 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 v.
Brunner, 549 F.3d 468, 475 (6th Cir. 2008).
construing the complaint, it appears that Yates is alleging
the defendants violated certain NFPA and industry standards
and those violation resulted in his injuries. But there are
no allegations from which this Court may infer that those
standards have been adopted by Congress or promulgated by any
federal agency or department such that they have the force of
federal law. See Quadrant EPP USA, Inc. v. Menasha
Corp., No. 06-356, 2010 WL 3855549, at *12 (E.D. Pa.
Sept. 30, 2010) (finding that alleged failure to comply with
NFPA 654 did not violate the general duty clause of the
Occupational Safety and Health Act because NFPA has not been
adopted by Congress of the Secretary of Labor as a standard
for OSHA enforcement and, therefore, does not have the force
of law), aff'd, 445 Fed.Appx. 589 (3d Cir.
2011); see also Getty Petroleum Mktg., Inc. v. Capital
Terminal Co., 391 F.3d 312, 327 (1st Cir. 2004)
(“Many building, fire, electric, and other safety codes
with the force of law were originally developed as industry
standards by private nongovernmental entities and then
adopted into law. Such privately-developed codes can be
adopted into law in two different ways: directly or by
reference.”) (collecting cases).
with the benefit of liberal construction, Yates has not
alleged a federal question and none is apparent to the Court
from the face of the complaint. Thus, the Court lacks ...