United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(E)
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
action, Plaintiff Karen Ornberg, a resident of Monticello,
Maine, alleges Defendant Pineland Farms Potato Company, in
Mars Hill, Maine, and certain of its employees discriminated
against Plaintiff when Defendant terminated her employment
after she filed a workers' compensation claim.
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
2), which application the Court granted. (ECF No. 4.) In
accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary
review of Plaintiff's complaint is appropriate. 28 U.S.C.
a review of Plaintiff's complaint, I recommend the Court
dismiss the complaint.
federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, is
designed to ensure meaningful access to the federal courts
for those persons unable to pay the costs of bringing an
action. When a party is proceeding in forma pauperis,
however, “the court shall dismiss the case at any time
if the court determines, ” inter alia, that the action
is “frivolous or malicious” or “fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted” or
“seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). “Dismissals [under § 1915] are
often made sua sponte prior to the issuance of process, so as
to spare prospective defendants the inconvenience and expense
of answering such complaints.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989).
considering whether a complaint states a claim for which
relief may be granted, courts must assume the truth of all
well-plead facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all
reasonable inferences therefrom. Ocasio-Hernandez v.
Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted if it does not 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
a pro se plaintiff's complaint is subject to “less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972),
this is “not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not
required to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim,
” Ferranti v. Moran, 618 F.2d 888, 890 (1st
Cir. 1980). To allege a civil action in federal court, it is
not enough for a plaintiff merely to allege that a defendant
acted unlawfully; a plaintiff must affirmatively allege facts
that identify the manner by which the defendant subjected the
plaintiff to a harm for which the law affords a remedy.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
alleges she worked for Defendant Pineland Farms Potato
Company and suffered an injury at work on December 8, 2015.
She asserts that on December 12, 2015, she filed a
workers' compensation claim. (Complaint at 6, ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiff contends that Defendant Pineland Farms Potato
Company terminated her employment because she filed the
claim. (Complaint at 3, 6.)
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ' possessing
‘only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.'” Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251,
256 (2013) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). “It 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, 511
U.S. at 377 (citation omitted). “A court is duty-bound
to notice, and act upon, defects in its subject matter
jurisdiction sua sponte.” Spooner v. EEN,
Inc., 644 F.3d 62, 67 (1st Cir. 2011). A review of
Plaintiff's complaint fails to reveal a basis upon which
this Court could exercise either federal question
jurisdiction or diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 and 1332.
to section 1331, federal district courts “have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff has not asserted a claim
based on the United States Constitution, a federal statute,
or a federal treaty. Instead, Plaintiff alleges
discrimination based on the fact that she filed a
workers' compensation claim. Plaintiff's
discrimination allegation does not constitute an actionable
to section 1332, federal district courts also have original
jurisdiction “where the matter in controversy exceeds
the sum or value of $75, 000 … and is between citizens
of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). In
order for Plaintiff's claim to come within this
Court's diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff and Defendants
must have been citizens of different states on the date the
complaint was filed. Furthermore, for the exercise of
diversity jurisdiction to be valid, there must be
“complete diversity of citizenship as between all
plaintiffs and all defendants.” Connectu LLC v.
Zuckerberg, 522 F.3d 82, 91 (1st Cir. 2008). Plaintiff
has asserted her claim against Defendant Pineland Farms
Potato Company and a group of its employees who participated
in human resources and employee management. Plaintiff has not
suggested in her complaint that any Defendant is a citizen of
a state other than Maine. ...