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.
filed a complaint in which he seeks relief from a judgment
entered in the state court. (Complaint at 4, ECF No. 1.)
Defendants consist of two state court judges and an
enforcement officer with a state agency.
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
3), which the Court granted. (ECF No. 5.) 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 pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2), I recommend the Court dismiss the matter.
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, ” 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).
case, Plaintiff alleges that in a state court proceeding,
Defendant Stavros improperly entered a child support judgment
against him, Defendant McLeod, an agent with the Department
of Health and Human Services Department, threatened to revoke
his driver's license, evidently as the result of the
state court proceedings and the judgment, and Defendant
Gorman prevented him from obtaining a writ of habeas corpus
in connection with the judgment. (Complaint at 4.)
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).
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents the lower federal
courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases brought by
‘state-court losers' challenging ‘state-court
judgments rendered before the district court proceedings
commenced.'” Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S.
459, 460 (2006) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)); Walczak v.
Mass. State Retirement Bd., 141 F.3d 1150 (1st Cir.
1998) (unpublished) (citing District of Columbia Court of
Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983); Rooker
v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923)).
Here, through his request for the Court to “dismiss
[the] void judgment” entered in the state court
(Complaint at 4), Plaintiff clearly challenges the validity
of decisions of the state court and the consequences of the
decisions. To grant Plaintiff the relief he seeks, the Court
would have to vacate or invalidate a state court judgment.
Plaintiff is precluded by the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine from pursuing such relief in this Court.
on the foregoing analysis, following a review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), I recommend the ...