United States District Court, D. New Jersey
June 6, 2005.
JOSEPHUS T.Y. NYEMA, SR., Plaintiff,
CITY OF TRENTON, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARY COOPER, District Judge
THIS MATTER ARISES on the in-forma-pauperis application
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 by the plaintiff pro se,
Josephus T.Y. Nyema, Sr. This is an action against the defendant
City of Trenton to recover damages for violations of Title VII,
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and 42 U.S.C. §
("Section") 1981 ("Federal Action"). The Court will address the
application before reviewing the complaint's sufficiency. See
Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 n. 1 (3d Cir. 1990).
Nyema appears to state he was employed last in October 2004 by
the County of Mercer and received $1,200. (App., at 1.) But it is
not clear whether this was his total income for all of 2004, or a
certain pay period. In addition, Nyema is no stranger to federal
court, and has demonstrated the ability to pay the filing fee
previously. (See, e.g., Nyema v. County of Mercer, Dkt. No.
04-506 (MLC), dkt. entry no. 1 (noting fee paid).) Nyema answered "No" to the following application query: "Do you
own any real estate, stocks, bonds, securities, other financial
instruments, automobiles or other valuable property?" (App., at
2.) But Nyema appears to own a home.*fn1
The Court intends to deny the application. The Court is
authorized to do so when a plaintiff fails to reveal entitlement
to in-forma-pauperis relief. See Spence v. Cmty. Life
Improv., No. 03-3406, 2003 WL 21500007, at *1 (E.D. Pa. June 26,
2003); Daniels v. County of Media, No. 03-377, 2003 WL
21294910, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 6, 2003); White v. Carollo, No.
01-4553, 2001 WL 1159845, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 13, 2001).
The Court cannot determine from the application if Nyema has
the financial means to pay the filing fee because his answers are
incomplete and unclear. In any event, as he has paid the filing
fee previously and appears to own real estate, he is not entitled
to this relief.
The Court may (1) review the complaint, and (2) direct sua
sponte that it not be filed if it is frivolous, or fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). See Mariani v. United States,
212 F.3d 761, 769 (3d Cir. 2000).
I. The Counts
Nyema, in the first two counts of the three-count complaint,
appears to allege the defendant's Division of Natural Resources
("DNR") violated Title VII and Section 1981 when it refused to
hire him as a park ranger or security guard in 2003 and 2004.
(Compl., at 2-5.) But in the third count, which alleges an ADEA
violation, Nyema seeks as relief "an appointment as Trenton
Municipal Police Officer." (Id. at 6.)
II. Previous Litigation
Defendant's misconduct against plaintiff started in
1986 and June of 1996 defendant denied plaintiff
employment as a Mechanics Help; and in 1997 defendant
also denied plaintiff interview and equal employment
opportunity as Trenton Municipal Police Officer; a
complaint was filed accordingly with the Superior
Court of New Jersey Law Division but to no avail.
(Id. at 4.) It also appears that Nyema already has a civil
action pending against the defendant in New Jersey Superior
Court, Mercer County, under docket number L-001306-05.*fn2
III. Complaint Not To Be Filed
The Court is concerned that Nyema has a state action, raising
the same claims presented in the Federal Action, already pending
against the defendant. A federal district court should abstain
from exercising jurisdiction in an action if there are (1) state
proceedings that are related and pending, (2) important state
interests implicated therein, and (3) adequate opportunities to
raise federal claims therein. Middlesex Cty. Ethics Comm. v.
Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 435 (1982); Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-54 (1971). Nyema has failed to mention
the pending state action in the complaint for the Federal Action.
The Court, in an excess of caution, will not allow the Federal
Action to proceed.
The Court also is concerned that Nyema has already litigated
the claims presented in the Federal Action against the defendant
in a previous state action "to no avail." A federal district
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over claims that were
or could have been raised in state proceedings, where the
losing party may seek review through the state appellate process
and, if warranted, certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
D.C. Ct. of Apps. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 & n. 16 (1983);
Rooker v. Fid. Tr. Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923). The losing
party may not "seek? what in substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States district court,
based on the losing party's claim that the state judgment itself
violates the loser's federal rights." Johnson v. De Grandy,
512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994). Nyema, in effect, may be seeking review
of a state court judgment. Thus, in an excess of caution, the
Court will not allow the Federal Action to proceed for this
reason as well.
The complaint concerns conduct on the part of the DNR and its
failure to hire Nyema as a park ranger or security guard. But
Nyema seeks appointment as a "Trenton Municipal Police Officer,"
which is relief seemingly unrelated to his factual recitation.
The allegations presented in the complaint, when read in their
entirety, are inconsistent, and thus fail to give "fair notice of
what [his] claim is and the grounds upon which it rests," and
thus comply with minimum pleading standards. Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a).*fn3
Nyema is no stranger to federal court, as previously noted, or
to state court. This plaintiff in particular, even though he is
pro se, should be more than familiar with the proper
standards for pleadings. Thus, in an excess of caution, the Court
will not allow the Federal Action to proceed for this additional
reason. The Court concludes that the complaint is frivolous and fails
to state a claim on which relief may be granted. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). The Court will direct the Clerk of the
Court to not file the complaint and designate the action as
closed. For good cause appearing, an appropriate order and
judgment will be issued.*fn4