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Archer v. Plainfield Police Dep't

June 28, 2006

JAMAR ARCHER PLAINTIFF,
v.
PLAINFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dickinson R. Debevoise, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiff JAMAR ARCHER (hereinafter "Plaintiff"), a prisoner confined at the Somerset County Jail, Somerville, New Jersey, submitted for filing his complaint (hereinafter "Complaint") seeking to bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Based on his affidavit of poverty, Plaintiff's letter in lieu of his prison account statement, and the absence of three prior dismissals within 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), the Court (1) grants Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis; (2) directs the Clerk to file the Complaint without pre-payment of the filing fee; (3) assesses the $350.00 filing fee against Plaintiff; and (4) directs the agency having custody of Plaintiff to forward payments from Plaintiff's prison account to the Clerk each month that the amount in the account exceeds $10.00, until the $350.00 filing fee is paid in full, regardless of the outcome of the litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), (b). Having thoroughly reviewed Plaintiff's allegations, the Court dismisses the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff asserts the following facts. On September 14, 2005, Plaintiff, being a passenger in a car that was involved in a car accident, suffered a head injury and was taken to a hospital. See Compl. § 6, at 6. Since, as it appears that, although policemen attended the accident, no police report of the accident was created, and such lack of police report impedes Plaintiff's civil action for damages against unspecified entities involved in the accident. See id. § 6, at 7-8. Plaintiff, therefore, seeks declaratory relief (presumably, in the form of a statement that the accident actually took place), as well as compensatory and punitive damages (for unspecified injuries) and injunctive relief (of unspecified nature). See id. § 7.

LEGAL STANDARD

The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26, 1996), requires a district court to review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis or seeks redress against a governmental entity or employee. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. The Court is required to identify cognizable claims and to dismiss any claim which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.*fn1

Id.

"[T]he Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim." Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). The plaintiff is required to "set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claim or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist." Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1357, at 340 (2nd ed. 1990)). At a minimum, a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). "Rule 12(b)(6) does not countenance . . . dismissals based on a judge's disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). Rather, the Court is "required to accept as true all of the allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Morse v. Lower Merion School Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

A claim is frivolous if it "lacks even an arguable basis in law" or its factual allegations describe "fantastic or delusional scenarios." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328; see also Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1990). "A pro se complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears 'beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Milhouse v. Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir. 1981) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)).

DISCUSSION

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Mansfield, C. & L. M. Ry. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 383 (1884). As the Supreme Court stated in Bender v. Williamsport Area School Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986), it is appropriate to restate certain basic principles that limit the power of every federal court. Federal courts are not courts of general jurisdiction; they have only the power that is authorized by Article III of the Constitution and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto. "Every grant of federal jurisdiction must fall within one of the nine categories of cases and controversies enumerated in Article III." In re TMI Litigation Cases Consol. II, 940 F.2d 832, 861-62 (3d Cir. 1991) (Scirica, J., concurring) (citing Hodgson v. Bowerbank, 5 Cranch (9 U.S.) 303, 3 L.Ed. 108 (1809)). Article III of the Constitution provides:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same ...


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