United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Jacqueline Johnson's request to proceed in forma
pauperis (dkt 2) is granted. The assessment of even an
initial partial filing fee is not feasible at this time.
action was filed by Jacqueline Johnson on behalf of herself
and four of her siblings. Ms. Johnson does not allege that
she is an attorney, and a non-attorney may not represent
others in district court. See Georgakis v. Illinois State
University, 722 F.3d 1075, 1077 (7th Cir. 2013)
(“A nonlawyer can't handle a case on behalf of
anyone except himself.”); Lewis v. Lenc-Smith Mfg.
Co., 784 F.2d 829, 830 (7th Cir. 1986) (“[I]t is
clear than an individual may appear in the federal courts
only pro se or through counsel.”); Bronk
v. Utschig, No. 12-cv-832-WMC, 2012 WL 6586485 (W.D.
Wis. Dec. 17, 2012) (“The right to litigate pro
se is personal to each individual and does not grant
authority to prosecute an action in federal court on behalf
of others. In other words, a party can represent himself or
be represented by an attorney, but cannot be represented by a
nonlawyer in federal court.”); 28 U.S.C. § 1654.
Accordingly, the other individuals identified as plaintiffs
in this action shall not be recognized as such. The clerk is
directed to terminate Penny Wright, Judy Broshears, Dale
Wright and Douglas Wright as plaintiffs on the docket.
Johnson alleges that her mother's rights under the
“Federal Reform Act” were “seriously
violated” by Billie Faye Mosley (Ms. Johnson's
half-sister) and Green Valley Care Center. Ms. Mosely was
appointed to serve as the mother's guardian by a state
court and was involved in the mother's placement and care
at Green Valley Care Center. Ms. Johnson alleges that her
mother was abused at the care center and that her death was
caused by mistreatment and improper drug prescriptions.
to esoteric exceptions not implicated by the circumstances of
this case, “[a] federal court may exercise jurisdiction
where: 1) the requirements for diversity jurisdiction set
forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1332 are met; or 2) the matter
arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1331.”
Barringer-Willis v. Healthsource North Carolina, 14
F.Supp.2d 780, 781 (E.D. N.C. 1998). “'A case is
properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to
adjudicate the case.'” Home Builders Ass'n
of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010
(5th Cir. 1998) (quoting Nowak v. Ironworkers Local 6
Pension Fund, 81 F.3d 1182, 1187 (2d Cir. 1996)). The
Court of Appeals has repeatedly held that “the party
invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
demonstrating its existence.” See Hart v. FedEx
Ground Pkg. Sys. Inc., 457 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir.
there is no allegation of conduct which could support the
existence of federal question jurisdiction. See Williams
v. Aztar Ind. Gaming Corp., 351 F.3d 294, 298 (7th Cir.
2003)(explaining federal courts may exercise federal-question
jurisdiction when a plaintiff's right to relief is
created by or depends on a federal statute or constitutional
provision). Ms. Johnson suggests that her mother's rights
under the “Federal Reform Act” were violated, but
the Court could not locate a law by this title. In any event,
the question is whether Ms. Johnson's federal rights were
violated, not whether her mother's rights were violated.
Similarly, there is no allegation of diversity of
citizenship. See Denlinger v. Brennan, 87 F.3d 214,
217 (7th Cir. 1996) (holding that failure to include
allegations of citizenship requires dismissal of complaint
based on diversity jurisdiction).
is determined that a court lacks jurisdiction, its only
course of action is to announce that fact and dismiss the
case. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better
Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 94
(1998)(“'Jurisdiction is power to declare the law,
and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to
the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the
cause.'”)(quoting Ex parte McCardle, 7
Wall, 506, 514, 19 L.Ed. 264 (1868)). That is the case here.
The complaint fails to contain a legally viable claim over
which this Court could exercise subject matter jurisdiction
and this action is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Opportunity to Show Cause
Johnson's complaint must be dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction. The plaintiff shall have through November 9,
2016, in which to show cause why Judgment consistent with
this Entry should not issue. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc.,722 F.3d 1014, 1022 (7th Cir. 2013)
(“Without at least an opportunity to amend or to
respond to an order to show cause, an IFP applicant's
case could be tossed out of court without giving ...