United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on pro se Plaintiff Maya
Washington's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (DE 2).
She is attempting to sue her landlord for various claims
arising out of the lease agreement between them. For the
reasons stated below, the Court DENIES the motion and
DISMISSES the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Overview of the Case
has made several claims fundamentally based on state
landlord-tenant law. These claims relate to a residential
lease signed between Plaintiff and Rishari Properties LLC.
(DE 4-2:4). Rishari Properties, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is
listed on Plaintiff's eviction notice. Plaintiff's
complaint is titled “Small Claims Lawsuit”.
claims include $2, 100 for relocation assistance (DE 4-1);
$700 as a returned security deposit (DE 1, 4-3); $150 for
reimbursement for the purchase of a refrigerator; $1, 000 to
cover a loan she was forced to take from her uncle as a
result of her landlord's alleged actions (DE 1);
liquidated damages of seemingly less than $500 (DE 4-4, 4-5);
and $30, 000 for pain and suffering experienced by Plaintiff
and her two children ($10, 000 each) (DE 1, 4). Plaintiff
does not appear to calculate a total monetary demand in her
filings, but the aforementioned amounts total to $34, 450.
Plaintiff submitted an inspection report by the Indiana
Housing and Community Development Authority indicating
Plaintiff's landlord may have violated Indiana law,
Plaintiff cites to Washington state's Revised Code of
Washington (RCW) for her legal authority. (See,
e.g., DE 4-3 (citing Wash. Rev. Code §
59.18.030 and 59.18.253).)
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) directs courts to screen all
complaints filed with requests to proceed in forma pauperis,
and to dismiss the case if the court determines the action
(1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. The Court
must first, however, determine whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction over the case. Arbaugh v. Y & H
Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006) (citing Ruhrgas AG
v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583, 587-88 (1999))
(reaffirming all federal courts' “obligation to
determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in
the absence of a challenge from any party.”).
courts have subject matter jurisdiction over cases which
present a federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or when
complete diversity of citizenship exists between plaintiffs
and defendants and when the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff, as the proponent
of jurisdiction, has the burden of showing-by a preponderance
of the evidence-facts that suggest the amount-in-controversy
requirement is met. Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472
F.3d 506, 511 (7th Cir. 2006). A good-faith estimate is
acceptable if it is plausible and supported by a
preponderance of the evidence. Id. See also Rubel v.
Pfizer, Inc., 361 F.3d 1016, 1020 (7th Cir. 2004).
Court finds no plausible showing that the
amount-in-controversy in this case can exceed $75, 000. Even
if Plaintiff succeeded on all her claims, she does not even
ask for $75, 000; it is difficult to see how she could be
awarded more. Furthermore, Plaintiff advances no federal
question in her filings. Accordingly, this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction.
this Court were to acquire subject matter jurisdiction,
however, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) would still
require a dismissal. This subsection mandates dismissal of
any matter proceeding in forma pauperis which fails to state
a claim on which relief can be granted. Plaintiff does not
cite to applicable law. Washington's landlord-tenant law
does not ordinarily apply to residential leases made in
Indiana. This Court would thus be required to dismiss this
case even if it had-somehow-found jurisdiction over the
opinion should not be read to speak to the merits of
Plaintiff's complaint under state law. This Court
expresses no opinion regarding the potential success or
failure of any claims she may or may not have against her
former landlord. Rather, the Court finds itself without
authority to resolve the matter: to the extent
Plaintiff's claims as filed can be brought anywhere, they
must be brought in state court.
reasons stated above, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion
to proceed in forma pauperis and DISMISSES the case ...