United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
Stewart, a Plaintiff proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint
[ECF No. 1] against Defendants Parkview Behavioral Hospital
and Lakisha Houston. He also filed a Motion for Leave to
Proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2]. For the reasons set
forth below, the Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED. The
Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), and he is GRANTED additional time
to amend his Complaint, accompanied either by the statutory
filing fee or another Petition to Proceed Without Pre-Payment
of Fees and Costs. If the Plaintiff fails to amend his
Complaint within the time allowed, the Clerk will be directed
to close this case without further notice to the Plaintiff.
a plaintiff must pay a statutory filing fee to bring an
action in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). However,
the federal in forma pauperis (IFP) statute, 28 U.S.C. §
1915, provides indigent litigants an opportunity for
meaningful access to the federal courts despite their
inability to pay the costs and fees associated with that
access. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319
(1989). To authorize a litigant to proceed IFP, a court must
make two determinations: first, whether the litigant is
unable to pay the costs of commencing the action, §
1915(a)(1); and second, whether the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief, § 1915(e)(2)(B).
the first inquiry, an indigent party may commence an action
in federal court, without prepayment of costs and fees, upon
submission of an affidavit asserting an inability “to
pay such fees or give security therefor.” Id.
§ 1915(a). Here, it is not clear to the Court whether
the Plaintiff is unable to prepay the filing fee because he
states that he is on fixed income but provides income
information only for his spouse. However, assuming that the
Plaintiff is unable to prepay the filing fee, the inquiry
does not end.
assessing whether a plaintiff may proceed IFP, a court must
look to the sufficiency of the complaint to determine whether
it can be construed as stating a claim for which relief can
be granted or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who
is immune from such relief. Id. §
1915(e)(2)(B). District courts have the power under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen complaints even before service
of the complaint on the defendants, and must dismiss the
complaint if it fails to state a claim. Rowe v.
Shake, 196 F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999). Courts apply
the same standard under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) as
when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1018, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013).
state a claim under the federal notice pleading standards, a
complaint must set forth a “short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Factual allegations are
accepted as true and need only give “fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc.,
496 F.3d 773, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). However, a
plaintiff's allegations must show that his entitlement to
relief is plausible, rather than merely speculative.
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir.
basis for the Plaintiff's suit appears to be as follows:
while driving the Plaintiff's car, the Plaintiff's
grandson, Tyquan Stewart,  presented to Parkview Behavioral
Hospital while suffering from a medical/psychological
emergency. Hospital employee Lakisha Houston turned Tyquan
Stewart away and told him to go to a different hospital.
After leaving Parkview Behavioral Hospital, Tyquan Stewart
drove the Plaintiff's car into a building in an attempt
to commit suicide. The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants
violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act
(“the EMTALA”) by refusing to admit Tyquan
Stewart and that the Defendants were negligent. The Plaintiff
seeks “com[p]ensatory damages, punitive damages and any
other damages” that resulted from the Defendants'
the Plaintiff has not established that this Court has subject
matter jurisdiction. Federal courts are of limited
jurisdiction and may adjudicate claims only if the Complaint
alleges violation of a federal statute or of the
Plaintiff's constitutional rights or if the Complaint
meets diversity requirements, which require that each
Defendant reside in a different state than the Plaintiff and
that the Plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $75, 000. 28
U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. Because all parties reside in
Indiana and the Plaintiff has not identified the amount of
monetary relief he seeks, the diversity requirements are not
met. Therefore, for the Court to have jurisdiction over his
claim, the Plaintiff must allege that the Defendants violated
either his statutory or constitutional rights. This he has
Plaintiff's request for relief specifies that his damages
arise out of the Defendants' alleged negligence, which is
a state law claim. The Complaint also contains allegations
that the Defendants violated the EMTALA, which is a federal
claim. However, courts that have considered the issue have
found that third parties do not have standing to bring claims
under the EMTALA in a non-representative capacity. See,
e.g., Palmer v. Shawnee Mission Med. Ctr.,
Inc., No. 16-2750, 2017 WL 5629624, at *6-7 (D. Kan.
Nov. 22, 2017); Pauly v. Stanford Hosp., No.
10-CV-5582, 2011 WL 1793387, at *5 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 2011).
Thus, this Complaint states no valid federal cause of action
against either of the Defendants.
the Court will deny the Plaintiff's request for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis, and will dismiss this action.
Because the Plaintiff has asserted state law claims over
which this Court has no jurisdiction, the dismissal of this
Complaint will be without prejudice to the Plaintiff's
right to refile his state law claims against the Defendants
in a state court. Additionally, the Court grants the
Plaintiff until February 13, 2018, to file an amended
complaint in this Court if he prefers to do so. See
Luevano, 722 F.3d at 1022 (stating that a litigant
proceeding under IFP statute has the same right to amend a
complaint as fee-paying plaintiffs have). If the Plaintiff
chooses to file an amended complaint, his amended complaint
must contain allegations that plausibly suggest that the
Defendants have violated federal law. Along with an amended
complaint, the Plaintiff must also file a new Petition to
Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees and Costs or pay
the filing fee.
Plaintiff does not file an amended complaint by February 13,
2018, the Court will direct the Clerk to close this case.