United States District Court, D. South Carolina
August 3, 2015
Jeanne Manning, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Letitia Johnson, deceased, Plaintiff,
City of Columbia and City of Columbia Police Department, Defendants.
Shiva V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
Plaintiff, appearing pro se, originally filed this complaint in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas and defendants subsequently removed the action to this court. While individuals may represent themselves pro se in federal court, the Plaintiff in this action is styled “Jeanne Manning, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Letitia Johnson, deceased.” A person may not ordinarily appear pro se in the cause of another person or entity. See Pridgen v. Andresen, 113 F.3d 391, 392–93 (2d Cir 1997) (finding that a pro se litigant may not represent a corporation, estate, or partnership); Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975) (“[W]e consider the competence of a layman representing himself to be clearly too limited to allow him to risk the rights of others.”). One exception to the rule prohibiting pro se representation of another is when a pro se person, who is the executor of an estate, represents the estate and the estate has no creditors or other beneficiaries. See Witherspoon v. Jeffords Agency, Inc., 88 F. App’x. 659 (4th Cir. 2004) (unpublished) (remanding the matter for further proceedings to ascertain whether there were any creditors involved); Malone v. Nielson, 474 F.3d 934, 937 (7th Cir. 2007) (finding that where an administrator of an estate is not the sole beneficiary or where the estate has creditors, then the administrator may not represent the estate pro se in federal court).
Plaintiff indicates she was appointed personal representative of the Estate of Letitia Johnson on May 27, 2015, by the Richland County Probate Court. [ECF No. 1-1 at 2]. However, Plaintiff does not provide any information concerning the estate’s beneficiaries or creditors. Accordingly, additional information is required to determine if Plaintiff may appear pro se on behalf of the Estate of Letitia Johnson. Plaintiff is directed to answer the attached special interrogatories within 21 days from the date of this order. Plaintiffs answers should be filed with this court.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Plaintiff’s Answers to Court’s Special Interrogatories Plaintiff indicates she was appointed personal representative of the Estate of Letitia Johnson on May 27, 2015, by the Richland County Probate Court. [ECF No. 1-1 at 2]. To determine if Plaintiff may represent the Johnson Estate pro se, Plaintiff shall answer the following questions as completely as possible in the space provided. If additional space is needed, attach a separate sheet of paper to this form and indicate which answers are continued on the separate sheet. BE AWARE THAT YOUR ANSWERS MUST BE COMPLETELY TRUTHFUL AND ARE GIVEN UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY.
1. Provide the Richland County probate case number for the Estate of Letitia Johnson. __
2. Are you a beneficiary of the Estate of Letitia Johnson? __
3. Are there any other beneficiaries of the Estate of Letitia Johnson? If so, please provides those beneficiaries names and address. __
4. Are there any creditors of the Estate of Letitia Johnson? If so, please provide those creditors names and address.__
Plaintiff is directed to attach to these interrogatories a copy of any orders or letters from the Richland County Probate Court.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.