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Cooper v. State

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

March 6, 2018

Nathaniel Cooper, Plaintiff,
v.
The State of South Carolina; The State of North Carolina; Time Warner Cable; Galleria Club Lane Apartment; United States Government, Defendants.

          ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Paige J. Gossett, United States Magistrate Judge.

         The plaintiff, Nathaniel Cooper, proceeding pro se, brings this civil action. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the Amended Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes that it should be summarily dismissed without prejudice and issuance and service of process, and that Plaintiff's motion to amend his pleading should be denied.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed his first Complaint in this action on November 28, 2017. In his original complaint, Plaintiff indicated the court had jurisdiction over this matter because the constitutions of the United States, South Carolina, and North Carolina are at issue, as well as various federal statutes including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. He provided lists of ways in which his rights have been violated, but they are mostly lists of constitutional and statutory provisions and other quasi-legal terms and phrases, without accompanying facts. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5.) Plaintiff also referenced a patent that he claimed was issued by the United States Patent Office on May 2, 2017. (Id. at 8.) He claimed the “patent delay and interference” has caused a delay in the mass production of a product that could impact the “opioid problem.” (Id.) He alleged that various credit bureaus made an error on his credit report that damaged him. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 9.) He also alleged he incurred various injuries, such as harassment, intimidation, and bullying at Defendant Galleria Club Lane Apartments. (Id. at 9.) He sought damages and restraining orders to keep “all offenders” from his family and property. (Id. at 8.)

         On December 14, 2017, the court issued an order directing Plaintiff to bring the case into proper form for the issuance and service of process by filing a properly completed summons form. (ECF No. 7.) The order warned Plaintiff that his failure to comply with the order within the time permitted would subject his case to dismissal for failure to prosecute and for failure to comply with an order of the court under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41. (Id. at 1-2.) The court also issued an order warning Plaintiff that the Complaint was subject to summary dismissal because it was frivolous, and providing Plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint to correct the deficiencies identified by the court. (ECF No. 8.) That order liberally construed the Complaint as asserting patent infringement claims and a claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but found that the claims were frivolous because they lacked sufficient factual support. (Id. at 3-4.)

         Plaintiff responded to the proper form order by filing proof of service forms, rather than a completed summons as the court instructed.[1] (ECF No. 20.) At this time, the case is still not in proper form for service of process because Plaintiff has failed to file a properly completed summons.

         Plaintiff also filed an Amended Complaint and motion to amend with a proposed Second Amended Complaint. (ECF Nos. 17 & 23). In these new pleadings, Plaintiff indicates he is no longer pursuing a patent infringement claim, and he fails to provide sufficient factual matter to support his Fair Credit Reporting Act claim. Plaintiff also dropped most of the defendants, and the only remaining defendants are the State of South Carolina, State of North Carolina, Time Warner Cable, Galleria Club Lane Apartments, and the United States Government. The only defendants Plaintiff mentions in the body of the amended pleadings are Time Warner Cable and Galleria Club Lane Apartments, but Plaintiff does not provide any facts or allegations against them that resemble a legal claim for relief. (Am. Compl, ECF No. 17 at 7.; Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 23-1 at 6.) And he again provides lists of ways in which his rights have been violated, but they are mostly lists of constitutional and statutory provisions and other quasi-legal terms and phrases, without accompanying facts.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se pleadings. The court possesses the inherent authority to review pro se pleadings to ensure that subject matter jurisdiction exists and that a case is not frivolous, even if the pleading is not subject to the prescreening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915. See Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08 (1989) (“Section 1915(d) . . . authorizes courts to dismiss a ‘frivolous or malicious' action, but there is little doubt they would have power to do so even in the absence of this statutory provision.”); Ross v. Baron, 493 Fed.Appx. 405, 406 (4th Cir. 2012) (unpublished) (“[F]rivolous complaints are subject to dismissal pursuant to the inherent authority of the court, even when the filing fee has been paid . . . [and] because a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over an obviously frivolous complaint, dismissal prior to service of process is permitted.”) (citations omitted); see also Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh Street Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 364 (2d Cir. 2000) (“[D]istrict courts may dismiss a frivolous complaint sua sponte even when the plaintiff has paid the required filing fee[.]”); Ricketts v. Midwest Nat'l Bank, 874 F.2d 1177, 1181 (7th Cir. 1989) (“[A] district court's obligation to review its own jurisdiction is a matter that must be raised sua sponte, and it exists independent of the ‘defenses' a party might either make or waive under the Federal Rules.”); Franklin v. State of Or., State Welfare Div., 662 F.2d 1337, 1342 (9th Cir. 1981) (providing a judge may dismiss an action sua sponte for lack of subject matter jurisdiction without issuing a summons or following other procedural requirements).

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 684 (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         The court finds Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and proposed Second Amended Complaint are frivolous. The new pleadings lack factual coherence and fail to state any recognizable legal claim for relief against the named defendants. The new pleadings also fail to cure the deficiencies identified by the court in its December 14 order regarding amendment of the complaint. As the court has already warned Plaintiff that his original pleading was frivolous, and because Plaintiff's amendment and proposed amendment to the pleading have not cured that deficiency, the court finds this action should be summarily dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Mallard, 490 U.S. at 307-08; Ross, 493 Fed.Appx. at 406.

         C. Failure to prosecute or comply with an ...


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