United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge.
Shuler (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, alleges violations of her Fourteenth
Amendment due process rights by South Carolina Law
Enforcement Division (“Defendant”). Pursuant to
the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local
Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is
authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit
findings and recommendations to the district judge.
Factual and Procedural Background
April 4, 2019, the court found Plaintiff's complaint
involved separate and distinct incidents concerning different
groups of defendants and severed her case into six separate
actions. [ECF No. 1]. On July 16, 2019, the court transferred
this matter to the undersigned magistrate judge for review.
[ECF No. 15].
to the court's order severing Plaintiff's case, this
action concerns Plaintiff's claim that Defendant denied
her a security officer's license. [ECF No. 1 at 3].
Plaintiff alleges Defendant denied her a “security
officer license without notice or due process of law based
on” her allegedly false arrest. [ECF No. 3 at 7, 20].
She further alleges Defendant failed to respond to her
request to appeal its decision. Id. In addition to
her due process claim, Plaintiff asserts causes of action for
negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Id. at 47-48. She seeks monetary damages.
Id. at 48.
Standard of Review
filed his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal
court without prepaying the administrative costs of
proceeding with the lawsuit. To protect against possible
abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court
to dismiss a case upon a finding that the action fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous
or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A
finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a
meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with
liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant
to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's
allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of
N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). The mandated
liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that
if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a
valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should
do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction
does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently
cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, “constrained
to exercise only the authority conferred by Article III of
the Constitution and affirmatively granted by federal
statute.” In re Bulldog Trucking, Inc., 147
F.3d 347, 352 (4th Cir. 1998). Accordingly, a federal court
is required, sua sponte, to determine if a valid
basis for its jurisdiction exists “and to dismiss the
action if no such ground appears.” Id. at 352;
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the
court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).
Although the absence of subject matter jurisdiction may be
raised at any time during the case, determining jurisdiction
at the outset of the litigation is the most efficient
procedure. Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th
is no presumption that a federal court has jurisdiction over
a case, Pinkley, Inc. v. City of Frederick, MD., 191
F.3d 394, 399 (4th Cir. 1999), and a plaintiff must allege
facts essential to show jurisdiction in his pleadings.
McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S.
178, 189-90 (1936); see also Dracos v. Hellenic Lines,
Ltd., 762 F.2d 348, 350 (4th Cir. 1985)
(“[P]laintiffs must affirmatively plead the
jurisdiction of the federal court.”). To this end,
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1) requires the complaint provide “a
short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction[.]” When a complaint fails to include
“an affirmative pleading of a jurisdictional basis[, ]
a federal court may find that it has jurisdiction if the
facts supporting jurisdiction have been clearly
pleaded.” Pinkley, 191 F.3d at 399 (citations
omitted). However, if the court, viewing the allegations in
the light most favorable to a plaintiff, finds insufficient
allegations in the pleadings, the court will lack subject
matter jurisdiction. Id.
most commonly recognized and utilized bases for federal court
jurisdiction are (1) diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332, and (2) federal question pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331. The allegations contained in the instant
complaint do ...