United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
RUFUS M. GLOVER, Plaintiff,
JOHN D. BROWN, Defendants.
Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge.
Rufus M. Glover, proceeding pro se, seeks leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 1).
Based on his financial affidavit, the court concludes that
Glover is financially eligible to proceed in forma
pauperis and so will grant his motion. The clerk should
not issue summonses for defendants at this time, however.
Instead, the court notes that Glover has failed to adequately
plead facts concerning jurisdiction in this case, and so the
court will direct that he file an amended complaint setting
forth the basis for this court's jurisdiction.
courts are not courts of general jurisdiction; they have only
the power that is authorized by Article III of the
Constitution and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant
thereto.” Brickwood Contractors., Inc. v. Datanet
Eng'g, Inc., 369 F.3d 385, 390 (4th Cir. 2004)
(quoting Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475
U.S. 534, 541 (1986)). Hence, “questions of
subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised at any point during
the proceedings and may (or, more precisely, must) be raised
sua sponte by the court.” Id.
speaking, a federal court has subject-matter jurisdiction
over a civil action only if it raises a question of federal
law, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or it is between citizens of
different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000, id. § 1332. The plaintiff bears the burden
of proving that subject-matter jurisdiction exists. Evans
v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 646 (4th Cir. 1999).
If he cannot do so, then the court must dismiss his
complaint. Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500,
complaint is skeletal and contains little factual information
or background about his claims. Instead, he simply states
that two named defendants “filed fraudulent taxes in
[his] name” and he seeks $75, 000 in damages “to
the church and $9, 900 to[him]self.” (Dkt. No. 2). He
does not identify a basis for jurisdiction anywhere in his
complaint, and his civil cover sheet states that the basis of
jurisdiction is that the United States government is the
plaintiff, which is not accurate. To the extent that Mr.
Glover is seeking to report criminal activity, as opposed to
filing a civil lawsuit for damages, he should contact the
appropriate law enforcement authorities.
the United States is not a party to this civil suit, however,
jurisdiction must be premised on either a federal question or
diversity. This court's diversity jurisdiction generally
allows the exercise of jurisdiction if the parties are
citizens of different states and the amount in controversy is
more than $75, 000. Cent. W.Va. Energy Co. v. Mt. State
Carbon, LLC, 636 F.3d 101, 103 (4th Cir. 2011). Based on
the addresses given in the complaint, it appears that both
the plaintiff and two defendants are from Virginia, so there
is not complete diversity.
extent that Mr. Glover intends to invoke a federal question
or to bring a claim based on a particular statute, he has not
identified that statute anywhere in his complaint. Nor do the
bare-bones allegations in his complaint make it readily
apparent that there is a federal question involved.
of these reasons, the court concludes that Mr. Glover has not
adequately pled facts sufficient to establish jurisdiction.
Rather than dismiss his complaint and require him to refile
his suit, however, the court will instead give him an
additional 30 days to supplement or amend his complaint to
properly assert jurisdiction.
court also notes that, even if it has jurisdiction, the court
shall “at any time” dismiss an in forma
pauperis complaint if it fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)-(iii). In evaluating his pro se
complaint, the court construes it liberally, holding it to
“less stringent standards that formal pleadings drafted
by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Nonetheless, “a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim of
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
the lack of detail in Mr. Glover's complaint, the court
might well find that it fails to state a claim for which
relief can be granted. It does not identify a specific cause
of action or a legal theory for recovery, and does not set
forth sufficient facts from which the court can determine
what Mr. Glover's claims are, let alone what the facts
are in support of them. By way of example only, although Mr.
Glover alleges that defendants filed fraudulent taxes in his
name, he has not identified whether the taxes were state or
federal taxes, nor has he identified what type of tax (income
tax, sales tax, business tax, etc.) is at issue. His
complaint also fails to set forth facts about when the
“fraudulent taxes” were filed and fails to
allege-or explain how-he was damaged.
allegations of fraud are generally required to be pleaded
with particularity under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
9(b). At a minimum, this means Mr. Glover must plead
“the time, place, and contents of the false
representations, ” in addition to the identity of the
individuals who made the false statements. Harrison v.
Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 784-94
(4th Cir. 1999).
these deficiencies, his claims may be subject to dismissal in
their current form. Nonetheless, because the court is
allowing Mr. Glover to amend to assert a basis for
jurisdiction, the court will also allow him to include in any
amended complaint he files any additional detail in support
of his claims that he wishes to add.
foregoing reasons, the court will grant the motion to proceed
in forma pauperis and will give Mr. Glover 30 days
to file an amended complaint that sets forth both the
purported basis for the court's jurisdiction and any
additional detail he ...