United States District Court, D. Nebraska
LAWAN J. ENGLISH, Plaintiff,
METHODIST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM; DARREN KEISER, MD; SEAN BIGLER, PA; and PHYSICIANS CLINIC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD G. KOPF, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lawan English, filed this case on September 9, 2016. She has
been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The court
now conducts an initial review of English's complaint to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
claims Defendants, Methodist Health Care System, Darren
Keiser, MD, Sean Bigler, PA, and Physicians Clinic,
“conspired to commit health care fraud” against
her and “committed medical malpractice.”
(Complaint [Filing 1], pp. 5-6) English allegedly
“suffers from reflex sympathetic distrophy and severe
depression as a result of an intentional work related injury
resulting from discrimination while employed by Time Warner
Cable/now Charter Communication.” (Id., p. 6)
English further alleges she “at present has a partially
dislocated RT Shoulder & permanent damage to RT shoulder
as a result of the injury, as a result of multiple health
care systems including the Defendants' lack of proper
care or abuse of power. Leaving [her] $1600.00 to roughly
$25.00 once [she] questioned the coding and MSDRG issues on
claims.” (Id.) She alleges Defendants
“submitted false claims to BCBS for date of service
March 25, 2016; altering the diagnosis of injury to RT
Shoulder & Right Upper Quadrant due to a work related
injury on May 7, 2015 while working for Time Warner Cable
....” (Id.) English claims “Defendants
misused codes to defraud [her] out of Workers Comp
settlement” and with “a host of others conspired
to defraud [her] causing severe medical issues that are going
going [sic] unreported or have been
misrepresented.” (Id., pp. 6-7) English has
attached 74 pages of supporting documents, with handwritten
comments, to the complaint. (Id., pp. 11-84).
STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). The court also has an independent obligation
to consider its subject matter jurisdiction where there is a
reason to suspect that such jurisdiction is lacking. See
Hart v. United States, 630 F.3d 1085, 1089 (8th
Cir. 2011); Bacon v. Neer, 631 F.3d 875, 877 (8th
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
jurisdiction is proper where a plaintiff asserts “[a]
non-frivolous claim of a right or remedy under a federal
statute, ” commonly referred to as “federal
question” jurisdiction. Northwest South Dakota
Prod. Credit Ass'n v. Smith, 784 F.2d 323, 325 (8th
Cir.1986). The mere suggestion of a federal question is not
sufficient to establish the jurisdiction of federal courts,
rather, the federal court's jurisdiction must
affirmatively appear clearly and distinctly. Bilal v.
Kaplan, 904 F.2d 14, 15 (8th Cir.1990).
jurisdiction may also exist under 28 U.S.C. § 1332,
commonly referred to as “diversity of
citizenship” jurisdiction, if “the citizenship of
each plaintiff is different from the citizenship of each
defendant.” Ryan v. Schneider Nat'l Carriers,
Inc., 263 F.3d 816, 819 (8th Cir.2001) (citation
omitted). In addition, the amount in controversy must be
greater than $75, 000.00 for diversity of citizenship
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
claims federal question jurisdiction exists because her claim
arises under 18 U.S.C. § 371 and 31 U.S.C. § 3729.
Neither of these statutes provide English with a right of
action, nor are they even applicable to the claims alleged.
The first statute makes it a crime to “conspire either
to commit any offense against the United States, or to
defraud the United States ....” 18 U.S.C. § 371.
The second statute, part of the False Claims Act, imposes
civil penalties and treble damages for submitting a false
claim to the United States Government. There is no legitimate
basis for claiming federal question jurisdiction.
alleges that she is a Nebraska citizen (Complaint, p. 4),
that Defendants Keiser and Bigler are Nebraska citizens
(id., pp. 3, 4), and that Defendants Methodist and
Physicians Clinic are both Nebraska corporations
(id., pp. 8, 9). There is no diversity of
citizenship. In addition, although English is seeking to
recover $50 million in damages from each Defendant, the
allegations of the complaint do not show that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000.00.
the court could exercise subject-matter jurisdiction, the
allegations of the complaint are not sufficient to state a
claim against any Defendant, either for fraud or for medical
malpractice. The complaint is conclusory and
incomprehensible, and the attachments fail to shed any light