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Rucker v. Smith

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

January 12, 2018

DAWN RUCKER, Parent on behalf of Demetrius Rucker, Incapacitated Individual; Plaintiff,
JAMIESHA SMITH, DRUG DEALERS, JASON TIERNEY, General Laborer; and NORIEGA ET AL, Terrorist; Defendants.


          Richard G. Kopf, Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Dawn Rucker (“Rucker”) filed her Complaint (Filing No. 1) on September 29, 2017, and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Filing No. 5). The court now conducts an initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).


         Rucker bring this action as “[p]arent on behalf of Demetrius Rucker - Incapacitated Individual.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p.1.) Rucker is the mother of 22-year-old Demetrius Rucker (“Demetrius”), who Rucker alleges is mentally incapacitated due to illegal drug use. (Id. at CM/ECF pp.4, 9-10.) Rucker alleges that Defendants Jamiesha Smith, Jason Tierney, and “others” are selling drugs out of Demetrius' apartment and intentionally associating Demetrius in their illegal activities. (Id. at CM/ECF p.4.) As relief, Rucker requests that Demetrius be placed in inpatient rehabilitation in a mental institution and receive certain therapies from a specified provider. (Id.)


         The 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).

         Pro se 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.”).

         “The 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).


         There are several problematic issues with Rucker's Complaint, especially because she is attempting to proceed in a representative capacity. As discussed below, Rucker has failed to allege that the court has jurisdiction over this matter or that she has standing to bring any claims on behalf of her son.

         A. Jurisdiction

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal district courts is generally set forth in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. Under these statutes, federal jurisdiction is available only when a “federal question” is presented (i.e., in a civil action arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States) or when the parties are of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.

         Here, Rucker cites the following provisions as bases for federal question jurisdiction: (1) “Nebraska Criminal Rules 3.1(C)(1), (2) & 5.1(2)(A), (B), (C) - Emergency & 9.1;” (2) 42 U.S.C. § 2254; (3) 28 U.S.C. § 2241; and (4) “Freedom to use laced Marijuana (k-2 with crank unknowingly).” The court was unable to determine in its research what Rucker is referring to by the “Nebraska Criminal Rules.” Regardless, Nebraska state criminal rules would not serve as a basis of federal question jurisdiction.

         The court believes Rucker's reference to 42 U.S.C. § 2254, a repealed statute, was intended to mean 28 U.S.C. § 2254 since both it and 28 U.S.C. § 2241 address federal habeas relief. Construed as such, the Complaint fails to allege any basis for habeas relief. Federal district courts have jurisdiction to grant habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241(c)(3) or 2254(a) only on the ground that the petitioner is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. Rucker does not allege that Demetrius is in custody, let alone that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or federal law. Moreover, to the extent Rucker seeks habeas relief for Demetrius as his “next friend, ” she has failed to allege sufficient facts to establish “next friend” standing. See Whitmore v. Arkansas,495 U.S. 149, 163-64 (1990) (“‘[N]ext friend' standing is by no means ...

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