United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.
Phyllis Marie Knight (“Knight”), who also refers
to herself as Dr. Phyllis Marie Knight-Bey, D.M., filed this
case on May 8, 2019, and was granted leave to proceed in
forma pauperis on May 9, 2019. The court now conducts an
initial review of Knight's Complaint (Filing 1) and
Supplement (Filing 7) to determine whether summary dismissal
is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
alleges that she “has identified herself as an
aboriginal Moorish American National, a citizen of the
Moorish National Republic Federal Government, Northwest
Africa,  and as a participant in the Moorish Divine
and National Movement of the World-the North Gate, ”
and that she is “seeking damages due the unlawful
eviction filing by (attorney) John C. Chatelain on behalf of
his client (defendant) La Chelle Phillips without any proof
of a contractual violation ...” (Filing 1, p. 1).
Defendants are named in the Complaint: John C. Chatelain
(“Chatelain”), La Chelle Phillips
(“Phillips”), the Douglas County Court
Clerk's Office, Judge Sheryl L. Lohaus, and the City of
Omaha (Filing 1, pp. 2-3), but in a Supplement filed on May
20, 2019, Judge Lohaus and the City of Omaha are not included
in the list of Defendants (Filing 7, p. 3). However, the
caption of both filings lists six Defendants: Chatelain,
Phillips, an unidentified County Court Judge, County Court
Clerk Supervisor (Etta), the City of Omaha, and the State of
alleges that she “entered [a] motion in the (Douglas
County Court) on May 7, 2019 demanding case number CI 19-8911
be dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction over the person, the
subject and the matter due to diversity of
citizenship.” (Filing 1, p. 1) The court takes judicial
notice of the proceedings in La Chelle Phillips v.
Phyllis Marie Knight, County Court of Douglas, Nebraska,
Case No. CI 19-8911 (available on the JUSTICE public database
at www.nebraska.gov). The county court file reflects that a
complaint for restitution and detainer was filed against
Knight on April 24, 2019, by attorney John C. Chatelain
(“Chatelain”) on behalf of La Chelle Phillips
(“Phillips”), who was alleged to be the owner of
a residence located at 5403 Grand Avenue in Omaha, Nebraska.
The matter was dismissed without prejudice following a
hearing on May 8, 2019.
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. §
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).
district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). “If the court determines at any time
that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must
dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
jurisdiction of the federal district courts over civil
actions is generally set forth in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331
and 1332. Subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1331, commonly referred to as “federal question”
jurisdiction, is proper when a plaintiff asserts a claim
arising under a federal statute, the Constitution, or
treaties of the United States. McLain v. Andersen
Corp., 567 F.3d 956, 963 (8th Cir. 2009). Subject-matter
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, commonly referred
to as “diversity of citizenship” jurisdiction, is
proper when “the citizenship of each plaintiff is
different from the citizenship of each defendant.”
Ryan v. Schneider Natl. Carriers, Inc., 263 F.3d
816, 819 (8th Cir. 2001). The necessary diversity of
citizenship can be between citizens of different
States” or between “citizens of a State and
citizens or subjects of a foreign state.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1)-(2). In addition, the amount in controversy
in an action brought under “diversity of
citizenship” jurisdiction must be greater than $75,
000.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
alleges that she “is proceeding as a Natural Person, in
Propria Persona, Sui Juris under the status 28 U.S. Code
§ 1331 and 42 U.S. Code § 242 [sic]”
(Filing 1, p. 3). The second statutory reference presumably
was intended as 18 U.S.C. § 242, which is a “civil
rights statute making it criminal to act (1)
‘willfully' and (2) under color of law (3) to
deprive a person of rights protected by the Constitution or
laws of the United States.” United States v.
Peterson, 887 F.3d 343, 347 (8th Cir. 2018) (quoting
United States v. Lanier, 520 U.S. 259, 264 (1997)).
There is no private cause of action under this statute.
Garrison v. Rock Creek Holding, LLC, No.
5:19-CV-05021, 2019 WL 1186862, at *2 (W.D. Ark. Mar. 13,
2019) (citing Rockefeller v. United States Court of
Appeals Office, for Tenth Circuit Judges, 248 F.Supp.2d
17 (D.D.C. 2003)); see Allen v. Gold Country Casino,
464 F.3d 1044, 1048 (9th Cir. 2006) (18 U.S.C. § 242 is
a criminal statute that does not give rise to civil
liability). However, the statute has a civil counterpart, 42
U.S.C. § 1983. To state a ...