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Johnson v. North Carolina Unemployment

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 7, 2014

CLARENCE D. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTH CAROLINA UNEMPLOYMENT, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

GEORGE A. O'TOOLE, Jr., District Judge.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) allows plaintiff's Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees; (2) dismisses this action; and (3) warns plaintiff of the Court's authority to issue sanctions for vexatious litigation.

I. Background

On March 24, 2014, Clarence D. Johnson ("Johnson"), a resident of Clinton, Maryland, filed an Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees along with his self-prepared complaint. He subsequently filed motions to seal, for appointment of counsel and for hearing.

As best can be gleaned from plaintiff's four-page, handwritten complaint, plaintiff complains that he owns federal taxes because they were not withheld from his state unemployment benefits. Complaint ("Compl."). The case caption names as defendants "North Carolina Unemployment" and the "IRS, et al." Id . Plaintiff asserts claims of patent infringement, identity theft, employment discrimination, slander, housing discrimination and violation of the fair labor standards act. Id. at p. 1. For relief, plaintiff "seek[s] $15 million Dollars in damages, " "request[s] trial by jury" and states that he "need[s] some accountability." Id. at p. 4.

The Court's records indicate that Mr. Johnson previously filed five other cases in the District of Massachusetts. See Johnson v. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, et al., C.A. No. 13-12584-FDS (Jan. 6, 2014, dismissed for failure to state a claim); Johnson v. Sheet Metal Local #100, et al., C.A. No. 13-13223-NMG (pending); Johnson v. Evans, et al., C.A. 14-10864-JGD (pending); Johnson v. Wells Fargo Bank, C.A. No. 14-11274-MPK (pending); and Johnson v. United States Judges, et al., C.A. No. 14-11273-DPW (pending).

Moreover, a search of the federal Judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service reveals that plaintiff filed six frivolous actions in other federal district courts last year. See Johnson v. Denver Gen. Dist. Court, 1:2013-cv-01475 (D. D.C. Sept. 26, 2013); Johnson v. Henrico Police Dept, 1:2013-cv-12584 (D. D.C. Sept. 26, 2013); Johnson v. Henrico Co. Govt., 1:2013-cv-00286 (E.D. Va. June 19, 2013); Johnson v. IRS, 1:2013-cv-00385 (E.D. Va. Mar. 26, 2013); Johnson v. Wells Fargo, 1:2013-cv-00419 (E.D. Va. Apr. 9, 2013); Johnson v. Ebenezer Baptist Church, 1:2013-cv-00430 (E.D.Va. Aug. 15, 2013). The instant action raises claims similar to those raised by Johnson in Johnson v. IRS, 1:2013-cv-00385 (E.D. Va. Mar. 26, 2013) (dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), aff'd No. 13-1518 (4th Cir. Jul. 12, 2013) (affirming dismissal and denying motion for appointment of counsel).

II. Discussion

A. Filing Fee

The fee to file a civil action is $350.00, see 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), although an indigent litigant may proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Plaintiff filed an Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees. Based upon the financial disclosures, the Court will allow plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis.

B. Screening of the Complaint

When a plaintiff is permitted to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, summonses do not issue until the Court reviews the complaint and determines that it satisfies the substantive requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Section 1915 authorizes federal courts to dismiss complaints sua sponte if the claims therein lack an arguable basis in law or in fact, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) Denton v. Hernandez , 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992); Gonzalez-Gonzalez v. United States , 257 F.3d 31, 37 (1st Cir. 2001).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the court accepts as true the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and takes reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Martino v. Forward Air, Inc. , 609 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2010). To avoid dismissal, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The plausibility standard does not require a probability but is more than a mere possibility. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

In conducting the preliminary screening, the Court construes plaintiff's pro se complaint generously. See Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Rodi v. New Eng. ...


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