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Yin v. Thermo Fisher Scientific

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 31, 2017

LEI YIN, Plaintiff,
v.
THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          F. DENNIS SAYLOR IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         For the reasons stated below, the Court will (1) grant plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis; and (2) direct plaintiff to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

         I. Factual Background

         Lei Yin, who is proceeding pro se, has filed an action in which he alleges that his former employer, defendant Thermo Fisher Scientific, is liable for defamation and retaliation. According to the complaint, Yin “was a team leader in Thermo Fisher, when the site closure [occurred and] all [the] team member[s] had been laid off.” (Compl. at 4). It alleges that before the layoff, Thermo Fisher had awarded him “a reward as outstanding employee to honor [his] service to ThermoFisher.” (Id.). It further alleges that “[h]owever, recently, [he has] found out that ThermoFisher had spread out a set of documents entitled Lei Yin's HR files at ThermoFisher, which [he] had no chance [to] review and never agree[d] on.” (Id.). It alleges that the “very negative ‘manipulated' set of documents hurt [him] deeply.” (Id.).

         In his prayer for relief, Yin asks that his personnel files be corrected and that he receive $2 million in damages for defamation and retaliation. He invokes this Court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         II.Analysis

         A. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Upon review of plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court concludes that plaintiff lacks fund to prepay the filing fee. The Court therefore will grant the motion.

         B. Screening of the Complaint

         1. Court's Authority to Screen the Complaint

         Where, as here, a plaintiff is allowed to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, summonses will not issue until the court reviews the complaint and determines that it satisfies the substantive requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). That statute authorizes a federal court to dismiss a complaint sua sponte if the claims therein are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief can be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         A court has an obligation to inquire sua sponte into its own subject matter jurisdiction. See McCulloch v. Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2004). Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, “and the requirement of subject-matter jurisdiction ‘functions as a restriction on federal power.'” Fafel v. Dipaola, 399 F.3d 403, 410 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting Insurance Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982)). “The existence of subject-matter jurisdiction ‘is never presumed.'” Fafel, 399 F.3d at 410 (quoting Viqueira v. First Bank, 140 F.3d 12, 16 (1st Cir. 1998)). Rather, federal courts “must satisfy themselves that subject-matter jurisdiction has been established.” Id. “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).

         In conducting the preliminary review of the complaint, the Court must liberally construes the pleading because Yin is proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

         2. Federal Question ...


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