United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
TALWANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
reasons stated below, the court grants the plaintiffs motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismisses
the action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted and lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
December 5, 2017, pro se litigant Pauline Leslie filed a
complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Superior Court of
Massachusetts. See Complaint ("Compl."),
Docket No. 1. Plaintiffs complaint recounts events
surrounding plaintiffs injuries from a 2010 motor vehicle
accident and the subsequent state court litigation in Suffolk
Superior Court. With the complaint, Leslie filed an
Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying
Fees or Costs. See Application, Docket No. 3.
Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
review of the plaintiffs motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis, the Court concludes that she has shown
that she is without assets to pay the filing fee.
Accordingly, the Court ALLOWS the motion.
Screening of the Complaint
the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the
complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). This statute authorizes federal courts to dismiss
an action in which a plaintiff seeks to proceed without
prepayment of fees if the action is malicious, frivolous,
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In
conducting this review, the court liberally construes the
plaintiffs complaint because she is proceeding pro se.
See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
where "it is crystal clear that the plaintiff cannot
prevail and that amending the complaint would be futile,
" a dismissal sua sponte is appropriate.
Garayalde-Rijos v. Municipality of Carolina, 147
F.3d 15, 23 (1st Cir. 2014) (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted). "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). Given the
nature of the identified jurisdictional deficiencies below,
amendment would be futile.
Court is without subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the
functional equivalent of an appeal from a state judgment.
Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal
district court lacks jurisdiction over a final judgment of a
state court. See Geiger v. Foley Hoag LLP Retirement
Plan, 521 F.3d 60, 65 (1st Cir. 2008). In other words,
the doctrine "bars parties who lost in state court from
'seeking review and rejection of that judgment' in
federal court.'" Puerto Ricansfor Puerto Rico
Party v. Dalmau, 544 F.3d 58, 68 (1st Cir. 2008)
(quoting Exxon Mobile Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 291 (2005)); see also
D.C. Ct. of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983);
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923).
Here, Leslie is seeking review and rejection of a state court
judgment on federal and state constitutional grounds. Such a
challenge must be pursued in the first instance in the state
courts. Where the judgment of the highest state court depends
on a question of federal law, the United States Supreme
Court, and not the District Court, has jurisdiction to review
the judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 1257.
Failure to State a Claim under Section 1983
the Court were able to exercise jurisdiction over this
matter, the complaint would be subject to dismissal for
failure to state a claim. Leslie seeks to vindicate her
federal constitutional rights by bringing this action under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. This statute, which provides that any
"person, " acting under the color of state law, who
"subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured." 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However,
"neither a State nor its officials acting in their
official capacities are 'persons' under § 1983,
" whether the claim is pursued in state or federal
court. Will v. Michigan Dep 't of State Police,491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Similarly, because the Superior Court
is an ...