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Grant v. Ross

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 19, 2018





         For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) grants the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, (2) denies plaintiff's emergency motion; and (3) directs plaintiff to file an amended complaint.


         Plaintiff Marsha Grant (“Grant”), a residential tenant of Highland House Apartments in Randolph, Massachusetts, filed a complaint against two Highland House property managers. See Complaint (“Compl.”), Docket No. 1. The complaint is accompanied by 48 pages of exhibits. Id. With her complaint, Grant filed a one-page emergency motion seeking to have this federal court review the submitted documents and decide whether she must vacate her apartment by the end of December 2018. See Plaintiff's Motion (“Pl.'s Mot.”), Docket No. 3. Grant also filed an Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees and Affidavit. See Docket No. 2.

         Grant seeks to have this federal court “review a housing case that was brought against [plaintiff by Highland House]. Compl. at ¶ III (statement of claim). Grant alleges that she was “taken to court” despite the fact that her lease was due for renewal and the assistant manager accepted Grant's payments. Id. She states that she must leave her apartment by the end of December. Id. She alleges violation of several federal statutes including the Fair Credit Act of 1970. Id.

         Grant seeks relief “due to the stress this has caused” and for defamation of character and false claims. Compl. at ¶ IV (relief). Grant states that she “was publicly embarrassed in state court to due to the false claim” and that this affected her credit score. Id. Although not clearly pled, it appears that Grant sought “a stay of execution from the Quincy District Court” and that she has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Id. at p. 6. Grant seeks to have the defendants held accountable. Id.


         Based upon review of plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the court concludes that plaintiff has demonstrated a lack of funds to prepay the filing fee. The court therefore will grant the motion.


         Where a plaintiff is allowed to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the court “shall dismiss the case . . . if the court determines that - . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted[] or . . . seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915(e). In conducting this review, the court liberally construes the complaint because plaintiff is proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

         Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to review the decisions of the Quincy District Court if the matter is concluded. Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal district courts lack jurisdiction over “federal complaints … [that] essentially invite[] federal courts of first instance to review and reverse unfavorable state-court judgments.” Federacion de Maestros de P.R. v. Junta de Relaciones del Trabajo de P.R., 410 F.3d 17, 20 (1st Cir. 2005). The doctrine applies to “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state- court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., Inc., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). Here, Grant's request for this court to review the state court proceedings improperly seeks, “in effect, an end-run around” state court proceedings that did not go her way. Klimowicz v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co., 907 F.3d 61, 66 (1st Cir. 2018).

         Similarly, to the extent that a proceeding before the Quincy District Court is on-going, the Court will abstain from exercising jurisdiction under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 46 (1971). A federal court must abstain from reaching the merits of a case over which it has jurisdiction “when the requested relief would interfere (1) with an ongoing state judicial proceeding; (2) that implicates an important state interest; and (3) that provides an adequate opportunity for the federal plaintiff to advance his federal constitutional challenge.” Mass. Delivery Ass'n v. Coakley, 671 F.3d 33, 39 (1st Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). Grant's request to interfere with pending state court proceedings implicates all the requirements for Younger abstention. Because there are no applicable exceptions, abstention is mandatory.

         To the extent Grant brings this action pursuant to the “Fair Credit Act, ” the complaint fails to comply with the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must, in compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). At a minimum, the complaint must “give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Calvi v. Knox County, 470 F.3d 422, 430 (1st Cir. 2006) (quoting Educadores Puertorriqueños en Acción v. Hernández, 367 F.3d 61, 66 (1st Cir. 2004)). A complaint fails to state a ...

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