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Parker v. Butterfield

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

April 9, 2018




         Before me are the Plaintiffs Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (Application) (Doc. 2), as well as the Plaintiffs Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights (Complaint) against Defendants Stacy M. Butterfield, in her official capacity as Polk County Clerk of Court and Comptroller (Clerk Butterfield), and Michael E. Raiden, in his official capacity as Circuit Judge for Florida's Tenth Judicial Circuit (Judge Raiden) (Doc. 1). For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that both the Plaintiffs Application, which I construe as a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, and his Complaint be dismissed without prejudice.


         The Plaintiff is a 26-year-old resident of Mulberry, Florida, with at least a high-school education. (Doc. 2 at 5). At present, he is employed at Max Pak and grosses roughly $1, 900 a month. Id. at 2. He reports expenses totaling $1, 400 a month, including $100 for recreation and entertainment, $150 for his girlfriend's "personal items" and his own "products, " and $390 for a car payment and insurance. (Doc. 2 at 4- 5). Notwithstanding the latter claim of a car expense, the Plaintiff affirmatively declined in his Application to identify any specifics regarding that automobile, including its value. Id. at 3.

         In his Complaint, the Plaintiff seeks relief against the Defendants under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, [1] and the Fourteenth Amendment for "illegal and malice [sic] conduct and activities" occurring from 2013-2015 during all criminal and civil proceedings conducted in the state courthouse in Bartow, Florida. (Doc. 1 at 3-4). In particular, the Plaintiff alleges:

The facts underlying . . . [my] claim is that illegal & malice conduct and activities occurred in the 10th Judicial Circuit courthouse that was clear and elaborate that still goes unaccounted for with no investigation. All illegal alterations caused undue hardship, false incarcerations, false convictions and violations of due process, pain and suffering and punitive losses all with Michael E. Raiden presiding judge. And also protecting an opposing party by spoil [ation of] evidence and hideing [sic] and altering public records.

         (Doc. 1 at 4).

         The Plaintiff requests $12 million in damages as well as the implementation of "strict checks and balances... to enforce accountability amongst court house [sic] officials to ensure public safety." Id. at 5.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, a district court "may authorize the commencement, prosecution, or defense of any suit, action or proceeding, civil or criminal, or appeal therein, without prepayment of fees or security therefor" upon a showing of indigency by affidavit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).

         When an application to proceed in forma pauperis is filed, the district court must review the case and dismiss the complaint sua sponte if it determines the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary . relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Dismissal for failure to state a claim in this context is governed by the same standard as dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Bravo v. Loor-Tuarez, ___ F. App'x ___, 2018 WL 1168356, at *2 (11th Cir. 2018). As such, "[t]o avoid dismissal, the 'complaint must contain sufficient factual matter ... to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Gates v. Khokhar, 884 F.3d 1290, 1296 (11th Cir. 2018) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). "A complaint is plausible on its face when it contains sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. The plausibility standard requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Franklin v. Curry, 738 F.3d 1246, 1251 (11th Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In evaluating a plaintiffs complaint under this standard, the court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jam v. Nunez, 878 F.3d 1268, 1271-72 (11th Cir. 2018). The court, however, affords "no presumption of truth to legal conclusions and recitations of the basic elements of a cause of action." Franklin, 738 F.3d at 1248 n. 1 (citations omitted).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure also provide that a court must dismiss an action "[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Indeed, "[f]ederal courts 'are obligated to inquire into subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be lacking.'" Cadet v. Bulger, 377 F.3d 1173, 1179 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Galindo-Del Valle v. Attorney Gen., 213 F.3d 594, 599 (11th Cir. 2000)).

         Finally, while pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, the courts are not to serve as de facto counsel for pro se litigants, nor are they to "rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading in order to sustain an action." GJR Invs., Inc. v. Cty. of Escambia,132 F.3d 1359, 1369 (11th Cir. 1998), overruled on ...

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