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Grant v. Harris

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

July 31, 2019

WILLIAM LEE GRANT, II, Plaintiff,
v.
GREGORY K. HARRIS, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF and U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [1]

          PHILIP R. LAMMENS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This case is before the Court on pro se Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Upon referral and after review, Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) should be denied and the Complaint (Doc. 1) should be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff William Lee Grant, II filed a complaint against Defendants Gregory K. Harris, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the U.S. Special Operations Command. (Doc. 1). He attempts to assert claims under the Fourth, Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). The motion to proceed in forma pauperis was referred to this Court and the matter is now ripe for review.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was created in the basement of the Pentagon in 1990 to be “The Judge” as to whether the Vietnam War constituted war crimes. He alleges that the Joint Chiefs of Staff placed him in Springfield, IL in 1992 and have been surveilling him and orchestrating certain events that have occurred in his life. For instance, Plaintiff alleges that in 2009 the JCOS and Gregory K. Harris set him up for driving under the influence and then undermined his legal defense. He also complains about being retaliated against for filing a civil rights action in 2012 and being forced to spend seven years as a homosexual.

         The complaint includes several random statements regarding Steve Jobs, Ashton Kutcher, and Tom Hopper, among others. Plaintiff seeks $99 trillion in compensatory and punitive damages.

         Plaintiff includes in the complaint a list of several other federal court cases throughout the United States. A review of those cases reveals that Plaintiff has filed a substantially similar complaint in several other courts, and that each court has dismissed his complaint as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.[2]

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         An individual may be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis if he declares in an affidavit that he “is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). However, before a plaintiff is permitted to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is obligated to review the complaint to determine whether it is frivolous, 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.” Id. § 1915(e)(2). If the complaint is deficient, the Court is required to dismiss the suit sua sponte. Id.

         “A lawsuit is frivolous if the plaintiff's realistic chances of ultimate success are slight.” Clark v. Ga. Pardons and Paroles Bd., 915 F.2d 636, 639 (11th Cir. 1984) (internal citations omitted). The district court may dismiss a complaint under § 1915 on grounds of frivolousness if an affirmative defense would defeat the action. Id. at 640. For example, the absolute immunity of the defendant would justify the dismissal of a claim as frivolous. Id. at 640, n. 2. “When the defense is apparent from the face of a complaint or the court's records, courts need not wait and see if the defense will be asserted in a defensive pleading.” Id. Indeed, “[i]ndigence does not create a constitutional right to the expenditure of public funds and the valuable time of the courts in order to prosecute an action which is totally without merit.” Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984)(citing Collins v. Cundy, 603 F.2d 825, 828 (10th Cir. 1979)).

         In evaluating a complaint under § 1915, a document filed pro se is to be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nonetheless, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 556. While Rule 8(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-8 (2009). A pleading is insufficient if it offers mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         The Eleventh Circuit utilizes a two-pronged approach in its application of the holdings in Iqbal and Twombly. First, “eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions, ” and then, “where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). In applying these principles, the Court can infer “‘obvious alternative explanation[s],' which suggest lawful conduct rather than the unlawful conduct the plaintiff would ask the court to infer.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 682). In short, the law requires something more “than an unadorned the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Further, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and therefore, have an obligation to inquire into their subject matter jurisdiction. See Kirkland v. Midland Mortgage Co., 243 F.3d 1277, 1279-80 (11th Cir. 2001). Parties seeking to invoke the limited jurisdiction of the federal court over a cause of action must show that the underlying claim is based upon either diversity jurisdiction (controversies exceeding $75, 000 between citizens of different states) or the existence of a federal question (i.e., “a civil action arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”) in which a private right of action has been created or is implied by Congressional intent. See 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 1332.

         III. ...


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