United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. HAZEL United States District Judge.
19. 2016. the Clerk received for filing the above-captioned
Complaint from pro se Plaintiff Jeannot Lekoba. a resident of
College Park. Maryland. Lekoba sues Francia-Andreas
Oboa-Franek, a resident of Frederick. Maryland, seeking this
Court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332. See ECF No. 1. The complaint is
accompanied by a motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. ECF No. 2. Lekoba's indigency motion shall
Complaint. Lekoba states the following:
"Miss Franeias Andreas Oboa is accusing me of stealing
her credit card and us[ing] it without her permission. Miss
Franeias handed me her credit card and approved all
transaction[s] made. She was fully aware and I have pictures
and text messages mentioning that she gave me her card, she
even text me pictures of her ID and driver's license for
same transaction. Because we are no longer in the
relationship she called the bank and told them that 1 stole
her card. The reason why she handed her card to me it was I
was going to visit my child and take care of some family
issues such as child custody. The amount according to her is
about $2, 000. I do owe her money, but I did not steal from
her. To call the bank lie to them that took her phone sent
the pictures to myself etc. I just want justice. Because of
these accusational 1 have lost the little job 1 was doing as
helper in a moving company. My Boss heard about it and told
me not to come back.
1 at 7. The relief section of the form complaint has been
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). when in forma
pauperis status is granted, "the court shall
dismiss [a| case at any time if the court determines that.. .
the action or appeal-(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii)
fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted: or (iii) seeks monetary' relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief" The statute
permits district courts to independently assess the merits of
in forma pauperis complaints, and "to exclude
suits that have no arguable basis in law or fact."
See Nasim v. Warden. 64 F.3d 951, 954 (4th Cir.
1995); see also Crowley Cutlery Co. v. United
States, 849 F.2d 273. 277 (7th Cir. 1988) (federal
district judge has authority to dismiss a frivolous suit on
his own initiative). This screening authority differentiates
in forma pauperis suits from ordinary civil suits.
Nasim. 64 F.3d at 953-54: see also Eriline Co.
S.A. v. Johnson. 440 F.3d 648. 656 (4th Cir. 2006).
Although $1915 refers to filings by prisoners, numerous
courts have performed a preliminary screening ol non-prisoner
complaints pursuant to that statute. See Michau v.
Charleston Cnty.. S.C. 434 V.3d 725. 727 (4th
Cir. 2006) (applying 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to
preliminary screen a non-prisoner complaint): Fogle v.
Blake. 227 Fed. App"x 542 (8th Cir. July 10. 2007)
(affirming district court's pre-service dismissal of
non-prisoner*s § 1983 complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)): Sirnik v. U.S. Justice
Dep't. No. PWG-16-956. 2016 WL 2930908. at *1 (I).
Md. May 18. 2016) (noting that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
authorizes dismissal of complaints tiled in forma
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). the court must dismiss a plaintiffs
complaint if it fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted. Although a pro se plaintiffs pleadings are liberally
construed, the complaint must contain factual allegations
sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level" and that "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Bell At I.
Corp. v. Twombfyi 550 U.S. 544. 555. 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955
(2007). This "plausibility standard . requires
[plaintiff] to demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that
a defendant has acted unlawfully." Francis
v.j3iacomellU 588 F.3d 186. 193 (4th Cir. 2009)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Indeed, a
plaintiff must articulate facts that, when accepted as true.
demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling him to relief.
may consider subject matter jurisdiction as part of its
initial review of the complaint. See Lovern v.
Edwards. 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999) (noting that
"[d]etermining the question of subject matter
jurisdiction at the outset of the litigation is often the
most efficient procedure"). If subject matter
jurisdiction is lacking in an action before a court, the case
must be dismissed. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3)
("If the court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action."). If necessary, the court has an obligation to
consider its subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte. See
Joseph v. Leavill. 465 F.3d 87, 89 (2d Cir. 2006):
see also Brickwood Contractors, Inc. v. Datanet
Engineering, Inc., 369 F.3d 385. 390 (4th Cir. 2004)
("[Q]uestions of subject-matter jurisdiction may be
raised at any point during the proceedings and may (or. more
precisely, must) be raised sua sponte by the
courts have original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 "of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
the "well-pleaded complaint rule." federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of Plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint. See
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392. 107
S.Ct. 2425 (1987). The Fourth Circuit has observed that
"[t]here is no 'single, precise definition' of
what it means for an action to 'arise under' federal
law."' Verizon Md. Inc. v. Global NAPS.
Inc.. 377 F.3d 355. 362 (4th Cir. 2004) (quoting
Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson. 478
U.S. 804. 808. 106 S.Ct. 3229 (1986)). Indeed:
The Supreme Court has recognized § 1331 jurisdiction in
a variety of cases, such as (1) when a federal right or
immunity forms an essential element of the plaintiffs claim;
(2) when a plaintiffs right to relief depends upon the
construction or application of federal law, and the federal
nature of the claim rests upon a reasonable foundation; (3)
when federal law creates the cause of action: and (4) when
the plaintiffs right to relief necessarily depends on
resolution of a substantial question of federal law.
Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted).
claims that he has been "wrongly" accused of
stealing a credit card, in violation of the False Claims Act
("FCA"). 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq. The
FCA provides a cause of action for fraud committed against
the United States. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah
River Co.. 176 F.3d 776, 784 (4th Cir. 1999). Thus.
Lekoba fails to assert a cause of action under the FCA
sufficient to confer federal question jurisdiction upon this
claim appears grounded in state law. A federal district court
does not sit to review every claim related to alleged
fraudulent or tortious conduct involving non-federal parties.
Instead, it only has authority to review such state-law
claims where there is diversity of citizenship between the
parties. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. diversity
jurisdiction exists when the parties are citizens of
different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000. A party's citizenship is based upon her state of
domicile. See New River Lumber Co. v. Graff. 889
F.2d 1084 (4th Cir. 1989) (noting that, for diversity
purposes, "citizenship is the equivalent of
domicile"). When a party seeks to invoke diversity
jurisdiction under ...