United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. BODENHAUSEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon review of plaintiff Sandy
Adams' pro se amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff will
be directed to file a second amended complaint according to
the instructions set forth herein.
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss
a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. To state a claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate a
plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere
possibility of misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). “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 678. Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw upon judicial experience
and common sense. Id. at 679. The court must
“accept as true the facts alleged, but not legal
conclusions or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.”
Barton v. Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th
Cir. 2016). See also Brown v. Green Tree Servicing
LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 372- 73 (8th Cir. 2016)
(stating that court must accept factual allegations in
complaint as true, but is not required to “accept as
true any legal conclusion couched as a factual
reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the
Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A
“liberal construction” means that if the essence
of an allegation is discernible, the district court should
construe the plaintiff's complaint in a way that permits
his or her claim to be considered within the proper legal
framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787
(8th Cir. 2015). However, even pro se complaints
are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim
for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon,
623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980). See also
Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th
Cir. 2004) (stating that federal courts are not required to
“assume facts that are not alleged, just because an
additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger
complaint”). In addition, affording a pro se complaint
the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that
procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508
U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
filed this pro se civil action on March 12, 2019, naming
Mutual Savings Life Insurance as the defendant. (Docket No.
1). The complaint was on a Court form, but was missing the
statement of claim and contained no factual allegations. The
complaint also failed to include an amount in controversy,
though plaintiff asserted diversity of citizenship as the
basis of the Court's jurisdiction. Due to these defects,
plaintiff was ordered to file an amended complaint. (Docket
No. 5). He duly filed his amended complaint on April 4, 2019.
(Docket No. 6).
amended complaint is on a Court-provided civil complaint form
and names Mutual Savings Life Insurance Company as defendant.
(Docket No. 6 at 1). Plaintiff asserts diversity of
citizenship as the basis of this Court's jurisdiction.
(Docket No. 6 at 3). Once again, however, he fails to provide
a jurisdictional amount.
statement of claim section, plaintiff alleges that in 2018,
he did not receive his “socioeconomic death
benefits.” (Docket No. 6 at 5). Rather, defendant
appears to have sent him only “$660 in settlement
closing.” Plaintiff states that his injury consists of
“disappointment (depression).” He does not
request any specific relief from the Court.
has filed an amended complaint in accordance with the
Court's order of March 25, 2019. However, the amended
complaint is deficient in two respects. First, plaintiff has
not established any basis for this Court's jurisdiction.
Second, his vague and conclusory allegations do not state a
claim. As plaintiff is proceeding pro se, he will be given an
opportunity to file a second amended complaint, according to
the instructions set forth below.
matter jurisdiction refers to a court's power to decide a
certain class of cases. LeMay v. U.S. Postal Serv.,
450 F.3d 797, 799 (8th Cir. 2006). “Federal
courts are not courts of general jurisdiction; they have only
the power that is authorized by Article III of the
Constitution and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant
thereto.” Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch.
Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986). See also Gunn v.
Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013) (“Federal courts
are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only that
power authorized by Constitution and statute”). The
presence of subject matter jurisdiction is a threshold
requirement that must be assured in every federal case.
Kronholm v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 915 F.2d 1171,
1174 (8th Cir. 1990). See also Sanders v.
Clemco Indus., 823 F.2d 214, 216 (8th Cir.
1987) (“The threshold requirement in every federal case
is jurisdiction and we have admonished the district court to