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Adams v. Mutual Savings Life Insurance

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 28, 2019

SANDY ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
MUTUAL SAVINGS LIFE INSURANCE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon review of pro se plaintiff Sandy Adams' second amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

          Under 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 allegation”).

         When 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).

         Background

          Plaintiff 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 filed his amended complaint on April 4, 2019. (Docket No. 6).

         Plaintiff's amended complaint named the Mutual Savings Life Insurance Company as defendant. (Docket No. 6 at 1). He asserted diversity of citizenship as the basis of this Court's jurisdiction, though he failed to assert a jurisdictional amount. (Docket No. 6 at 3).

         In the statement of claim section, plaintiff alleged that in 2018, he did not receive his “socioeconomic death benefits.” (Docket No. 6 at 5). Instead, plaintiff received only “$660 in settlement closing.” Plaintiff stated that his injury consisted of “disappointment (depression).” He did not request any specific relief from the Court.

         On May 8, 2019, the Court ordered plaintiff to file a second amended. (Docket No. 7). In doing so, the Court noted that plaintiff had not established any basis for subject matter jurisdiction. Specifically, though he asserted diversity of citizenship as a jurisdictional basis, he did not allege any amount in controversy. (Docket No. 7 at 5). The Court also noted that plaintiff had failed to state a claim. In filing his second amended complaint, he was directed to provide factual allegations sufficient to give defendant fair notice of the nature and basis for his claim. (Docket No. 7 at 6).

         Plaintiff was given thirty days in which to file a second amended complaint. He duly complied by filing a second amended complaint on May 28, 2019. (Docket No. 9).

         The Second Amended Complaint

          Plaintiff's second amended complaint is on a Court-provided civil complaint form. He names Mutual Savings Life Insurance as defendant. (Docket No. 9 at 2). In the “Basis for Jurisdiction” section of the form, plaintiff appears to assert both federal question and diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. (Docket No. 9 at 3). For federal question jurisdiction, he states: “The policy is already a court case.” For diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, he states that he resides in Alabama, while defendant is a Missouri corporation. (Docket No. 9 at 2, 5). However, as before, he has neglected to assert a jurisdictional amount. (Docket No. 9 at 5).

         In his “Statement of Claim, ” plaintiff alleges that in 2018, he did not “receive the mutual funds correct amount.” (Docket No. 9 at 4). He also states that defendant would not “forward the socioeconomic policy.” This caused plaintiff “disappointment (depression).” The relief he seeks is “help with [his] mutual funds.” Discussion Plaintiff has filed a second amended complaint as directed by the Court. For the ...


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