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Simone Brooks v. Central Dauphin School District

August 31, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas M. Blewitt United States Magistrate Judge

(Judge Jones)

(Magistrate Judge Blewitt)


I. Background.

Plaintiff, Simone Brooks,*fn1 a resident of 4101 Linden Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, filed the instant civil rights action, seemingly pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on August 22, 2011.*fn2 Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2). Plaintiff's claim was set forth on a form civil rights complaint provided by the Court. The Plaintiff's Statement of Claim consists of the following:

My mother Rita Brooks has brought (sic) and purchased the home located at 4101 Linden Street Hbg. Pa. 17109 for the soul (sic) reason for all grandchildren that has Brooks['] blood to never have to be subjected to un-proper (sic) education and/or harm.

My son Kahlil Brooks was harmed in Harrisburg School District. Therefore, my children will not/and cannot attend Hbg. Sch. Dist. Doc. 1, pp. 1-2, Statement of Claim, Section 3.

As relief in her Complaint, Plaintiff requests "an expedited order for my children to start school in Central Dauphin School District for as long as my mother, Rita Brooks, owns the land that my children are [heirs] too (sic). Central Dauphin is the appropriate school district at this time." (Id., p. 2).

Plaintiff names as the sole Defendant the Central Dauphin School District "(CDSD"). As noted, this is Plaintiff's second action against CDSD. In her 3-sentence handwritten attachment to her form Complaint, Plaintiff states that "[CDSD] falls with in the best interest of the children of the Brooks['] family due to the underlaying (sic) circumstances of the improper investigation concerning the child molestation [of her son] that all state agencies are aware of." (Id., p. 3).

Thus, Plaintiff seems to claim that, despite the fact that she lives with her children outside CDSD (i.e. in the Harrisburg School District), since her mother owns a house located in CDSD and since her son Kahlil Brooks was the victim of child molestation while attending school in the Harrisburg School District, her children are entitled to attend school in CDSD. Stated simply, Plaintiff sues Defendant CDSD claiming that her children are entitled to attend school in CDSD where her mother resides even though Plaintiff does not actually reside in that district with her children. Plaintiff appears to seek immediate injunctive relief for this Court to allow her children to enroll and start school for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year at CDSD and, to allow her children to remain at CDSD for as long as her mother owns a house in CDSD. Thus, we construe Plaintiff as requesting this Court to direct CDSD to accept her children into its schools since her mother owns a house in CDSD even though Plaintiff and her children do not actually live in CDSD.

Plaintiff contends that her children should be allowed into schools in CDSD since her son was subjected to molestation in their school district, i.e. Harrisburg School District, and since her children will someday inherit her mother's house located in CDSD. Plaintiff does not indicate if CDSD has a policy of not permitting the admission of nonresident students and if she has unsuccessfully attempted to enroll her children in CDSD. Further, Plaintiff does not state if she exhausted any state remedies which may be available to her.

II. Screening Plaintiff's Complaint.

As stated, Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2 ). Since Plaintiff filed a Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis showing that she is indigent, we will recommend that Plaintiff's Motion be granted. Thus, we are obliged to screen Plaintiff's pleading under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e). In O'Connell v. Sobina, 2008 WL 144199, *3 (W.D. Pa.), the Court stated, "Section 1915(e) (as amended) requires the federal courts to review complaints filed by persons that are proceeding in forma pauperis and to dismiss, at any time, any action that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on 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)."

In Palencar v. Cobler Realty Advisors, Civil No. 09-0325, M.D. Pa., 7-24-09 slip op. pp. 5-6, the Court stated:

Once it has been decided that a plaintiff should be accorded in forma pauperis status, the court then considers whether the complaint may be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Douris v. Huff, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 467, 469 (3d Cir. 2007); see also Douris v. Newtown Borough, Inc. 207 Fed.Appx. 242 (3d Cir. 2006). Section 1915(e)(2) provides:

(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that --

(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or

(B) 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.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This statute "is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of, judicial and private resources upon baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not initiate because of the costs of bringing suit and because of the threat of sanctions for bringing vexatious suits under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989) (stating that "[dismissals on these grounds are often made sua sponte prior to the issuance of process, so as to spare prospective defendants the inconvenience and expense of answering [frivolous] complaints"). While the original statute permitted sua sponte dismissal only if an action was frivolous or malicious, Congress included failure to state a claim and seeking monetary relief from a defendant immune from suit as additional grounds for sua sponte dismissal of in forma pauperis cases. Jones v. Bock, 127 S.Ct. 910, 920, 166 L.Ed.2d 798 (2007); § 1915(e)(2)(B) (2000 ed.); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)( (1994 ed.).

Thus, § 1915(e) obligates the Court to engage in a screening process when a person wishes to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Despite the fact that Plaintiff is not an inmate and is not complaining about prison conditions, § 1915(e)(2) applies to all in forma pauperis complaints, and not just to prisoners. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F3d 103, 110, n. 10 (3d Cir. 2002); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F. 3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000); Williams v. Marino, Civil No. 03-0632, M.D. Pa. January 12, 2004, Memorandum and Order, p. 4.

III. Motion to Dismiss Standards.

1. Rule 12(b)(1) Standard

InJames S. Ex rel. Thelma S. v. Sch. Dist. of Phila., 559 F. Supp. 2d 600, 611 (E. D. Pa. 2008), the Court stated:

"A challenge to a complaint for failure to allege subject matter jurisdiction is known as a facial' challenge, and must not be confused with a 'factual' challenge contending that the court in fact lacks subject matter jurisdiction, no matter what the complaint alleges...." N.E. Hub Partners, L.P. v. CNG Transmission Corp., 239 F.3d 333, 341 n. 7 (3d Cir.2001) (citing Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891; 5A Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 350, at 212-18 (West 1990)). Defendant District's Motion to Dismiss presents a factual challenge.

In assessing a Rule 12(b)(1) motion that presents a factual challenge to a court's jurisdiction, the court is "free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case .... [N]o presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the ...

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