United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
DEVERE ANDRE HALL, SR.
RICHARD KINGSTON, et al.
Devere Andre Hall Sr. brings this civil action based on
allegations that he was sexually assaulted. For the following
reasons, the Court will dismiss the amended complaint.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Hall, who uses a wheelchair to ambulate, filed his initial
complaint against Richard Kingston, JBJ Soul Homes, and an
entity identified as "Limited Partnership, LLC." He
alleges that in October or November of 2015, he was
approached by three employees of JBJ Soul Homes and that one
of those employees, Mr. Kingston, "reached out and
started feeling on [his] shoulder in a sexual/seductive
manner." (Compl. ¶ III.C.) His complaint listed
"due process, sexual harassment, [and] disabled
discrimination" as the jurisdictional basis for his
claims. (Id. ¶ II.B.)
February 8, 2017 order, the Court granted Mr. Hall leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed his
complaint. The Court concluded that Mr. Hall failed to state
a federal claim against the defendants because nothing in the
complaint established that the defendants were state actors
subject to liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, or
otherwise provided a plausible basis for a federal claim. To
the extent Mr. Hall was raising state tort claims, the Court
concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because
the complaint did not establish that the parties were diverse
or that the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000, so as to
justify jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Hall was given an opportunity to file an amended complaint,
which he did. As with the initial complaint, the amended
complaint is based on one interaction that Mr. Hall had with
Mr. Kingston on the sidewalk. Mr. Hall alleges that Mr.
Kingston, an employee of Project HOME/JBJ Soul Homes, where
Mr. Hall was a resident, "grabbed ... [his] shoulder and
felt on [it] affectionately." (Am. Compl. ¶ III.C.)
Mr. Hall alleges that "this outrageous groping/unwanted
advances leads to sexual harassment as per JBJ Soul
Homes/Project HOME." (Id.) It appears as though
Mr. Hall is claiming that his constitutional rights were
violated, that he was sexually harassed, and that he was
discriminated against. The amended complaint names Mr.
Kingston, JBJ Soul Homes, Project HOME, and "Limited
Partnership LLC" as defendants.He seeks damages in excess of
$75, 000 "for sexual harassment." (Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Hall is proceeding in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires the Court to
dismiss the amended complaint if it fails to state a claim.
To survive dismissal, a complaint must contain
"sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quotations omitted). "[M]ere conclusory statements do
not suffice." Id. As Mr. Hall is proceeding
pro se, the Court construes his allegations
liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333,
339 (3d Cir. 2011). Furthermore, "[i]f the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action."
Hall's amended complaint fails for the same reasons as
his initial complaint. "[A] suit under § 1983
requires the wrongdoers to have violated federal rights of
the plaintiff, and that they did so while acting under color
of state law." Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47
F.3d 628, 638 (3d Cir. 1995)). The amended complaint does not
plausibly allege that the defendants are state actors or set
forth a plausible basis for a constitutional violation. Nor
is any other plausible violation of a federal statute
apparent from the amended complaint.
extent Mr. Hall is raising state tort claims, the Court lacks
jurisdiction. The only possible independent basis for subject
matter jurisdiction is 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), which grants
a district court jurisdiction over a case in which "the
matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs, and is between .. . citizens
of different States." Mr. Hall alleges that he is a
citizen of Pennsylvania. He indicates that the defendants are
citizens of New Jersey, but he has not provided any facts to
support that allegation and, although not conclusive, he has
provided only Philadelphia addresses for all of the
defendants. The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that
Project HOME "is a Pennsylvania non-profit
corporation" with its main office at 1415 Fairmount
Avenue in Philadelphia. United States v. City of
Phila., 838 F.Supp. 223, 224 (E.D. Pa. 1993),
aff'd without opinion, 30 F.3d 1488 (3d Cir.
1994); see also Fed. R. Evid. 201; Pennsylvania
Department of State, Charities Online Database
(last accessed Mar. 29, 2017) (search for Project H.O.M.E.).
Project Home runs JBJ Soul Homes, a facility located in
Philadelphia. As it is apparent that at least two of the
defendants are citizens of Pennsylvania, see 28
U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1) ("[A] corporation shall be
deemed to be a citizen of every State and foreign state by
which it has been incorporated and of the State or foreign
state where it has its principal place of business."),
the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the
parties are not completely diverse.
foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the amended
complaint. Mr. Hall will not be given leave to amend because
he cannot cure the defects noted above. See Grayson v.
Mayview State Hosp.,293 F.3d 103, 114 (3d ...