United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
KERIUM ALLEN GARRICK, SR.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al.
Kerium Allen Garrick, Sr. brings this civil action against
the City of Philadelphia and two of its attorneys based on
allegations that he was deprived of his right to a
twelve-person jury in his civil trial in state court.
Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
The Court will grant plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and dismiss his complaint.
initiated a civil rights lawsuit in state court challenging
his arrest, detention, and the conditions of his confinement
during a prior incarceration. According to the Judge who
presided over the case in state court, a twelve-person jury
was selected on Friday, July 7, 2017, but when one juror was
unavailable for trial the following Tuesday, the parties
agreed to continue with a panel of eleven jurors. The
eleven-person jury returned with a verdict in favor of the
alleges that the attorneys for the City and the Judge who
presided over his case erred by allowing the trial to proceed
with only eleven jurors. Based on that allegation, plaintiff
initiated this lawsuit against the City and its attorneys
claiming violations of his state and federal rights, and
seeking millions of dollars in damages. Attachments to the
complaint reflect that less than a month before he initiated
the instant civil action, plaintiff filed a civil action in
state court against the same defendants based on essentially
the same subject matter.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted
because it appears he is not capable of paying the fees to
commence this civil action. Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii) require the Court to dismiss the
complaint if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim. A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact, ” Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), and is legally
baseless if it is “based on an indisputably meritless
legal theory.” Deutsch v. United States, 67
F.3d 1080, 1085 (3d Cir. 1995). “[A] complaint is
malicious where it is abusive of the judicial process and
merely repeats pending or previously litigated claims.”
Day v. Toner, 530 F. App'x 118, 121 (3d Cir.
2013) (per curiam).
survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the 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. The Court
may also consider exhibits attached to the complaint.
Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260
(3d Cir. 2006). As plaintiff 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, “federal
district courts lack jurisdiction over suits that are
essentially appeals from state-court judgments.”
Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild
LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 165 (3d Cir. 2010). Based on that
principle, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives a
federal district court of jurisdiction over “cases
brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused
by state-court judgments rendered before the district court
proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and
rejection of those judgments.” Id. at 166
(quotations omitted). To the extent plaintiff is claiming
that his loss in state court or the state court's rulings
violated his rights, and asks this Court to review and reject
the state court's judgment, his claims fall within the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine and must be dismissed for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
extent plaintiff's claims are not barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court cannot discern a
plausible basis for a claim against the defendants. If
plaintiff is claiming that the defendants violated his
federal constitutional rights by agreeing to an eleven-person
jury in his civil case, he is incorrect because the Seventh
Amendment, which provides for a trial by jury in suits at
common law, “governs proceedings in federal court, but
not in state court.”Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities,
Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 418 (1996). Nor is there any other
basis for concluding that the City or its attorneys somehow
violated plaintiff's constitutional rights by agreeing to
an eleven-person jury. Even assuming the state court
committed legal error in proceeding as it did, that error
does not translate into a cause of action against the City
and its attorneys.
even if plaintiff could articulate a plausible basis for a
claim, the Court concludes that this case should be dismissed
as malicious. It is apparent from attachments to the
complaint that plaintiff initiated an essentially identical
lawsuit against the same defendants in state court less than
a month before he filed this case. Plaintiff should not be
permitted to maintain duplicative lawsuits against the same
defendants at the same time.
foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's
complaint. Plaintiff will not be given leave to amend because
amendment would be futile. An appropriate ...