United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
JASON L. BROWN Plaintiff,
PROGRESSIVE SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY MICHAEL J. DOUGHERTY (ATTORNEY), Defendants.
Jason Brown believes that defendants Progressive Specialty
Insurance Company ("Progressive") and its attorney
Michael J. Dougherty improperly sued him in state court. He
seeks to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil
action. For the following reasons, the Court will grant
plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter
to the complaint reflect that Dougherty filed a complaint on
behalf of Progressive in the Philadelphia Municipal Court
against plaintiff based on a car accident that occurred on
September 29, 2015. Progressive's complaint alleges that
plaintiff caused a car accident that resulted in $4, 467.46
in damage to an individual insured by Progressive.
initiated the instant civil action based on allegations that
the defendants "engaged its business purposes into
attempts of fraud and swindles." (Compl. at 3, ¶
III.C.) He adds that his "public safety is being
violated through abuse and fraud" and claims that the
defendants have invaded his privacy. He seeks $500, 000 in
STANDARD OF REVIEW
is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis
because it appears that he is unable to pay the costs of
filing suit. As plaintiff is proceeding in forma
pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies,
which requires the Court to dismiss the complaint if it fails
to state a claim. Whether a complaint fails to state a claim
under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same
standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), see Tourscher v.
McCullough, 184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999), which
requires the Court to determine whether the complaint
contains "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). As plaintiff is proceeding
pro se, the Court must construe 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."
appears that plaintiff is trying to bring claims based on
federal criminal statutes that he cited in his complaint as
well as various constitutional provisions. However, federal
criminal statutes generally do not provide a basis for civil
liability. See Cent. Bank of Denver, N.A. v. First
Interstate Bank of Denver, N.A., 511 U.S. 164, 190
(1994) ("We have been quite reluctant to infer a private
right of action from a criminal prohibition alone[.]").
In other words, plaintiff may not pursue claims based on
alleged federal criminal violations in this civil action.
extent plaintiff intended to bring constitutional claims
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, those claims also fail.
"[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). Here, it is clear from the complaint that the
defendants are private actors-an insurance company and its
attorney-rather than officials of state government.
Additionally, nothing in the complaint sets forth any
reasonable basis for concluding that plaintiffs
constitutional rights were violated.
extent plaintiff is raising claims under state law, 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." Here, the complaint reflects that the
parties are not completely diverse because plaintiff and at
least one of the defendants-Michael Dougherty-appear to be
citizens of Pennsylvania. Accordingly, there is no basis for
jurisdiction over plaintiffs state law claims. If plaintiff
seeks to pursue those claims, he should proceed in state
foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss plaintiffs
complaint without prejudice to him refiling his state law
claims in state court. Plaintiff will not be given leave to
file an amended complaint because he cannot cure the defects
noted above. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293