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Wardlaw v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 20, 2018

EXAVIER WARDLAW
v.
THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al

          MEMORANDUM

          KEARNEY, J.

         Exavier Wardlaw pro se sues the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Water Revenue Department, Jane Doe #1, Jane Doe #2, Jane Doe #3, and Jane Cottom. He also moves to proceed in forma pauperis. We grant Mr. Wardlaw leave to proceed in forma pauperis, dismiss his Complaint, and offer leave to amend.

         I. Alleged Facts

         Mr. Wardlaw alleges he met with City employees Jane Doe #1 and her supervisor in May or June 2015[1] to discuss restoring his water service. The City employees told him he would need to hire a plumber to repair pipes in his basement "so that a new water meter could be installed.[2] Mr. Wardlaw contends he "hired a plumber, the work was completed and a new water meter was installed."[3] Jane Doe #1 then informed him "that despite [him] hiring a plumber and a new meter the water service will not be restored."[4] Mr. Wardlaw claims this conduct deprived him of his civil rights.

         Mr. Wardlaw alleges Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 conspired "to intentionally inflict emotional pain and distress upon [him] and [his] family by entering falsehoods in the public record that lie being that [their] home was unoccupied and not noting that [they] have a tax agreement with the City of Philadelphia."[5] He alleges Defendants violated his civil rights based on his race under 42 U.S.C. § 1981.[6] As relief, Mr. Wardlaw asks we order the City Defendants to restore his water services, "unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, " and "the cost for [his] recent hospital stay in the emergency ward."[7]

         II. Analysis

         A. We grant Mr. Wardlaw leave to proceed in forma pauperis

         We will grant Mr. Wardlaw leave to proceed in forma pauperis as it appears he is incapable of paying the fees necessary to commence this action. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) we must dismiss the Complaint if Mr. Wardlaw 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 for motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)[8], which requires us to determine whether the complaint contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[9] Conclusory statements and naked assertions do not suffice.[10] We may also consider matters of public record.[11] As Mr. Wardlaw is proceeding pro se, we construe his allegations liberally.[12]

         Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires Mr. Wardlaw to plead "a short a plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." We may sua sponte dismiss a complaint not complying with Rule 8 if "the complaint is so confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised."[13] Rule 8 "requires that pleadings provide enough information to put a defendant on sufficient notice to prepare their defense and also ensure that the Court is sufficiently informed to determine the issue."[14]

         B. Mr. Wardlaw does not plead a civil rights claim.

         Mr. Wardlaw vaguely alleges the Defendants violated his civil rights based on his race under 42 U.S.C. §1981:

All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.[15]

         To state a claim under § 1981, Mr. Wardlaw "must allege facts in support of the following elements: (1) [that plaintiff] is a member of a racial minority; (2) intent to discriminate on the basis of race by the defendant; and (3) discrimination concerning one or more of the activities enumerated in the statute[, ] which includes the right to make and enforce contracts."[16]Mr. Wardlaw fails to allege he is a member of a racial minority and the Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his race. As pled, he fails to state a claim under § 1981.

         To the extent Mr. Wardlaw alleges civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, he fails to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 and fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Mr. Wardlaw fails to suggest the Defendants' conduct "deprived [Mr. Wardlaw] of rights, privileges, or ...


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