United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Jersey citizen Rumpa Banerjee filed a pro se
complaint asking us to order Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia ("CHOP") to release her teenage son
A.C. being treated for serious injuries while her lawyers are
simultaneously litigating these state law issues in the
Pennsylvania appellate courts. It is impossible to not
understand Ms. Banerjee's need to protect her son in
every possible forum. But a federal district court cannot
stop or interfere with ongoing state court proceedings based
on Pennsylvania state law claims. We are not an appellate
court to review an orphans' court order allowing a
hospital to stop life support systems especially when Ms.
Banerjee's lawyers are challenging these issues in the
Pennsylvania appellate courts. While Ms. Banerjee may proceed
in forma pauperis based on her sworn statement and
she arguably pleads diversity subject matter jurisdiction, we
must dismiss her pro se complaint for failing to
state a claim under long-established principles of comity.
Facts in the pro se complaint and noticed from the
Pennsylvania court dockets.
admitted A.C. on April 15, 2018. CHOP declared him
"brain dead" on April 26, 2018. Since then, his
mother Rumpa Banerjee has been trying to transfer A.C. to a
New Jersey facility. CHOP'S records confirm, at least as
of mid-May 2018, she had not persuaded one of her preferred
New Jersey facilities to accept A.C. as a patient.
point after April 15, 2018, Ms. Banerjee and her lawyer
sought an injunction to ensure continuing life sustaining
treatment in the Orphans' Court division of the
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. As this matter is sealed
in Orphans' Court, we are unable to find out more
information concerning Ms. Banerjee's efforts in the
Pennsylvania trial courts.
access to Pennsylvania appellate court dockets. On May 24,
2018, the Orphans' Court in Philadelphia dissolved a
special injunction which had restrained CHOP from removing
life sustaining measures for Ms. Banerjee's son. Ms.
Banerjee immediately appealed through counsel and the
Pennsylvania Superior Court stayed CHOP from proceeding with
ending life sustaining measures. The Pennsylvania Superior
Court ordered Ms. Banerjee to notify it, on or before June 1,
2018, as to possible arrangements to transfer her son to
another medical facility. On June 4, 2018, the Pennsylvania
Superior Court remanded the matter to the Orphans' Court
to determine if the stay should be extended for the limited
purpose of Ms. Banerjee securing an alternate placement for
her son. On June 14, 2018, the Orphans' Court issued a
ruling not provided to us - and not available on public
dockets as a sealed matter. On June 18, 2018, the
Pennsylvania Superior Court denied Ms. Banerjee's
petition for stay and directed its June 4, 2018 stay would
expire at 5:00 P.M. on June 20, 2018. Ms. Banerjee, through
counsel, filed an emergency application with the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court. Late on June 19, 2018, the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court stayed the Superior Court's June 18, 2018
Order and essentially imposed a stay until further order of
the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
19, 2018, while her counsel filed papers with the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ms. Banerjee pro se sued
CHOP in the District of New Jersey. After a hearing, the
district court dismissed Ms. Banerjee's complaint noting
Ms. Banerjee may file in this District. A short time later,
Ms. Banerjee pro se sued CHOP in this District
detailing the facts "[m]y child life support system is
about to be pulled off. He is a New Jersey Resident and He is
kept as hostage and trying to pull off the life support
system" [sic] and seeking an order to "[t]ake
my child out of CHOP... Hospital that refused transfer can
take him [listing four hospitals]." In her
"arbitration certification" form attached to her
pro se complaint, Ms. Banerjee writes "Relief
other than monetary damages is sought from taking off his
life support system and stick to the other date of July
24th" [sic]. We read her present request for
relief as seeking a transfer of her son from CHOP to
alternative placement - similar to the relief discussed with
the Orphans' Court - or to do so by July 24, 2018. We are
not aware of whether Ms. Banerjee served CHOP with process.
We grant Ms. Banerjee leave to proceed in forma
grant Ms. Banerjee leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because she swears she is not able to pay the
fees necessary to commence this action. We are aware she has
counsel in the Pennsylvania appellate courts but have no
reason to dispute her sworn statement.
We dismiss Ms. Banerjee's action because does not plead a
in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), requires we dismiss
the Complaint for which we have granted in forma
pauperis status if the plaintiff obtaining the benefit
of waived filing fees 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),  which requires we determine whether the
complaint contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face." Conclusory statements and naked assertions
will not suffice. As Ms. Banerjee is proceeding pro
se, we construe her allegations
Banerjee does not identify a legal claim. She seeks relief
which is arguably before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. She
does not plead either a federal or state law claim. Ms.
Banerjee does not plead a federal question. We have no basis
to find CHOP is a state actor for possible civil rights
claims under the First or Fourteenth
Amendments. We have no basis to otherwise invoke
federal question jurisdiction.
arguably may enjoy subject matter jurisdiction in this
controversy between a New Jersey and Pennsylvania citizen.
But Ms. Banerjee does not plead an amount in controversy.
Absent some pleading of an ...