United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
I. QUINONES ALEJANDRO, J.
Thema Johnson ("Johnson"), proceeding pro
se, has filed this civil action against Aldi Inc.,
"Cannon Cochran Management Sue. Inc. (CCMSI)," and
"Kyle Golden and Its Agents & Attorney." (ECF
No. 2.) She has also filed a motion for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1.) For the reasons set
forth, this Court will grant Johnson leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and will dismiss her Complaint.
complaint, Johnson alleges that on July 29, 2017, she was
patronizing the Aldi grocery store in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
(Compl. at 5.) She "opened the fridge to get some
eggs or milk" and felt the door scrape over "the
big toe on [her] right foot." (Id.) The toe was
"cracked and bleeding." (Id.) Johnson
reported the incident to an employee, and a Customer
Statement Report was prepared. (Id.) She was advised
that she "would receive a call or contact from an Aldi
Inc. representative." (Id. at 2.) Exhibits
attached to Johnson's Complaint show that she visited the
emergency room at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital on July 29, 2017.
(Id. at 6-9.) She was diagnosed with a laceration
and received a tetanus shot. (Id.) Johnson alleges
that her hospital bill amounted to $1, 484.50. (Id.
at 2, 9.)
August 1, 2017, Johnson received a notice from Kyle Golden, a
Claims Representative for CCMSI, and the third-party claims
administrator for Aldi, Inc. (Id. at 2, 4.) The
notice indicated that CCMSI had received notice of the
incident that took place on July 29, 2017. (Id. at
4.) Golden stated that he had been "assigned to handle
the matter" and that an investigation would be
mid-October of 2017, Johnson contacted Golden about the
status of the investigation. (Id. at 2.) He
"advised [her] the investigation was still ongoing and a
determination was not reached as of then and he would contact
[her] directly as soon as it was available."
(Id. at 2-3.) Golden contacted her "at a later
date with a two hundred dollar financial payment."
(Id. at 3.) Johnson contends that "[a]s of
today, July 27, 2018 the offer does not satisfy [her] billing
medical expenses, pain or suffering." (Id.) She
states that she is "seeking the assistance of the
Federal Government to challenge the actions taken and
determin[e] if punitive damages and/or monetary relief may be
awarded in the amount of five thousand dollars plus legal
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Johnson leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that she is not capable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly,
Johnson's Complaint is subject to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), 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). "[M]ere conclusory
statements do not suffice." Id. Moreover,
"if 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). As Johnson is proceeding
pro se, the Court construes her allegations
liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333,
339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Johnson's Complaint is construed as raising state law
personal injury claims against Defendants. The only basis for
the Court to exercise subject-matter jurisdiction over such
claims is pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), which grants
a district court jurisdiction over "all civil actions
where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . .
. citizens of different States." As discussed below,
Johnson's Complaint fails to establish that diversity
1332(a) requires '"complete diversity between all
plaintiffs and all defendants,' even though only minimal
diversity is constitutionally required. This means that,
unless there is some other basis for jurisdiction, 'no
plaintiff [may] be a citizen of the same state as any
defendant.'" Lincoln Ben. Life Co. v. AEI Life,
LLC, 800 F.3d 99, 104 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting
Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005)
and Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d
412, 419 (3d Cir. 2010) (internal footnotes omitted)). An
individual is a citizen of the state where he is domiciled,
meaning the state where he is physically present and intends
to remain. See Washington v. Hovensa LLC, 652 F.3d
340, 344 (3d Cir. 2011). Here, Johnson's Complaint
alleges that she is a citizen of Pennsylvania. (Compl. at 1.)
With respect to the Defendants, Johnson only states that
Aldi, Inc. is a resident of Philadelphia, but fails to allege
where Aldi, Inc. was incorporated and where it has its
principal place of business. See 28 U.S.C. §
1332(c)(1). She also fails to provide any information
regarding the citizenship CCMSI and "Kyle Golden and Its
Agents & Attorney," as well as the business form of
CCMSI, which is necessary for determining its citizenship.
See, e.g., id; Lincoln Ben. Life Co. v. AEJ Life,
LLC, 800 F.3d 99, 107 (3d Cir. 2015) (a plaintiff may
allege that an unincorporated association is not a citizen of
plaintiffs state of citizenship as long as plaintiff has
conducted a reasonable investigation into the matter);
Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co., 592 F.3d at 420
("[T]he citizenship of partnerships and other
unincorporated associations is determined by the citizenship
of its partners or members."). Thus, at this time, the
Court cannot determine whether complete diversity exists.
event, the amount in controversy does not appear to exceed
the jurisdictional threshold. "As a general rule, [the
amount in controversy] is determined from the good faith
allegations appearing on the face of the complaint."
Spectacor Mgmt. Grp. v. Brown, 131 F.3d 120, 122 (3d
Cir. 1997). "The sum claimed by the plaintiff controls
if the claim is apparently made in good faith. It must appear
to a legal certainty that the claim is really for less than
the jurisdictional amount to justify dismissal."
Dardovitch v. Haltzman, 190 F.3d 125, 135 (3d Cir.
1999) (quotations omitted). Punitive damages "must
[also] be considered in determining the amount in
controversy." Coulter v. Paul Laurence Dunbar Cmty.
Ctr., 685 Fed.Appx. 161, 165 (3 d Cir. 2017) (citations
the exhibits to Johnson's Complaint indicate that she
incurred medical expenses in the amount of $1, 484.50.
(Compl. at 9; see Id. at 2.) She states that Golden
offered her $200.00, but that this offer did not satisfy her
"billing medical expenses, pain or suffering."
(Id. at 3.) Johnson indicates that she wants to
"determin[e] if punitive damages and/or monetary relief
may be awarded in the amount of five thousand dollars plus
legal fees." (Id.) As a plaintiff proceeding
pro se, Johnson would not be entitled to legal fees.
See Deraffele v. City of Williamsport, 4:14-CV-1849,
2018 WL 3323464, at *2-3 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 16, 2018), Report
and Recommendation adopted by 2018 WL 1805037 (M.D. Pa.
Apr. 17, 2018). Thus, it appears from the face of the
Complaint that Johnson is seeking damages in the amount of
$5, 000.00, far below the requisite amount in controversy for
diversity jurisdiction. Thus, this Court may not exercise
diversity jurisdiction over Johnson's claims. If Johnson
seeks to pursue her claims, she must proceed in state