United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER, J.
Jesse Lee Keel, III, representing himself and thus,
proceeding pro se, filed this civil action against
the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), Community Legal
Services, and David Wengert. He also listed Tracy T. Heart as
a defendant in the body of his Complaint even though he
failed to identify Tracy Heart in the caption in accordance
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(a). Mr. Keel seeks to
proceed in forma pauper is. For the following
reasons, the Court will grant Mr. Keel leave to proceed
in forma pauper is and dismiss his Complaint for
failure to state a claim but with leave to amend in the event
the short-comings in the Complaint can be cured.
Keel does not provide many facts to support his Complaint. A
letter dated March 7, 2017 from the PHA to Mr. Keel is
attached to the Complaint as an exhibit. The letter states
that the PHA proposed terminating Mr. Keel's housing
choice voucher assistance payments, and that Mr. Keel was
afforded an informal hearing at the PHA to allow him to
contest the proposed termination. It is not clear whether
that hearing occurred and, if so, its outcome. Mr. Keel also
attached to the Complaint a form titled "HIPAA-COMPLIANT
AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE OF INFORMATION," which appears
to have been provided to Mr. Keel by the Federal Community
Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Mr.
Keel apparently signed this form on April 29, 2019.
body of his Complaint, Mr. Keel alleges "[they] used the
wrong recrs [sic] in [their] case [against] me in Court in
1005 1301 [Filbert] Street Court [Honorable] [Judge] Robert
P. [Coleman] and the Citys [sic]." (Compl. ¶
III.C.) He also suggests that he may have been denied housing
and "some more [things] with [his] SSI."
(Id. ¶ III.A.) Mr. Keel suggests the legal
basis for his claims is "the right to [free] housing and
using [his] SSI number wrongly." (Id. ¶
II.B.) He appears to be asking this Court to prosecute his
ex-girlfriend, although it is unclear how that requested
relief relates to his other allegations.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Mr. Keel leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is incapable of
prepaying the fees to commence this civil action.
Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) requires the
Court to dismiss the Complaint if it fails to state a claim.
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). Conclusory
statements and naked assertions will not suffice.
Id. Because proceeding pro se, the Court
construes his allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y
Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a
complaint to contain "a short a plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A
district court may sua sponte dismiss a complaint
that does not comply with Rule 8 if "the complaint is so
confused, ambiguous, vague, or otherwise unintelligible that
its true substance, if any, is well disguised."
Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995)
(quotations omitted). 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."
Fabian v. St. Mary'sMed. Ctr., No. Civ. A.
16-4741, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2017)
Keel's Complaint fails to comply with Rule 8 and does not
state a claim. It is not clear what he is claiming that the
Defendants did or did not do to give rise to a basis for
liability under federal law. In other words, it is not clear
what each Defendant did to harm Mr. Keel in a manner that
violates the law. The Complaint does not "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."
Fabian, 2017 WL 3494219, at *3.
are other reasons this Complaint cannot proceed. The Court
lacks the ability to direct the prosecution of Mr. Keel's
ex-girlfriend. See Godfrey v. Pennsylvania, 525
Fed.Appx. 78, 80 n.l (3d Cir. 2013) (per curiam)
("[T]here is no federal right to require the government
to initiate criminal proceedings." (citing Linda
R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973)));
Mikhail v. Kahn, 991 F.Supp.2d 596, 636 (E.D. Pa.
2014) ("[F]ederal courts lack the power to direct the
filing of criminal charges."), affd, 572
Fed.Appx. 68 (3d Cir. 2014) (per curiam). Secondly, there is
no right to free housing. While the Fair Housing Act
prohibits discriminatory practices in housing, Mr. Keel has
not stated a claim under that statute if that is what he is
trying to do because nothing in his Complaint suggests that
he was discriminated against on an unlawful basis. See
Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. v. Twp. of Mount
Holly, 658 F.3d 375, 381 (3d Cir. 2011) ("The FHA
makes it unlawful to 'refuse to sell or rent... or
otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person
because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or
national origin.'" (quoting 42 U.S.C. §
3604(a)); see also White v. Barbe, No. 18-3301, 2019
WL 1787217, at *2 (3d Cir. Apr. 24, 2019) (affirming
dismissal of pleading alleging Fair Housing Act claims
because a pleading that "consists of vague allegations
of wrongdoing with no factual elaboration, is insufficient to
state a claim").
foregoing reasons, the Court will grant Mr. Keel leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint
for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) as well as Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. The Court will allow Mr. Keel an opportunity
to file an amended complaint in the event he can promptly
provide more facts about his claims in a ...