United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
PETRESE B. TUCKER, J.
Amro Elansari, a litigant who is representing himself
(proceeding pro se) filed this purported class
action against Tinder, based on allegations of fraud. He also
filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis (ECF No. 1). For the following reasons, the
Court will grant Elansari leave to proceed in forma
pauperis and dismiss his Complaint without prejudice.
Complaint is brief. He alleges that Tinder, the dating
application, "sends you notifications saying 7 people
like you subscribe [for] $15 to see who to find out."
(Compl. ECF No. 2 at 6.) However, Elansari suggests that the
notifications are "all fake 3000 miles away."
(Id.) He indicates that the events giving rise to
his claims occurred in January through July of 2018 and in
April and May of 2019. Elansari seeks relief in the amount of
$ 15 per month and punitive damages for each class member.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will grant Elansari leave to proceed in forma
pauperis because it appears that he is not capable of
paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly,
Elansari's Complaint is subject to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), which requires the Court to dismiss a
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. Furthermore,
"[i]f 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 Elansari is
proceeding pro se, the Court construes his
allegations liberally. Higgs v. Atty Gen., 655 F.3d
333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).
Court understands Elansari to be bringing this case pursuant
to the Class Action Fairness Act
("CAFA"). However, "[a]lthough an individual
may represent herself or himself pro se, a non-attorney may
not represent other parties in federal court."
Murray on behalf of Purnell v. City of Philadelphia,
901 F.3d 169, 170 (3d Cir. 2018); see also 28 U.S.C.
§ 1654. Accordingly, Elansari, a pro se
litigant who is not an attorney, may not proceed with this
case as a class action because he may not represent the
interests of other litigants. See Sinclair v. Citi
Mortg., Inc., 519 Fed.Appx. 737, 739 (3d Cir. 2013) (per
curiam) ("[T]he District Court properly declined to
treat the Sinclairs' case as a class action, as 'one
pro se litigant cannot represent another[.]” (quoting
Nocula v. UGS Corp., 520 F.3d 719, 725 (7th Cir.
2008)); Ezekoye v. Ocwen Fed. Bank FSB, 179
Fed.Appx. 111, 113 (3d Cir. 2006) (per curiam) ("[A]
pro se litigant may not represent the interest of a
class in a class action lawsuit."); see also
Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4 Cir. 1975)
("[I]t is plain error to permit [a] litigant who is
unassisted by counsel to represent his fellow [plaintiffs] in
a class action.").
extent Elansari brings a fraud claim against Tinder in his
own right under Pennsylvania law, he has not established a
basis for subject matter jurisdiction over that claim. The
only independent basis for jurisdiction over such a claim 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." Section 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)). "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). "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
(3d Cir. 2017) (citations omitted).
alleges that he is a citizen of Pennsylvania and that Tinder
is a citizen of Texas, which indicates that the parties are
completely diverse. However, the amount in controversy
requirement is not met. Liberally construing the Complaint,
the Court understands Elansari to be claiming that he
subscribed to Tinder during the months of January through
July of 2018, and April through May of 2019. At a rate of $15
per month, Elansari's damages for those nine months would
be $135. Even if Elansari were entitled to an award of
punitive damages, it is clear to a legal certainty that the
amount in controversy does not exceed the jurisdictional
threshold. Accordingly, there is no basis for subject
matter jurisdiction over Elansari's fraud claim.
foregoing reasons, the Court will grant Elansari leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint
without prejudice. He will not be given leave to file an
amended complaint, because he cannot cure the defects
discussed in this Memorandum. However, Elansari may refile
his claims against Tinder in state court. Additionally, if
Elansari retains counsel, he may refile his class action
through counsel in this Court by filing a new case. An
appropriate Order follows.