United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Dewann Bulls ("plaintiff'), pro se, filed
an "Application to Proceed in District Court Without
Prepaying Fees or Costs," (ECF No. 1), with an attached
complaint that names as defendant the "FBI"
("defendant"), otherwise known as the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.
seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis based upon
a showing of indigence. Gray v. Martinez, 352
Fed.Appx. 656, 658 (3d Cir. 2009) (indicating that in
"this Circuit, ... if [the court] is convinced that
[plaintiff] is unable to pay the court costs and filing fees,
the court will grant leave to proceed in forma pauperis .
. . [and] thereafter considers the separate question
whether the complaint should be dismissed."). Pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), prior to ordering service of the
complaint without payment of the filing fee, however, the
court must dismiss the case if it determines that the action
is "frivolous or malicious," 28 U.S.C. §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(i), or "fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted," 28 U.S.C. §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(ii). Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192,
195 (3d Cir. 1990) ("[T]he appropriate time to make a
decision to dismiss a case pursuant to § 1915 is before
service of a complaint."). Additionally, under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), "[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).
purpose of the in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915, is to assure equal and meaningful access to the
courts for indigent litigants. Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 324, 329 (1989). Congress also provided in the
in forma pauperis statute for dismissal of
complaints under certain circumstances in order to
"prevent abusive or captious litigation" that could
result because a plaintiff proceeding in forma
pauperis does not have the economic incentive ordinarily
created by otherwise required filing fees and costs to
refrain from filing frivolous, malicious or repetitive
lawsuits. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 324.
complaint filed pursuant to the in forma pauperis
statute is subject to preservice dismissal under §
l9l5(e)(2)(B)(i) where it is based upon indisputably
meritless legal theory or factual assertions that are clearly
baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. In determining
whether the factual assertions are clearly baseless, and the
complaint therefore is frivolous, the court may pierce the
veil of the complaint and need not accept its allegations as
true. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).
Examples of baseless claims include "claims describing
fantastic or delusional scenarios, claims with which federal
district judges are all too familiar." Neitzke,
490 U.S. at 328. Additionally, as provided for expressly by
§ l9l5(e)(2)(ii), the court must dismiss the complaint
preservice if it fails to state a claim on which relief can
be granted, applying the same standard for dismissing a claim
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Scheib v.
Butcher, Civ. Act. No. 14-cv-1247, 2014 WL 4851902, at *
1 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 25, 2014).
statement in the complaint of plaintiff s claim against
defendant alleges that:
-he found an eavesdropping device, i.e, a camera with audio
and visual recording capabilities, hidden by defendant in his
residence in an electrical outlet in his bathroom;
- the installation of the device in his bathroom was an
unreasonable search in violation of his rights guaranteed by
the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution;
- he is seeking punitive damages of two million dollars; and
- he is seeking damages for humiliation of 6.5 million
(ECF No. 1-1 at 6-8.) Plaintiff also filed with the court as
exhibits in support of his complaint photographs of an
outlet, an item he purports to be the eavesdropping device
installed in his bathroom outlet, and other eavesdropping
devices he found in other rooms of his home. (ECF Nos. 1-3
review of the complaint, and giving it the most liberal
construction, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89
(2007), the court determines it fails to state a claim. The
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in affirming the
dismissal of claims brought against the FBI in Smith v.
Luzerne County FBI Agency, 517 Fed.Appx. 65 (3d Cir.
Smith's complaint fails to state a cause of action to the
extent that Smith intended to bring a suit against the FBI.
"Absent a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the Federal
Government and its agencies from suit." FDIC v.
Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475, 114 S.Ct. 996, 127 L.Ed.2d 308
(1994) (citations omitted). Here, there are no allegations
that the United States waived immunity. Therefore, Smith has
not stated a viable claim against the defendant.
517 Fed.Appx. at 66-67. Plaintiff provided no allegations
that the United States waived immunity and, therefore, the
complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Additionally, the court determines that the allegations are
fantastic and delusional, and thus baseless, Neitzke
490 U.S. at 328, and will dismiss the complaint as frivolous
upon dismissing a complaint a court must grant plaintiff the
opportunity to amend, if amendment can cure the deficiencies
in the complaint. Where, however, amendment cannot cure the
deficiencies, amendment would be futile and the court may
dismiss the complaint without leave to amend. Grayson v.
Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 112-113 (3d Cir.
2002) ("[Dismissals of frivolous claims do not require
leave to amend."). The court determines that there are
no additional facts plaintiff could plead that would overcome
the deficiencies in his complaint. Accordingly, the court
will dismiss the complaint with prejudice and without leave