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Grace v. Fox

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 2, 2020

XI EL BEY GRACE, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE IDEE C. FOX, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          GOLDBERG, JUDGE

         Plaintiff Xi El Bey Grace, brings this pro se civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against four individuals identified as Pennsylvania State court judges, the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, the “Tax Revenue Bureau, ” and Chairwoman Nancy Kammerdeiner.[1] She seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Grace leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss her Complaint with prejudice.

         I. FACTS

         Grace alleges that she visited RCS Title A Agency in 2007 with the prior owner of her real property. (ECF No. 2 at 3.)[2] She was told by an agent of RCS that there were no delinquencies or encumbrances against the property and that she did not require title insurance. (Id.) The title agent prepared a deed reflecting Grace's ownership of the property and Grace filed the deed in the Philadelphia Department of Records and Deeds. (Id.) Approximately three months later, Grace began receiving delinquency notices for unpaid taxes and water bills. (Id.) When she asked about the bills, she was told that delinquencies stay with the property. (Id.) According to the Complaint, Grace was deceived by the prior owner and believed that there were no outstanding debts associated with the property when she purchased it. (Id. at 4.)

         In an exhibit filed after her Complaint, Grace includes pre-2007 tax assessment documents reflecting delinquencies and efforts by the City to recover the delinquencies from Clarence Mason. (ECF No. 5 at 1-20, 23-27.) She also includes her own recent real estate tax billing information, showing delinquencies in 2016, 2017 and 2018, (id. at 21), and in 2011 (id. at 22.) Grace does not provide sufficient information to establish when these delinquencies accrued.

         On an unidentified date, the City commenced foreclosure proceedings for unpaid tax and water bills.[3] (ECF No. 2 at 4.) According to the Complaint, Judge Idee Fox ruled against Grace- presumably in the foreclosure action-in June 2011, Judge Paula Patrick ruled against Grace in December 2018, Judge Robert Simpson ruled against Grace in January 2019, and Judge Patricia Johnson[4] ruled against Grace on September 23, 2019. (Id.) Grace refers to the “Chairwoman at the Tax Revenue Board” in this section of her Complaint, but does not identify any action undertaken by that individual. (See id.)

         Grace alleges that the City is at fault for recording her deed if the title was not free and clear, that the prior owner settled his debts with the City before Grace purchased the property, and that she has given the City accord and satisfaction and the City has cashed the check. (Id.) Nonetheless, she alleges that the City is threatening to sell her property at sheriff's sale. (Id.)

         As a result of the foregoing, Grace alleges that she has suffered mental and psychological distress and experiences fear that the City will take her home. This prevents her from sleeping and has caused weight gain. She has consulted a psychiatrist for her symptoms. (Id. at 5.) As relief, she requests:

[F]or this court to discharge and close this matter with the supposedly debt, clear any and all liens and judgments from this property, and grant me the maximum compensation the law will grant me, I have experienced this unnecessary matter for over the past 13 to 14 years, on a void matter to begin with fraud.

(Id.)

         Grace contends that the conduct described provides a basis for federal question jurisdiction because “the judges had a fiduciary obligation in this case, but failed Xi El Bey, Grace by not upholding their oath to the constitution in protecting Xi El Bey, Grace life, liberty and property.” (Id. at 3.) Elsewhere, she labels her claim as one arising under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1986 for theft by deception, identity fraud, mail fraud and coercion. (Id. at 1.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         I will grant Grace leave to proceed in forma pauperis because it appears that she is incapable of paying the fees to commence this civil action. Accordingly, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) applies, which requires me 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). This standard 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 allegations do not suffice. Id. As Grace is proceeding pro se, the Court construes her allegations liberally. Higgs v. Att'y Gen., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011).

         When allowing a plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis the Court must review the pleadings and dismiss the matter if it determines, inter alia, that the action fails to set forth a proper basis for this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”); Group Against Smog and Pollution, Inc. v. Shenango, Inc., 810 F.3d 116, 122 n.6 (3d Cir. 2016) (explaining that “an objection to subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time [and] a court may raise jurisdictional issues sua sponte”). A plaintiff commencing an action in federal court bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. See Lincoln Ben. Life Co. v. AEI Life, ...


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