United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge
have filed this action against their landlord arising from
allegedly poor conditions at their apartment as well as the
landlord's failure to pay them for shoveling snow. I will
dismiss the complaint for lack of federal jurisdiction and
without prejudice to plaintiffs' right to seek
appropriate relief in the state courts of Connecticut.
11, 2018, plaintiffs Khadijah and Anas Abubakari filed this
pro se action seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for what they describe as a “landlord and
tenant matter.” Doc. #1 at 3. They claim that “we
lived in an uninhabitable conditions at the previous landlord
apartment, ” that “the complex was a drug
infested area, ” and that there were “dry rotted
walls and [a] mold[y] apartment.” Ibid. They
complain that “we had a female tenant on top of us, who
was rudely and intentionally letting her toilet and sink
water flow into our apartments.” Id. at 4. In
addition, they complain that “we did ha[ve] [an]
agreement with the landlord to shovel snow for him for
payment, [but] after we vaca[ted] the apartment, our money
was never giv[en] to us.” Ibid. They seek the
return of their security deposit, unpaid wages for snow
removal, a refund of expenses due to water damages, their
travel expenses, reimbursement for time spent on preparation
of paper work, and damages for pain and suffering.
Id. at 5. Plaintiffs move for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis and for the appointment of
Court has authority to review and dismiss an in forma
pauperis complaint if it “fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted.” See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). When the plaintiff happens to be a
pro se litigant, the Court must afford the complaint
a liberal construction and interpret it to raise the
strongest grounds for relief that its allegations suggest.
See, e.g., Sykes v. Bank of America., 723
F.3d 399, 403 (2d Cir. 2013). Still, even a pro se
complaint may not survive dismissal if its factual
allegations do not establish plausible grounds for the
Court's exercise of jurisdiction as well as for the grant
of relief. See, e.g., Fowlkes v. Ironworkers
Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015); Lapaglia
v. Transamerica Cas. Ins. Co., 155 F.Supp.3d 153, 155-56
(D. Conn. 2016).
It is a
very basic principle of law that federal courts like this
Court are courts of limited jurisdiction. See generally
Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013). In general,
federal courts have so-called “federal question”
jurisdiction over any claims that arise under federal law.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Federal courts also have
so-called “diversity” jurisdiction over claims
that arise under state law if the parties are citizens of
different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Although there are
additional grounds for a federal court to have jurisdiction
(such as over lawsuits against federal officials or admiralty
claims), the vast majority of claims that find their way for
resolution in a federal courts involve “federal
question” or “diversity” jurisdiction.
as I can tell, the complaint here does not allege facts that
give rise to any kind of claim over which this Court has
jurisdiction. Landlord-tenant disputes are ordinarily
governed by state law, not federal law. True enough, the
complaint here cites a venerable federal civil rights law, 42
U.S.C. § 1983, which affords a federal law cause of
action for a person whose federal rights under the
Constitution have been violated by a person acting under
color of state law. But no facts in the complaint suggest
that defendant acted under color of law—that is, that
the defendant as plaintiffs' landlord was acting in any
manner in the capacity of or in concert with any public
official or government employee. See Betts v.
Shearman, 751 F.3d 78, 84 (2d Cir. 2014). There is no
basis here for federal question jurisdiction.
there any basis for federal diversity jurisdiction. Because
the complaint identifies addresses for all of the parties
that are within the State of Connecticut, there is no
conceivable basis for federal diversity jurisdiction in this
case. See Ally v. Sukkar, 128 Fed.Appx. 194, 195 (2d
Cir. 2005) (affirming dismissal of landlord-tenant dispute
for lack of federal jurisdiction).
reasons set forth above, the complaint is DISMISSED without
prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) for
failure to allege any facts that plausibly give rise to
grounds for the exercise of federal jurisdiction in this
case. This order of dismissal is without prejudice to
plaintiffs' right to seek any relief in the state courts
of Connecticut. Plaintiffs' motion for leave to proceed
in forma ...