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Singleton v. Office of Personnel Management

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 23, 2017




         Before the Court is a Notice of Removal (R. Doc. 1) filed by the pro se pauper Plaintiff Glinda Marie Singleton (“Plaintiff”) attempting to remove her suit filed in the 32nd Judicial District Court. In accordance with Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and the consent of the parties, this matter has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for all further proceedings and entry of judgment. Upon review, the Court has determined that the Notice of Removal is frivolous. As such, for the following reasons, the instant case, Civil Action No. 16-16364, is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.


         The Plaintiff filed her notice of removal on November 14, 2016, which was docketed in this District Court as Singleton v. Office of Personnel Management, Civ. No. 16-16364. (R. Doc. 1). The Notice of Removal purports to remove from the 32nd Judicial District Court for Terrebonne Parish the Plaintiff's suit she filed against: the Office of Personnel Management; Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Pauline Campbell, Director of Equal Rights at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”); Willisa Donald, Director of the Office of Equal Rights; John White, Director at National Finance Center, Department of Agriculture; and Washington D.C.. R. Doc. 1-1, p. 2. In her original complaint filed in state court, the Plaintiff filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) alleging racial and gender based discrimination while she was employed with FEMA. Id. She alleges that she faced racial and sexual harassment during her employment and that nothing was done to remedy the situation. Id. After receiving her notice of her right to sue, the Plaintiff filed the suit in the state court seeking an injunction ordering the City to provide sufficient remedial relief to make her whole, adopt and modify existing policies governing racial and sexual harassment, to provide adequate training to employees regarding racial and sexual harassment, and to take other appropriate measures to overcome effects of discrimination. Id. at p. 3. She also seeks an award of compensatory damages. Id. at p. 4. On November 29, 2016, the Court granted leave to the Plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis. R. Doc. 4.

         Prior to the Plaintiff's filing a Notice of Removal, on October 6, 2016, Defendants FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Personnel Management, and the National Finance Center filed a notice of removal, removing the Plaintiff's same state court action from the 32nd Judicial District Court. Singleton v. Office of Personnel Management, Civ. No. 16-15333, R. Doc. 1. This case was docketed separately from the following notice of removal, although both cases attempted to remove the same underlying state court case. On November 30, 2016, both cases were consolidated. R. Doc. 7. On January 5, 2017, the case was referred to the Magistrate Judge by consent of the parties under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). R. Doc. 8.

         At this time, the Court has conducted a review of the Plaintiff's notice of removal. Because the Plaintiff's removal is improper and because the underlying state court case has already been removed, the undersigned orders dismissal without prejudice for the reasons discussed supra.

         II.Standard of Review

         “[A] District Court may dismiss without prejudice a pro se litigant's complaint if it is frivolous or malicious.” Harris v. United States Dept. of Justice, 680 F.2d 1109, 1111 (5th Cir.1982) (citing Mitchell v. Beaubouef, 581 F.2d 412, 416 (5th Cir. 1978)). As the Fifth Circuit in Harris explained:

The two stage procedure that has been adopted in this Circuit for processing prisoner pro se complaints filed in forma pauperis has full application in the present context for it gives adequate protection to those not represented by attorneys and comports with the explicit provisions of 28 U.S.C. [§] 1915. The District Court first decides whether the litigant meets the economic requirements to proceed in forma pauperis. Then, pursuant to [§] 1915[(e)(2)], the Court may dismiss the complaint if, upon giving it the liberal reading traditionally granted pro se complaints, it determines that it is unmeritorious, frivolous or malicious.

680 F.2d at 1111 (internal citations omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see also Phillips v . City of Dallas, 2015 WL 233336, at *4 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 14, 2015) (noting that “a district court may summarily dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it concludes that the action” is frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim).

         The Court has broad discretion in determining the frivolous nature of the complaint. See Cay v. Estelle, 789 F.2d 318 (5th Cir. 1986), modified on other grounds, Booker v. Koonce, 2 F.3d 114 (5th Cir. 1993). However, the Court may not sua sponte dismiss an action merely because of questionable legal theories or unlikely factual allegations in the complaint.

         A claim is frivolous only when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Talib v. Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir. 1998). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an undisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint alleges the violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist. Harper v. Showers, 174 F.3d 716, 718 (5th Cir. 1999). It lacks an arguable factual basis only if the facts alleged are "clearly baseless, " a category encompassing fanciful, fantastic, and delusional allegations. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992); Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28. Therefore, the Court must determine whether the plaintiffs' claims are based on an undisputably meritless legal theory or clearly baseless factual allegations. Reeves v. Collins, 27 F.3d 174, 176 (5th Cir. 1994); see Jackson v. Vannoy, 49 F.3d 175, 176-77 (5th Cir. 1995); Moore v. Mabus, 976 F.2d 268, 269 (5th Cir. 1992).

         III. Analysis

         Before the Court is a veritable Gideon's Knot. On October 6, 2016, a number of the Defendants removed the Plaintiff's underlying state court claim. Singleton v. Office of Personnel Management, Civ. No. 15-15333, R. Doc. 1. Subsequently, possibly out of confusion inherent in the legal complexities of Federal Procedure, the Plaintiff also filed a Notice of Removal in the instant case. R. Doc. 1. This series of events creates a seemingly challenging puzzle for the ...

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