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Lewis v. Harrison

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

January 10, 2017




         Plaintiff Lewis brings this action pro se, claiming that LaShunda Harrison conspired with Alice Stapleton and Blondie Adams in an effort to illegally trespass onto Lewis's property and steal $9, 000. Presently before the Court is Defendant Harrison's Motion to Dismiss [16] and Plaintiff's Motion to Deny Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [19]. The Court has construed Plaintiff's Motion to Deny as a Response to Motion to Dismiss in accordance with Local Uniform Civil Rule 7(b)(3).[1] The court has considered all arguments and finds as follows.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Lewis claims that on or before December 27, 2015, LaShunda Harrison met with Alice Stapleton and Blondie Adams at Harrison's home in Cordova, Tennessee. There, they allegedly conspired to steal from Lewis. At the meeting, Stapleton, who is the site manager for Lewis's apartment, allegedly gave Harrison the key to Lewis's apartment. Lewis claims that Harrison then used the key to enter Lewis's apartment to steal a purse containing $9, 000. Plaintiff claims Defendant Harrison transported the stolen money across the Mississippi-Tennessee state line and then returned to Cordova.

         Plaintiff claims that the meeting violated 18 United States Code, Section 241, and the transporting of stolen money violated 18 United States Code, Section 2314. Furthermore, Plaintiff claims that Delta Partner's Manor, Plaintiff's apartment complex, was negligent in their management and supervision of Stapleton. Finally, Plaintiff claims the entire transaction violates his constitutional and civil rights under United States Code, Section 1985(3).

         Defendant Harrison filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that Plaintiff is legally barred from pursuing federal criminal statutes. Furthermore, Defendant Harrison alleges that Plaintiff does not state a claim for which relief may be granted because he did not plead the required elements of his federal claim under 42 U.S.C. 1985(3).

         Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). A claim is plausible if it contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id., 129 S.Ct. 1937.

         Ultimately, the court's task “is to determine whether the plaintiff has stated a legally cognizable claim that is plausible, not to evaluate the plaintiff's likelihood of success.” In re McCoy, 666 F.3d 924, 926 (5th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 192, 184 L.Ed.2d 38 (2012) (citing Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010)). Therefore, the Court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232-33 (5th Cir. 2009). Still, this standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937.

         Analysis and Discussion

         Federal courts have original subject matter jurisdiction only where a question of federal law is involved or where there is diversity of citizenship between parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). The diversity statute requires “complete diversity” of citizenship, i.e., a district court cannot exercise jurisdiction if one of the plaintiffs shares the same state citizenship as one of the defendants. 28 U.S.C. § 1332; see also Whalen v. Carter, 954 F.2d 1087, 1094 (5th Cir. 1992). The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction rests on the plaintiff. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001).

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff is a resident of Shelby, Mississippi, and Defendants Stapleton, Adams, and Delta Partner's Manner are also residents of Shelby, Mississippi. Having found that this action involves non-diverse parties, the Court notes that there is not complete diversity.

         Plaintiff's first federal claim seeks recovery under 18 U.S.C. § 241. This criminal statute provides penalties for either preventing or entering into a conspiracy to prevent other persons from exercising certain federally protected rights. However, 18 U.S.C. § 241 does not provide a basis for civil liability. See Hanna v. Home Ins. Co., 281 F.2d 298, 303 (5th Cir. 1960); Ali v. Shabazz, 8 F.3d 22 (5th Cir. 1993). Plaintiff's second claim seeks recovery under 18 U.S.C. § 2314, which is a criminal statute relating to “transportation of stolen goods, ” inter alia. This criminal statute does not provide a private federal right of action for civil liability, either. See Crawford v. Adair, No. 3:08CV281, 2008 WL 2952488, at *2 (E.D. Va. July 29, 2008) (no private federal cause of action under § 2314); Piorkowski v. Parziale, No. 3:02CV00963, 2003 WL 21037353, at *8 (D. Conn. May 7, 2003) (criminal statute does not provide, explicitly or implicitly, a civil cause of action); Cooper v. N. Jersey Trust Co. of Ridgewood, N. J., 250 F.Supp. 237 (S.D.N.Y. 1965) (18 U.S.C. Section 2314 does not give rise to a private federal right of action). Further, decisions whether to prosecute or file criminal charges are generally within the prosecutor's discretion, and, as a private citizen, Plaintiff has no standing to institute a federal criminal prosecution and no power to enforce a criminal statute. See Gill v. State of Texas, 153 F.App'x 261, 262-63 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619, 93 S.Ct. 1146, 35 L.Ed.2d 536 (1973)). Without standing, Plaintiff fails to establish a vital jurisdictional requirement regarding these claims. Bender v. Williamsport Area School Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 546-547, 106 S.Ct. 1326, 1333-1334, 89 L.Ed.2d 501 (1986). Thus, the deficiencies within the complaint regarding these criminal claims are incurable, and Plaintiff's claims under these statutes must be dismissed with prejudice.

         Even if Plaintiff did not establish subject matter jurisdiction regarding the first two claims, Plaintiff poses a third federal claim under 42 U.S.C., Section 1985(3). Though Griffin v. Breckenridge made Section 1985(3) applicable to private actions, the Supreme Court made it clear that Congress did not intend that it be viewed as an all-embracing federal tort law intended to apply to all tortious conspiratorial interferences with the rights of others. Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102-103, 91 S.Ct. 1790, 29 L.Ed.2d 338 (1971). Therefore, Defendant Harrison has alleged that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted regarding this claim. Thus, Defendant asks the court for a dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Specifically, Defendant ...

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