United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge.
Lawrence Darnell Crowder, an Eau Claire, Wisconsin, resident,
has filed this proposed civil action in which he states that
his rights were violated in conjunction with state paternity
or child-support proceedings. The court has already concluded
that plaintiff may proceed in forma pauperis in this
case without prepayment of any portion of the $350 filing
next step is for the court to screen plaintiff's
complaint and dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or asks for monetary damages from a defendant who by
law cannot be sued for money damages. 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
In screening any pro se litigant's complaint, I must read
the allegations of the complaint generously, Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam), and
accept plaintiff's allegations as true, Bonte v. U.S.
Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010).
reviewing plaintiff's complaint with these principles in
mind, I conclude that it must be dismissed for failure to
satisfy the pleading standards of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8. I will give plaintiff an opportunity to correct
names "Kristina Sveum mother" as a defendant, and
also includes two sets of "K.S." initials in the
caption. I am unclear whether plaintiff means to name two
minor children with these initials, or whether the initials
mean something else. Plaintiff includes a state court case
number "1302PA000089" on the caption, as well as
"IVD Case #3201638, " which I take to mean a child
support or paternity case. See Wis. Admin. Code
§ DCF 153.02(1) ("‘IV-D' means part D of
title IV of the social security act of 1975, the federal law
on the child support and establishment of paternity program
(42 USC 651 to 669b)."). Plaintiff alleges as follows:
"They violated my rights for me not being there. They
also violated my right[s by] not giving me a D.N.A. test. The
Judge in Dane County violated my right's also to me it
was too late to take a D.N.A. test." Dkt. 1, at 2.
Plaintiff also states that he is suing for an
"unknown" amount of "paid child support,
" stating, "I want them to give me my money back in
full since 2002 thank you!" Id. at 4.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a complaint to
include "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A
complaint "must be presented with intelligibility
sufficient for a court or opposing party to understand
whether a valid claim is alleged and if so what it is."
Vicom, Inc. v. Harbridge Merchant Servs., Inc., 20
F.3d 771, 775 (7th Cir. 1994).
allegations do not adequately explain what he believes
defendant Sveum (or the named "K.S." defendants)
did to violate his rights. I infer from his allegations and
the fact that he includes state-court paternity and
child-support case numbers in the caption, that he believes
that something went wrong with his state-court proceedings.
He seems to be saying that he wants reimbursement for child
support that he has paid. But without knowing more about the
events at the heart of his complaint, I cannot tell whether
he states any claim for relief.
without knowing exactly what plaintiff is saying defendant
Sveum or anyone else did to violate his rights, I will not
immediately dismiss the case. Instead, I will dismiss his
complaint for violating Rule 8, and give him a chance to file
an amended complaint setting out his claims in short and
plain statements. He should draft his amended complaint as if
he were telling a story to people who know nothing about his
situation or the state-court litigation. In particular,
plaintiff will need to explain how the people he names as
defendants harmed him. Plaintiff alleges that
"they" violated his rights, but it is unclear
whether he means defendant Sveum, court personnel, or someone
else. If plaintiff does not submit an amended complaint by
the deadline set forth below, I will dismiss the case for
plaintiff's failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted.
there is the possibility that, even after plaintiff amends
his complaint, this case will involve only state law claims,
I will also ask plaintiff to show whether this court may
exercise diversity jurisdiction over his claims. This federal
court cannot decide a case involving only state law claims
unless the complaint alleges complete diversity of
citizenship among the parties and an amount in controversy
exceeding $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Based on his
current allegations, it seems likely that both plaintiff and
defendant are citizens of Wisconsin. If this is not the case,
plaintiff should amend his complaint to explain both his and
defendant's citizenship. He should also explain much
money he seeks as damages in this case. Right now, plaintiff
seems to be saying that he is seeking to recover an
"unknown" amount of child support payments he made.
Plaintiff will need to explain roughly how much money he
seeks to recover in this lawsuit.
Plaintiff Lawrence Darnell Crowder's complaint is
DISMISSED for failure to comply with ...