United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
March 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed this action pro se
alleging issues with a deposit at his bank. (Docket #1).
Plaintiff later filed a motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. (Docket #4). In determining whether to
permit a plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis, the
Court must first decide whether the plaintiff has the ability
to pay the filing fee and, if not, whether the lawsuit is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a viable claim for
relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a), (e)(2)(B)(I). On the
first question, Plaintiff avers that he is unemployed and has
no income, and that he incurs approximately $1, 200.00 per
month in expenses. (Docket #4 at 2-3). The Court is perplexed
as to how Plaintiff pays his monthly bills without any
income, and the “other circumstances” portion of
Plaintiff's motion does not elaborate on this issue.
of the Court's misgivings about Plaintiff's financial
state, his request for in forma pauperis status must
be denied because of the frivolity of this action.
Notwithstanding the payment of any filing fee, the Court must
dismiss a complaint if it raises claims that are
“frivolous or malicious, ” which fail to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25,
31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d
895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997). The court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.
“Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a
synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully
construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v.
McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109- 10 (7th Cir. 2003)
state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading
system, the plaintiff is required to provide a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is
entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It is not
necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts and his
statement need only “give the defendant fair notice of
what the…claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 47 (1957)). However, a complaint that offers
“labels and conclusions” or “formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To state
a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, “that is plausible on its
face.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should
follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first,
“identifying pleadings that, because they are no more
than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal
conclusions must be supported by factual allegations.
Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
the court must, second, “assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.” Id.
has an account with the Defendant bank with a balance of
$5.00. (Docket #1-1 at 6). Plaintiff, apparently dismayed by
his lack of funds, sent a “promissory note” to
Defendant in December 2018, wherein he promised to pay
Defendant $90, 000 (the “Note”). Id. at
11. Plaintiff believes that Defendant should have accepted
the Note and credited his account for $90, 000, as if he had
simply deposited cash. Of course, the Note is not legal
tender. Plaintiff cannot simply issue a promissory note for a
sum of money and require anyone to whom he transfers the note
to accept it for face value. In other words, Plaintiff cannot
conjure money for himself out of thin air.
followed up the Note with various arcane correspondences to
Defendant, threatening that its failure to honor the Note was
wrongful and that he would sue. (Docket #1 at 2-3). Defendant
seems to have ignored both the Note and Plaintiff's
attempts at intimidation. Plaintiff claims that
Defendant's conduct violates the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C.
§§ 1961 et seq., the Uniform Commercial
Code (the “UCC”), and other Wisconsin statutes.
Id. at 3. He seeks “compensatory damages for
[Defendant's] refusal to honor the Note, ” as well
as punitive damages and costs. Id. at 4.
allegations fail to invoke the Court's subject-matter
jurisdiction for two reasons. First, federal courts are
courts of limited jurisdiction, and may only hear cases in
two primary categories: 1) those raising issues of federal
law, known as “federal question” jurisdiction,
and 2) those between parties who are citizens of different
states and which involve an amount in controversy exceeding
$75, 000.00, known as “diversity” jurisdiction.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332(a).
action raises no federal questions. The only federal law he
cites is RICO, but that statute was enacted “in an
effort to combat organized, long-term criminal
activity.” Jennings v. Auto Meter Prod., Inc.,
495 F.3d 466, 472 (7th Cir. 2007). RICO makes it a crime to
invest income derived from a pattern of racketeering
activity. RICO also provides a civil cause of action for
those injured by a violation of its prohibitions.
Defendant's refusal to give Plaintiff $90, 000 does not,
however, come close to criminal liability for
racketeering. Diversity is also lacking, as both parties
are from Wisconsin. (Docket #1 at 1-2).
one of these prerequisites were met, the Court would still
lack subject-matter jurisdiction because “frivolous
suits do not engage federal jurisdiction.”
Gilgenbach v. Illinois, 707 Fed.Appx. 420, 420 (7th
Cir. 2018). As described above, Plaintiff's allegations
are clearly frivolous. He cannot sue his bank for failing to
honor a Note that is not worth the paper it is printed on.
For all of the above reasons, this action must be dismissed
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis (Docket #4) be and the
same is hereby DENIED; and IT IS
FURTHER ORDERED that this action be and the same is
hereby DISMISSED without prejudice.
Clerk of Court is directed to enter ...