United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
December 12, 2014
JAMES M. JOHNSTON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN PATTERSON, USDA Area Specialist; BARBARA BEARD-HINTON, Assistant State Director of USDA, and HALIFAX CO. AGRICULTURE COMPLEX Defendants.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on plaintiff James Johnston's pro se application to proceed in forma pauperis and for frivolity review. [DE 1]. For the reasons stated below, the motion to proceed in forma pauperis is ALLOWED and plaintiffs claim is DISMISSED.
Based on the information in the motion to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court finds that plaintiff has adequately demonstrated his inability to prepay the required court costs. His motion to proceed in forma pauperis is therefore allowed. After allowing a party to proceed in forma pauperis, as here, the Court must conduct a frivolity review of the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
It appears that this case is plaintiffs fifth lawsuit before this Court. All previous cases (No. 4:10-CV-116-D; No. 4:10-CV-139-FL; No. 4:10-CV-176-FL; and No. 4:11-CV-184-FL) involved the same factual allegations and were dismissed by the Court on frivolity review for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. This case too must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Brickwood Contractors, Inc. v. Datanet Eng'g, Inc., 369 F.3d 385, 390 (4th Cir. 2004) noting that questions of subject matter jurisdiction should be raised by the Court sua sponte ).
Plaintiffs complaint raises claims that are essentially identical to those he sought to bring in prior cases. See James M. Johsnton v. Carolyn Patterson: USDA and Shawn Spears - S and J of Raleigh, No. 4:10-CV-176-FL; James McKinley Johnston v. Carolyn Patterson, USDA, No. 4:11-CV-184-FL. In those cases the Court adopted the recommendations of the magistrate judges which recommended dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to plaintiffs failure to exhaust his administrative remedies with the United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA"). Where plaintiff has raised the same claims, and offered no evidence or argument in support of this Court's subject matter jurisdiction, the Court reaches the same conclusion as it did in the prior case. See 7 U.S.C. § 6912(e); Gold Dollar Warehouse, Inc. v. Glickman, 211 F.3d 93, 98 (4th Cir. 2000) (holding that§ 6912(e) is a jurisdictional requirement).
7 U.S.C. § 6912(e) requires a plaintiff to pursue his claims against the USDA and its employees with the USDA before seeking relief in this Court. Specifically, this statute provides that "a person shall exhaust all administrative appeal procedures established by the Secretary [of the Department of Agriculture] or required by law before the person may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction against... the [USDA]... an agency, office, officer, or employee of the [USDA]." 7 U.S.C. § 6912(e)(1), (3). Because plaintiff has not alleged that he pursued his claims against Patterson and Beard-Hinton through the USDA's administrative process before bring the instant action, the Court has no subject matter jurisdiction over these claims and they should be dismissed. Because no allegations are made against Halifax Co. Agriculture Complex in the complaint, the claims against that defendant must also be dismissed.
On May 16, 2012, District Court Judge Louise Flanagan warned plaintiff that "[i]n light of the successive, identical petitions plaintiff has brought before this court, all dismissed for the same reasons, ... further suits involving the exact same claims bay be subject to pre-filing injunction." No. 4: 11-CV-184-FL [DE 7 at 2]. The Court now renews this warning.
For the reasons stated herein, the motion to proceed in forma pauperis is ALLOWED, but the action is DISMISSED for Jack of subject matter jurisdiction.