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Greene v. Sprint Nextel Corp.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 14, 2018

CEDRIC GREENE, Plaintiff,
v.
SPRINT NEXTEL CORP., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ERIC F. MELGREN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Kenneth G. Gale's Report and Recommendation (Doc. 5) that Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) be dismissed, and Plaintiff Cedric Greene's Objections thereto (Doc. 9). The Court overrules Plaintiff's objections, and accepts and adopts as its own the recommended decision of the Magistrate Judge. Further, the Court imposes future filing restrictions on Greene, as set forth in this Order, based on his history of vexatious and frivolous filings in this case and others.

         I. Legal Standard

         This Court reviews de novo any part of the Magistrate Judge's disposition to which Green has properly objected.[1] Objections must be timely and specific.[2] This Court “may accept, reject, or modify the recommended decision, receive further evidence, or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.”[3] Because Greene appears pro se, the Court must liberally construe his pleadings.[4] Liberal construction, however, “does not relieve the plaintiff of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.”[5]

         II. Analysis

         A. Greene's objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

         The Magistrate Judge recommended dismissal of Greene's claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted, and because discovery issues in a California state court case should be addressed in that court. Greene's objection requests that this Court waive the requirements for diversity jurisdiction, argues that he has stated a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress (suggesting Kansas law may apply to his claim), incoherently discusses 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), [6] and asserts that resolving this matter in California state court “is not an option available” to him.

         “Federal courts have limited jurisdiction and must narrowly construe statutes conferring jurisdiction.”[7] Here, Greene bases subject matter jurisdiction on the presence of diversity jurisdiction.[8] Although the parties appear diverse, the amount in controversy is undisputedly below the necessary threshold to confer jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Complaint identifies the amount in controversy as $60, 000, and Greene admits in his objection that the amount in controversy does not exceed the sum or value of $75, 000. Instead, he asks the Court to waive this requirement. Because the Court cannot waive the requirements for diversity jurisdiction and no basis for exercising subject matter jurisdiction exists, Greene's claim is properly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.[9] Accordingly, the Court overrules Greene's objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendations, and accepts and adopts as its own the recommended decision of the Magistrate Judge.

         B. Future filing restrictions

         It is well-established that “the right of access to the courts is neither absolute nor unconditional.”[10] Pro se litigants who are not deterred from frivolous filings by the threat of mounting attorney's fees can compromise the interests of justice when the Court “is forced to devote its limited resources to the processing of repetitious and frivolous requests.”[11] Federal courts have inherent power to impose necessary and appropriate restrictions upon a party in aid of jurisdiction.[12] An injunction may be appropriate where the Court sets forth the litigant's abusive and lengthy history, provides the litigant with notice and an opportunity to be heard, and makes clear the requirements the plaintiff must meet in order to obtain permission to file an action.[13] The Court evaluates five factors in determining whether to impose restrictions on a litigant's future access to the court:

(1) the litigant's history of litigation and in particular whether it entailed vexatious, harassing or duplicative lawsuits; (2) the litigant's motive in pursuing litigation, e.g., does the litigant have an objective good faith expectation of prevailing?; (3) whether the litigant is represented by counsel; (4) whether the litigant has caused needless expense to other parties or has posed an unnecessary burden on the courts and their personnel; and (5) whether other sanctions would be adequate to protect the courts and other parties.[14]

         Ultimately, the Court must determine “whether a litigant who has a history of vexatious litigation is likely to continue to abuse the judicial process and harass other parties.”[15]

         In January 2018, proceeding pro se, Greene filed five lawsuits in this district.[16] Greene has a lengthy history of litigation in other jurisdictions, including litigation involving the same claims and against the same parties as presented in his recent filings.[17] Three of Greene's recently filed lawsuits have already been recommended for dismissal.[18] Greene's lack of good faith is demonstrated by the fact that he continues to pursue arguments and claims previously addressed and dismissed by other courts. For example, Greene previously pursued the same claim alleged here against Sprint in the District of Utah and previously unsuccessfully requested that the amount in controversy requirement be waived. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, specifically informing Greene that parties “cannot waive or forfeit a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.”[19] Despite this clear directive, Green again asked this Court to waive the amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction. Greene's actions have imposed and will likely continue to impose needless expense and burden on other parties, as well as on the judicial system.

         The Court finds that Greene is likely to continue to abuse the judicial process, and the enumerated factors strongly weigh in favor of imposing filing restrictions. Accordingly, the Court finds it necessary to impose filing restrictions to deter future frivolous motions and to protect the Court and future defendants from needless time and expense. Thus, Greene will be required to obtain leave of Court to submit future filings in any existing cases currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, or to initiate a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas without the representation of an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Kansas and admitted to practice before this Court.

         Because the Court imposes these restrictions sua sponte, Greene will be allowed an opportunity to ...


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