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SACKO v. STATE OF MICHIGAN

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division


June 15, 2004.

LANCINE SACKO, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF MICHIGAN, Defendant.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MORAN, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Lancine Sacko filed a pro se complaint against the State of Michigan. Plaintiff's civil cover sheet identifies his action as a tort claim for medical malpractice. Along with his complaint, Sacko filed a petition to proceed in forma pauperis and a motion for appointment of counsel.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) we may authorize plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis if he demonstrates an inability to pay the required costs and fees. Plaintiff's financial affidavit is confusing and contradictory, apparently due to plaintiff's difficulty with English. Plaintiff states that he is not currently employed, but indicates that his monthly salary is $1,400. It is unclear whether or not he is still receiving these wages. Though plaintiff states that he is not married, he reports that his spouse's monthly salary is also about $1,400. Other documentation supplied with the complaint indicates that plaintiff is married but does not confirm that his spouse is employed. Though plaintiff identifies interest and unemployment as other sources of his income, when asked to state how much income he has earned from these sources, he writes "non." On other lines of the affidavit plaintiff indicates that he received $60,000 on March 28, 2004. Given that plaintiff and his spouse may be receiving income of $2,800 a month, and that he may have received a sizable sum of money a few months ago, we find that plaintiff has failed to demonstrate an inability to pay. However, it is possible that a revised financial affidavit would reveal that plaintiff has no income and no assets, and that the current affidavit's representations otherwise were the result of misunderstanding. Thus, despite plaintiff's failure to establish financial eligibility, we will address the merits of plaintiff's claim.

  During the initial review of a petition to proceed in forma pauperis, we analyze the claims and dismiss the petition if we determine that the action is frivolous or malicious, or it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii); Alston v. Debruyn, 13 F.3d 1036, 1039 (7th Cir. 1994). Plaintiff's allegations are unclear, but he appears to argue that the State of Michigan is liable for the violation of his constitutional rights arising from the suspension of his driver's license, his arrest without cause, injury to his hand while in police custody, and a court's denial of his personal protection order. Plaintiff also states on his civil cover sheet that he has a tort claim for medical malpractice, and he filed a form entitled "Complaint of Employment Discrimination," identifying the State of Michigan as the defendant, but JAC Products, Inc., as the employer.

  Plaintiffs' claims against the State of Michigan are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. A state cannot be sued in federal court unless the state waives its sovereign immunity or consents to be sued. Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in the federal courts. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th Cir. 1986). Further, plaintiff has failed to state any basis for his tort claim and employment discrimination claim against the State.

  Even if Michigan were not immune from this suit, the petition to proceed in forma pauperis would be denied and the complaint dismissed because the Northern District of Illinois is an improper venue. Plaintiff, a resident of Michigan, erroneously claims that the basis of federal jurisdiction is the U.S. Government's status as defendant. The United States is not a named party in this suit, and so plaintiff's only basis of jurisdiction would be a federal question. When a federal court has jurisdiction for a reason other than diversity of citizenship, the action may only be brought in a judicial district where (1) a defendant resides, if they all reside in the same state, (2) a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or (3) any defendant may be found, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). None of these criteria applies — the defendant is not a resident of this district, the events did not take place here, nor can the defendant be found here.

  CONCLUSION

  For the foregoing reasons plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis and motion for appointment of counsel are denied and his complaint is dismissed. [] Jury Verdict. This action came before the Court for a trial by jury. The issues have been tried and the jury rendered its verdict.

  [x] Decision by Court. This action came to trial or hearing before the Court. The issues have been tried or heard and a decision has been rendered.

  IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis and motion for appointment of counsel are denied and his complaint is dismissed.

20040615

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