United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
DARROW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 9, filed by
Defendants Francisco Zepeda, Thomas Rogers, and Tami
Matejewski, employees of the Knox County Housing Authority
(collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff Paris
Owens filed a pro se complaint, ECF No. 1, against the
defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the following
reasons, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED and the Complaint
is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
to the filing of her complaint, Paris Owens lived for several
years, with her three children, as a resident of Knox County
Housing Authority. As part of her lease (or some other
agreement memorialized by a “document”), she is
required to perform community service in order to maintain
residency. Owens filed her complaint on June 28, 2016. One or
all of the defendants, who are employees at the Knox County
Housing Authority, planned to evict her on July 1, 2016, due
to her noncompliance with the community service provision.
Owens alleges that new tenants in the building were not
“forced to sign such document agreeing to do community
service.” Compl. 6. Owens suffered a broken ankle in
January 2016, which the Court construes as one reason why she
may have been unable to comply with the community service
Court denied Owens' request for a temporary restraining
order stopping the eviction process, on the basis that
Owens' claims were not likely to succeed on the merits.
See Jun. 28, 2016 Order, ECF No. 4. On August 9,
2016, the Court granted Owens' motion for extension of
time to file an amended complaint, ECF No. 12, and, on the
basis of Owens' statement that new events had taken place
that “merit[ed] the Honorable Court's attention,
” gave leave for Owens to file a renewed motion for a
restraining order or preliminary injunction. Id.
Owens did not submit an amended complaint, nor did she file
any other documentation with the Court thereafter. Therefore,
the Court relies on the facts in the initial complaint to
reach its conclusion in this Order.
Legal Standard on a 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss
will dismiss a complaint if it does not have subject matter
jurisdiction over the claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The
jurisdiction of the federal courts is limited: “[t]hey
possess only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute . . . .” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.
of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The complaint must
contain “a short and plain statement of the grounds for
the court's jurisdiction, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), and
must “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)) (quotation
marks omitted). The plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing subject matter jurisdiction. United
Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942,
946 (7th Cir. 2003) overruled on other grounds by
Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc., 683 F.3d 845 (7th Cir.
2012). When “subject matter jurisdiction is not evident
on the face of the complaint, ” the court must
“assum[e] for the purposes of the motion that the
allegations in the complaint are true.” Id.
The relevant statutory source of subject matter jurisdiction
in this matter, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, is invoked only
“when [a plaintiff] pleads a colorable claim
‘arising under' the Constitution or laws of the
United States.” Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546
U.S. 500, 513 (2006) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1331).
plaintiff represents herself pro se, the complaint is to be
“held to less stringent standards” than pleadings
by lawyers and must be liberally construed. Donald v.
Cook Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 95 F.3d 548, 555,
555 n.2 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Duncan v.
Duckworth, 644 F.2d 653, 655 (7th Cir. 1981)). District
courts have the responsibility, short of “becom[ing]
advocate[s], ” to ensure that pro se plaintiffs have
“ample opportunity for amending the complaint”
and that their claims be adjudicated on the merits, rather
than dismissed on technicalities. Id. at 555.
Legal Standard on a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must sufficiently allege that (1) a person acting
under color of state law (2) deprived her of a right,
privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States. London v. RBS Citizens, N.A., 600
F.3d 742, 745-46 (7th Cir. 2010). In order to properly allege
a Fourteenth Amendment violation based on equal protection
under § 1983, a“plaintiff must allege that a state
actor purposefully discriminated against him because of his
identification with a particular (presumably historically
disadvantaged) group.” Hernandez v. Joliet Police
Dep't, 197 F.3d 256, 262 (7th Cir. 1999). “[A]
plaintiff states a class-of-one equal protection claim by
alleging that he “has been intentionally treated
differently from others similarly situated and that there is
no rational basis for the difference in treatment.”
LaBella Winnetka, Inc. v. Vill. of Winnetka, 628
F.3d 937, 942 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Vill. of
Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564 (2000)). To
successfully allege a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due
process violation, the plaintiff must establish that there is
“(1) a cognizable property interest; (2) a deprivation
of that property interest; and (3) a denial of due
process.” Khan v. Bland, 630 F.3d 519, 527
(7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Hudson v. City of Chicago,
374 F.3d 554, 559 (7th Cir. 2004)).
plaintiff's complaint fails to plead “a colorable
claim arising under a law of the United States, ” she
fails to establish subject matter jurisdiction, and the
defendant may move for dismissal of the pleading under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See e.g.,
Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago Lodge
No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820-21 (7th Cir. 2009).
alleges that, by being subjected to a community service
requirement as a condition of her residency, she was
“treated differently than others similarly situated, in
violation of her equal rights.” Compl. 5. She also
alleges that the community service requirement, resulting in
eviction if not fulfilled, is an “unfair policy.”
Compl. 7. Defendants move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), arguing that Owens has not
successfully alleged any constitutional violation to form the