United States District Court, D. Minnesota
AARON J. CURRY, Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
T. SCHULTZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Aaron J. Curry alleges that the Minnesota Department of Motor
Vehicles has “illegally registered [his] name
into commerce” without his consent. Compl. at 1 [ECF
No. 1]. Curry did not pay the filing fee for this action, but
instead applied for in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) status. See ECF No. 2. That IFP
application is now before the Court and must be considered
before any other action is taken in this matter.
review of the IFP application, this Court concludes that
Curry qualifies financially for IFP status. That said, an
action may be dismissed when an IFP applicant has filed a
complaint that fails to state a cause of action on which
relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); Atkinson v. Bohn, 91 F.3d 1127,
1128 (8th Cir. 1996) (per curiam); Carter v.
Schafer, 273 Fed.Appx. 581, 582 (8th Cir. 2008) (per
curiam) (“[C]ontrary to plaintiffs' arguments on
appeal, the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) apply to
all persons proceeding IFP and are not limited to prisoner
suits, and the provisions allow dismissal without
service.”). In reviewing whether a complaint states a
claim on which relief may be granted, this Court must accept
as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and
draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Aten v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th
Cir. 2008). Although the factual allegations in the complaint
need not be detailed, they must be sufficient to “raise
a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). The complaint must “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. In
assessing the sufficiency of the complaint, the court may
disregard legal conclusions that are couched as factual
allegations. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662
(2009). Pro se complaints are to be construed liberally, but
they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims
advanced. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th
complaint is light on details. He alleges that unnamed state
officials have violated “a multitude of federal
laws” by “register[ing]” his name and
giving his personal information to other state officials.
Compl. at 1. Based on those allegations (and not much else),
Curry seeks $125, 000, 000, 000 that is, one hundred and
twenty-five billion dollars from the State of Minnesota.
Id. at 2.
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires
only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Curry's
complaint fails even this lenient standard. As an initial
matter, it is unclear what Curry means when he says that the
Department of Motor Vehicles has “registered [his] name
into commerce.” Compl. at 1. Nor is it clear from the
complaint what information other than Curry's name might
be in the possession of the Department of Motor
little information to go from, it is hard to imagine how the
State of Minnesota, acting through the Department of Motor
Vehicles, might have violated federal law, even assuming (as
this Court must) that each of Curry's factual allegations
is true. The only federal cause of action expressly invoked
by Curry is claims arising under the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C.
§§ 1961-1968, but in order to make out a claim
under RICO, Curry must allege a pattern of racketeering
consisting of two or more unlawful predicate acts under the
heightened pleading standards of Rule 9(b). See Crest
Constr. II, Inc. v. Doe, 660 F.3d 346, 358 (8th Cir.
2011). As explained above, Curry's allegations do not
suffice to meet the more lenient standards of Rule 8(a), much
less the heightened standards of Rule 9(b). Nor does Curry
allege how the Department of Motor Vehicles might constitute
a “RICO enterprise, ” see Id. at 354-55.
Any claims purportedly brought under RICO are nonstarters.
other federal cause of action is obvious from the face of the
complaint, either. For example, the Driver's Privacy
Protection Act (“DPPA”), 18 U.S.C. §
2724(a), prohibits obtaining, disclosing, or using personal
information from a motor vehicle record for an impermissible
purpose, but Curry has plausibly alleged neither that the
Department of Motor Vehicles possessed any of his personal
information (other than his name), nor that any employee of
the Department of Motor Vehicles accessed his information for
a purpose not permitted under the DPPA. Nothing in the
complaint suggests that state employees may have acted with
discriminatory animus towards Curry. The Department of Motor
Vehicles is not a “person” amenable to suit under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Simply put, there is no reason from
the pleading to believe that the Department of Motor Vehicles
has violated any federal law.
there were, however, this lawsuit would run into another
problem. “The Eleventh Amendment provides states, and
state agencies, with immunity not only from suits brought by
citizens of other states, but also from suits brought by
their own citizens.” Doe v. Nebraska, 345 F.3d
593, 597 (8th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). The defendant
to this action is an agency of the State of Minnesota and
therefore invested with sovereign immunity, as reflected by
the Eleventh Amendment. The State of Minnesota has not waived
its immunity in this action, and Curry has not plausibly
alleged a cause of action under a statute that abrogates the
state's sovereign immunity. Thus, whatever the merits of
his claims, Curry would nevertheless likely be precluded from
recovering $125 billion (or any other amount) from the
Department of Motor Vehicles.
event, Curry has not pleaded a plausible claim for relief.
Accordingly, it is recommended that his matter be summarily
dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and
proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED THAT:
1. This matter be SUMMARILY DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
2. The application to proceed in forma pauperis of
plaintiff Aaron J. Curry ...