United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Leo I. Brisbois United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge pursuant to a general assignment made in accordance
with the provision of 28 U.S.C. § 636, and upon
Plaintiff Carol Vanerka Stephens' Complaint, [Docket No.
1], as well as, her Application [UP] to Proceed in District
Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs. [Docket No. 2].
reasons below, the Court recommends (1) dismissing this
action without prejudice for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, and (2) denying the IFP Application as moot.
case stems from a state court property dispute. In April
2016, Plaintiff filed a petition in Minnesota state court
seeking to reform a deed for certain St. Paul-based real
property. See, Register of Actions, In re
Stephens, No. 62-CV-16-1995 (Minn. Dist. Ct),
available at http://pa.courts.state.mn.us (last
accessed Aug. 2, 2019); Stephens v. Stephens, No.
A18-1208, 2019 WL 1007789, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. Mar. 4, 2019).
Under the terms of the deed, Plaintiff had an undivided
one-half interest in the property; Defendant had an undivided
quarter interest; and a third party (Plaintiff s daughter who
is also Defendant's sister) had another undivided quarter
interest. See, Stephens, 2019 WL 1007789, at *
1.Through the April 2016, state court
Petition, Plaintiff sought to make herself the property's
sole owner. See, Id.
state court action, Defendant moved for summary judgment in
January 2018. See, Id. at *2. Plaintiff did
not file a responsive memorandum, and at a motion hearing,
she failed to dispute the authenticity of various exhibits
that Defendant had submitted. See, Id. The
state district court issued an Order stating (among other
things) that the relevant deed language was "clear and
unambiguous," and that the state court "ha[d] no
basis for reforming or changing the deed to the St. Paul
property." See, Id. Because Plaintiff
"ha[d] not met her burden [of presenting specific facts
that raise a genuine issue for trial]," the state
district court granted the summary judgment motion and
dismissed the state court case. See, Id.
appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which in March
2019, affirmed the district court's grant of summary
judgment. See, Id. at *3-4. Plaintiff
petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court for discretionary
review, but that Court summarily denied that request on May
28, 2019. See, Id. at *1. Plaintiff then filed the
present Complaint. (See, Compl., [Docket No. 1], at
Complaint's main thrust is that the state district court
proceedings violated Minnesota statutes in various ways.
(See, Id. at 3-5). Plaintiff also generically
asserts that she "was denied due process."
(See, e.g., Id. at 3).
section of the Complaint titled "Evidence and
Facts," Plaintiff refers this Court to an
"addendum"; this addendum consists of 106 pages of
material, including what appears to be Plaintiff s briefs to
the Minnesota state courts, various exhibits, materials from
the state district court proceedings, and several media
articles. (See, Id. at 6; Addendum [Docket
No. 1-2]). In its Request for Relief, the Complaint seeks
reformation of the title for the St. Paul property, as well
as, "justice in accountability, sanctions, fines and any
other relief Plaintiff is entitled to from" Defendant
and a variety of other people not named. (See,
Compl., [Docket No. 1], at 6).
did not pay the filing fee for this case, but instead, she
applied for in forma pauperis (IFP) status.
(See, IFP Application [Docket No. 2]). That
application is now before the Court.
such an application must be considered before taking any
other action in a matter. Under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure Rule 12(h)(3), however, "[i]f the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." After
reviewing the Complaint, the Court concludes that it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the claims
asserts that federal question jurisdiction exists in this
case. (Compl., [Docket No. 1], at 2). In the portion of her
Complaint asserting the basis for such jurisdiction,
Plaintiff cites 28 U.S.C. § 1331; Rule 1.3 of the Local
Rules for the United States District Court for the District
of Minnesota; and various Minnesota statutes. (See,
Id.) None of these sources provide this Court federal
question subject matter jurisdiction over this action.
28 U.S.C. § 1331, district courts have subject-matter
jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
An action "arise[s] under" federal law in two
situations: (1) "federal law creates the cause of action
asserted," or (2) the action presents a state-law claim
that "necessarily raise[s] a stated federal issue,
actually disputed and substantial, which a federal forum may
entertain without disturbing any congressionally approved
balance of federal and state power." Merrill Lynch,
Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. v. Manning, 136 S.Ct.
1562, 1570 (2016) (internal quotation marks omitted;
alteration in Merrill Lynch) (quoting Grable
& Sons Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g ...