United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
V. JANET BOWMAN, Plaintiff,
FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Vivian Janet Bowman, a resident of Richmond, Kentucky, has
filed a pro se complaint against Defendant First
Christian Church in Richmond, Kentucky [Record No. 1] and a
motion to proceed in forma pauperis. [Record No. 2]
The information contained in Bowman's fee motion
indicates that she lacks sufficient assets or income to pay
the $350.00 filing fee. As a result, her motion will be
granted. And because Bowman is granted pauper status in this
proceeding, the $50.00 administrative fee is waived.
See District Court Miscellaneous Fee Schedule,
Court must conduct a preliminary review of Bowman's
Complaint because she has been granted pauper status. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The court must dismiss any claim
that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. Hill v.
Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). When
testing the sufficiency of Bowman's Complaint, the Court
affords it a forgiving construction, accepting as true all
non-conclusory factual allegations and liberally construing
its legal claims in the plaintiff's favor. Davis v.
Prison Health Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th Cir.
Complaint is somewhat rambling and difficult to understand.
However, she generally alleges that she was
“molested” in the First Christian Church on
September 10, 2017. [Record No. 1] According to Bowman, she
was attending the Sunday morning services as a visitor when
she noticed a man sitting behind her in a pew who made her
feel uncomfortable. She claims that, after she moved, the man
also moved to be near her. She then alleges that, as the
people in the church moved to the aisle to hold hands at the
end of the service, the “stranger old man” moved
others out of the way to be near her. She states, “Then
in front of everyone he molested me, I objected and I made
extreme move to get away from him again. To molest to make
annoying sexual advances towards me even after I had moved
away from him is a concern that I must not ignore now.”
remainder of Bowman's Complaint consists of Bowman's
opinions regarding alleged activities of the members of the
church, as well as statements regarding Bowman's feelings
that she “met no good role models there, ” and
“[t]he presence of God was not there.” With
respect to her claims against the First Christian Church, the
only named defendant, she states, “No church and
especially this church defendant First Christian Church has
the right to molest to intimidate to be a bully towards a
single white woman who is there in peace and wants to
learn.” She further states, “I feel driven by God
to object to this terrible civil rights violation in this
defendant church. This defendant is in your federal
jurisdiction, I ask The Federal Judge is this the Christian
way to be molested to be made fun of because I the Plaintiff
object to sexual advances in this Christian Church?”
[Id.] Similarly, in her motion to proceed in
forma pauperis, she explains “My case is a
complaint. Not wanting money. I have Civil Rights question.
Does a person such as myself have the right to go to a
Christian church and not be molested?” [Record No. 2 at
6]. Thus, the gist of Bowman's Complaint is that the
defendant permitted a violation of Bowman's civil rights
to occur during its services.
thoroughly reviewed Bowman's Complaint, the Court
concludes that it must be dismissed. Bowman does not indicate
what statutory or constitutional rights she alleges that the
First Christian Church may have violated. However, the Court
liberally construes her Complaint as asserting a claim
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the
defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the United
States Constitution, which prohibits state officials from:
(1) violating a citizen's federal statutory or
constitutional rights; (2) depriving a citizen of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; and (3)
denying any person equal protection under the law.
First Christian Church is not a “state actor”
subject to liability under Section 1983. Polk County v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 324-25 (1981). To prevail in a
Section 1983 action, the plaintiff must show that she was
deprived of a constitutional right and that the deprivation
occurred at the hands of defendant who was a “state
actor, ” or acted under color of state law. See
Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); Searcy v.
City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). Here,
the First Christian Church is a private entity, and private
conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful, is not
actionable under Section 1983. American Mfrs. Mut. Ins.
Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50 (1999) (citations
omitted). Accordingly, Bowman fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted against the First Christian
Church under Section 1983.
Complaint could be very broadly construed to assert a claim
of assault against the First Christian Church. However,
assault is a tort under Kentucky, not federal, law. A
district court may “decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over a claim [if] the district court has
dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction
. . ” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Where, as here, the
Court has dismissed all of the plaintiffs federal claims
prior to service of process, the Court concludes that the
balance of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and
comity all point toward declining supplemental jurisdiction.
Carnegie-Mellon University v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343
(1988); Musson Theatrical, Inc. v. Federal Exp.
Corp., 89 F.3d 1244, 1255 (6th Cir. 1996) (noting that
“[i]f the court dismisses plaintiffs federal claims
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), then supplemental jurisdiction can
never exist”, and that “[a]fter a 12(b)(6)
dismissal, there is a strong presumption in favor of
dismissing supplemental claims”). The Court will
therefore dismiss Bowman's state law claims, if any,
without prejudice. Accordingly, for the reasons outlined
above, it is hereby
1. Bowman's motion to proceed in forma pauperis
[Record No. 2] is GRANTED.
2. Any civil rights claims asserted pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 are DISMISSED with prejudice. A
claims asserted under state law are
DISMISSED without prejudice.
3. The Court will enter a corresponding Judgment this date.
4. This matter is STRICKEN from the active