United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
LAWRENCE L. PIERSOL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Gregory Allis, filed a pro se lawsuit alleging that
defendant, Sanford USD Medical Center, failed to timely
submit claims to the Veterans Administration for emergency
medical treatment Sanford provided Allis. Docket 1. Allis
also moves for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Docket 3.
federal court may authorize the commencement of suit without
prepayment of fees when an applicant files an affidavit
stating he is unable to pay the costs of the lawsuit. 28
U.S.C. § 1915. Determining whether an applicant is
sufficiently impoverished to qualify to proceed in forma
pauperis under § 1915 is committed to the court's
discretion. Cross v. Gen. Motors Corp., 721 F.2d
1152, 1157 (8th Cir. 1983). "In forma pauperis status
does not require a litigant to demonstrate absolute
destitution." Lee v. McDonald's Corp., 231
F.3d 456, 459 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court finds that Allis
satisfies § 1915, and grants his motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis.
in forma pauperis is governed by 28 U.S.C.§ 1915. That
Notwithstanding any filing fee, ... the court shall dismiss
the case at any time if the court determines that
(B) the action or appeal
(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted;
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Subsection (e)(2) allows the
court sua sponte to review a complaint filed with an in forma
pauperis application to determine if the action is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant or defendants who are immune from such
relief. Thus, the court is required to screen a pro se
complaint as soon as practicable and to dismiss those which
are frivolous or fail to state a claim for relief. "[A]
complaint, containing as it does both factual allegations and
legal conclusions, is frivolous where it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact. . . . [the] term
'frivolous, ' when applied to a complaint, embraces
not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the
fanciful factual allegation." Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
Allis is proceeding pro se, his pleadings must be liberally
construed and his complaint, "however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). However, a plaintiff seeking to bring
a lawsuit in federal court must establish that the court has
subject matter jurisdiction.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction . . . ."
United States v. Afremov, 611 F.3d 970, 975 (8th
Cir. 2010). A District Court "has a special obligation
to consider whether it has subject matter jurisdiction in
every case." Hart v. United States, 630 F.3d
1085, 1089 (8th Cir. 2011) "This obligation includes the
concomitant responsibility 'to consider sua
sponte [the court's subject matter] jurisdiction . .
. where . . . [the court] believe[s] that jurisdiction may be
lacking.' " Id. (quoting Clark v.
Baku, 593 F.3d 712, 714 (8th Cir. 2010)).
does not allege grounds for jurisdiction. Allis's
complaint only alleges that Sanford failed to timely submit a
claim to the VA as permitted under 38 U.S.C. § 1725.
Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction through
federal question jurisdiction or diversity jurisdiction.
Under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1331, federal district courts
"have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States." Under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1332, federal district
courts "have original jurisdiction of all civil actions
where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between ...
citizens of different States [.]"
does not raise a federal question. "[A] suit 'arises
under' federal law 'only when the plaintiffs
statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based
upon [federal law].' " Vaden v. Discover
Bank,556 U.S. 49, 60 (2009) (quoting Louisville
& Nashville R. Co. v. Mottley,211 U.S. 149, 152
(1908)). Although Allis may be attempting to base his claim
on 38 U.S.C. § 1725, Allis fails to demonstrate how his
claim arises under this federal law when he named Sanford as
the defendant. This statute does not create a cause of action
under which a veteran may sue a health care provider for
failure to seek reimbursement from the VA. Rather,
"[s]ection 1725 .... bestows upon the Secretary [of
Veterans Affairs] the power to reimburse an 'eligible,
' non-service-connected veteran 'the reasonable value
of emergency treatment furnished ... in a non-Department
facility.' 38 U.S.C. § 1725(a)." Fritz v.
Nicholson, 20 Vet.App. 507, 510 (2006). In cases
involving veterans' claims for benefits, Congress has
created an exclusive channel of judicial review. A
veteran's request for benefits is first processed and
decided by VA officials in regional offices, under the
ultimate authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Henderson ex rel. Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U.S.
428, 431 (2011) (explaining the VA's process for
adjudicating benefits claims). If the veteran is unhappy with
the initial benefits decision, he or she may appeal to the
Board of Veterans' Appeals, within one year of the
VA's decisions..38 U.S.C. §§ 7104-7105. Under
the Veterans' Judicial Review Act of 1988 (VJRA), the
veteran may then appeal to the United States Court of Appeals
for Veterans Claims, an Article I tribunal created by the
VJRA, which has exclusive jurisdiction over decisions made by
the Appeals Board. 38 U.S.C. ...