United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
DAVID A. SILVIA, Plaintiff,
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES and COURTNEY HAWKINS, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICIA A. SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
black letter law that a federal court has a continuing duty
to inquire as to its subject matter jurisdiction, even absent
a motion. McCulloch v. Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5 (1st
Cir. 2004); In re Whatley, 396 F.Supp.2d 50, 53 (D.
Mass. 2005). Plaintiff David A. Silvia's recent filing
entitled Complaint for a Civil Action - Review of Hearing
Decision, ECF No. 6, necessitated a review of the Court's
subject matter jurisdiction in this matter.
September 24, 2018, the Court screened Mr. Silvia's
complaint and granted his Application to Proceed without
Prepayment of Fees and Affidavit. See ECF Nos. 1
& 2; Text Order of Sept. 24, 2018. Based on his
complaint, the Court was under the impression that Mr.
Silvia, the pro se plaintiff in this matter, was the
claimant requesting review of the Rhode Island Department of
Human Services administrative hearing decision regarding his
eligibility start date for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (“SNAP”) benefits. In his complaint and
civil cover sheet, Mr. Silvia clearly identified himself as
the sole plaintiff and signed the complaint as the only
Silvia's recent filing, however, indicates that he is not
the claimant seeking review of an administrative hearing
decision, but rather was the claimant's (Kenneth Almeida)
“appointed representative who appeared on his behalf at
the hearing.” ECF No. 6 at 1. Mr. Silvia appears to
want to represent Mr. Almeida in this federal action based on
his statements in his October 16 filing, including that Mr.
Silvia is “requesting this Court to review this
decision, and seek Relief for the Claimant [Kenneth Almeida]
which would have been the total of SNAP benefits from 07-31
January, 2018 and 01-05 February, 2018.” ECF No. 6 at
1. There is nothing in the document to indicate that Mr.
Silvia seeks any relief for himself. Further, the Court has
reexamined the complaint and attachments and Mr.
Almeida's name and address are printed at the top of the
August 17, 2018, Administrative Hearing Decision, although
that is the only place in the entire twenty-one-page filing
where Mr. Almeida is mentioned. See ECF No. 1-1 at
1. It is now clear that Mr. Almeida is the claimant seeking
this Court's review of the administrative hearing
decision, not Mr. Silvia.
Silvia is not an attorney, but is a pro se litigant.
Therefore, he may not represent or file motions on behalf of
other individuals. 28 U.S.C. § 1654 (“In all
courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct
their own cases personally or by counsel as, by the rules of
such courts, respectively, are permitted to manage and
conduct causes therein.”); DRI LR Gen 205(a)(2)
(“[a]n individual appearing pro se may not represent
any other party”). Accordingly, Mr. Silvia cannot
represent Mr. Almeida's interests in this case.
one step further, this Court does not have jurisdiction over
this case with Mr. Silvia as the plaintiff. Federal courts
have jurisdiction to hear and determine only “cases or
controversies.” U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. They
are “without power to decide questions that cannot
affect the rights of litigants in the case before
them.” Scallop Shell Nursing & Rehabilitation
v. Gaffett, No. CA 13-471 ML, 2013 WL 5592736, at *4
(D.R.I. Oct. 10, 2013) (quoting North Carolina v.
Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971)). “An actual case
or controversy exists only when the party asserting federal
court jurisdiction establishes ‘such a personal stake
in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete
adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon
which the court so largely depends.'” Vangel v.
Aul, No. CA 15-43L, 2015 WL 5714850, at *3 (D.R.I. June
19, 2015), R & R adopted, No. CA 15-43L, 2015 WL
5714855 (D.R.I. Sept. 29, 2015) (quoting Katz v.
Pershing, LLC, 672 F.3d 64, 71 (1st Cir. 2012)). Mr.
Silvia does not have a personal stake in the outcome of this
Court's review of Mr. Almeida's administrative
hearing decision; Mr. Almeida (or an attorney acting for him)
is the one who may file an action on his own behalf. Mr.
Silvia's complaint fails to establish a case or
controversy and, therefore, should be dismissed based on the
Court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
on the foregoing, I recommend that Mr. Silvia's complaint
be summarily dismissed without prejudice. Any objection to
this report and recommendation must be specific and must be
served and filed with the Clerk of the Court within fourteen
(14) days after its service on the objecting party.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); DRI LR Cv 72(d). Failure
to file specific objections in a timely manner constitutes
waiver of the right to review by the district judge and the
right to appeal the Court's decision. See ...