Suing In Federal Court

Most insurance attorneys try to stay out of federal court.  Here, a pro se plaintiff filed his case in federal court.  The case is from the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.  It is styled, Marlon Green v. Covenant Transportation Group, Inc., et al.  The case was dismissed because Green failed to properly plead his case.

Green does not enumerate any specific cause of action or claims, but rather broadly states that “administrative abuses are covered by The Civil Rights Act, and American with Disability Act Rights.”  In the most recent amended complaint, Green alleges that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1332, but avers the claim is less than $75,000.  Green also states “federal law violations include.”  The Court finds, upon review, that Green’s claims should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and for failing to provide addresses for the preparation of service of process on Defendants, as ordered by the Court.

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and must have statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate a claim.  Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction and are authorized to entertain a cause of action only where a question of federal law is involved or where there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

For jurisdiction to exist under section 1332, complete diversity must exist such that no plaintiff and no defendant may be citizens of the same state.  Complete diversity means that a federal court may not exercise diversity jurisdiction if the plaintiff is a domiciliary of the same state as any one of the defendants.  In this case, Green fails to allege both his citizenship and the citizenship of each Defendant.  A party asserting diversity jurisdiction must “distinctly and affirmatively” allege the citizenship of the parties.  Because Green has failed to meet his obligation to distinctly and affirmatively allege the citizenship of the parties in the instant case, he has failed to establish that the Court may exercise subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to section 1332 over this matter.

Furthermore, Green’s allegations establish that the relief sought does not meet the requisite amount in controversy.  Although, there is no requirement in the 5th Circuit that an actual dollar amount must appear on a paper in a suit, the amount in controversy includes all damages available under the law governing the suit, but the party seeking to invoke the court’s jurisdiction must rely on more than conclusory allegations to establish jurisdiction.  Green avers in his Amended Complaint that his “claim is less than $75,000.00,” and that he “would accept $69,999.00” from Defendants.  Green fails to set forth facts in his pleadings that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum, and therefore, the Court is unable to exercise diversity jurisdiction over this matter.

Green alleges “federal law violations include” and elsewhere in his pleadings states “administrative abuses are covered by The Civil Rights Act, and American with Disability Act Rights.”  These are the only statements the Court is able to find potentially related to or intended to assert federal question jurisdiction.  Aside from this bare allegation, Green offers no further facts or allegations that he is entitled to relief under these or any other federal statute.  Mere mention of federal statutes does not rise to the level of invoking federal question jurisdiction.