United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
K. DuBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a sua sponte Show
Cause Order (Doc. 81), Betts' Response (Doc. 82), and
Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois's Reply (Doc. 85).
For the reasons explained below, Betts' claim against
Safeco is DISMISSED for want of subject
matter jurisdiction. Betts' claim against Progressive
Specialty Insurance Company is also
DISMISSED for the same unless Progressive
files an objection showing cause by October 27, 2017.
state law claims arise from an accident in Texas. While
driving a tanker for his employer, an uninsured motorist
rear-ended Betts. Because the accident involved an uninsured
motorist, Betts filed suit against three insurance companies
under their respective uninsured motorist policies.
originally sued three entities in state court, which was
later removed to federal court. (1:16-cv-00254-KD-N). For
reasons unrelated to the current issue, Betts dismissed the
removed case and re-filed anew in federal court. (Doc. 1). In
Betts' second action, his complaint cited 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332 as the statute providing the Court subject matter
jurisdiction over his claims.
review of Safeco's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
71-1), the Court questioned whether the Court had subject
matter jurisdiction over Betts' claims. As a result, the
Court issued a Show Cause Order to Betts inquiring as to the
Court's subject matter jurisdiction. (Doc. 81). The Court
noted its concern centered upon whether Betts' claims
satisfied § 1332's amount in controversy
requirement. (Doc. 81). Betts filed a response to the Show
Cause Order in which he conceded his claims against both
Safeco and Progressive do not satisfy the amount in
controversy requirement. (Doc. 81 at 3). Safeco then moved
for leave to submit a reply to Betts' response. (Doc.
83). The Court granted Safeco leave and ordered Safeco to
specifically 28 U.S.C. § 1367(b)'s applicability to
Betts' claims. (Doc. 84).
Discussion of Law
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. As a result of
this limitation, federal district courts have the power and
“obligation at any time to inquire into
jurisdiction[.]”Am. Civil Liberties Union of
Florida, Inc. v. City of Sarasota, 859 F.3d 1337, 1340
(11th Cir. 2017) (quoting Fitzgerald v. Seaboard Sys.
R.R., 760 F.2d 1249, 1251 (11th Cir. 1985)). And once a
court concludes it lacks subject matter jurisdiction,
“the court is powerless to continue.” Univ.
of S. Alabama v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410
(11th Cir. 1999).
courts “are ‘empowered to hear only those cases
within the judicial power of the United States as defined by
Article III of the Constitution' and that have been
entrusted to them by a jurisdictional grant authorized by
Congress.” PTA-FLA, Inc. v. ZTE USA, Inc., 844
F.3d 1299, 1304 (11th Cir. 2016) (quoting Taylor v.
Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994)).
“Congress has the constitutional authority to define
the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts and, once the
lines are drawn, limits upon federal jurisdiction must be
neither disregarded nor evaded.” PTA-FLA,
Inc., 844 F.3d at 1304 (quoting Keene Corp. v.
United States, 508 U.S. 200, 207 (1993)) (internal
main statutes confer original jurisdiction: 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 and 1332. The former statute provides a
"federal forum for plaintiffs who seek to vindicate
federal rights . . . under the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States.” Exxon Mobil Corp.
v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005).
The latter “provide[s] a neutral forum for what have
come to be known as diversity cases, [that is] civil actions
between citizens of different States, between U.S. citizens
and foreign citizens, or by foreign states against U.S.
citizens.” Exxon, 545 U.S. at 552.
restricted diversity cases to those “where the matter
in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000 . . .
.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). In order to satisfy the
requirements of § 1332, the parties must be completely
diverse, Univ. of S. Alabama, 168 F.3d at 412
(citing Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch)
267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806)), and the matter in controversy must
exceed $75, 000. To justify dismissal, “it must appear
to a legal certainty that the claim” does not exceed
$75, 000. Federated Mut. Ins. Co. v. McKinnon Motors,
LLC, 329 F.3d 805, 807 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting St.
Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283,
289 (1938)). However, if a party asserts jurisdiction
“based on a claim for indeterminate damages, the
Red Cab Co. ‘legal certainty' test gives
way, and the party ...