United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
WAVERLY PLACE AT MADISON SOMERSET APARTMENT MANAGEMENT, Plaintiff,
REBA GUERRIER, Defendant.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Reba Guerrier (“Ms. Guerrier”), who is
representing herself, filed a Notice of Removal (doc. 1) (the
“Notice”) on November 28, 2017, and an Amended
Notice of Removal (doc. 5) (the “Amended Notice”)
on November 29, 2017. Ms. Guerrier's efforts to remove
relate to DV-2012-901347, an action filed by Plaintiff
Waverly Place at Madison Somerset Apartment Management
(“Waverly Place”) in the District Court of
Madison County that has apparently proceeded to judgment in
state court. (See Doc. 5 at 4 (attaching Order
entered on October 26, 2017, denying Ms. Guerrier's
Motion To Set Aside Judgment)). For the reasons discussed below,
this case is due to be remanded for lack of subject matter
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
state courts, federal tribunals are bodies of limited
jurisdiction, meaning that the grounds for the Court's
jurisdiction over the claims asserted by the plaintiff must
be present at the time the complaint is filed and must be
obvious on the face of the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). The
law is clear that Ms. Guerrier, the party seeking to invoke
federal jurisdiction in this case, has the burden to
demonstrate that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction.
See McNutt v. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. of Ind.,
298 U.S. 178, 189, 56 S.Ct. 780, 785, 80 L.Ed. 1135 (1936)
(“They are conditions which must be met by the party
who seeks the exercise of jurisdiction in his favor ….
[and a]s he is seeking relief subject to this supervision, it
follows that he must carry throughout the litigation the
burden of showing that he is properly in court.”).
“a federal court has an independent obligation to
review its authority to hear a case before it proceeds to the
merits.” Mirage Resorts, Inc. v. Quiet Nacelle
Corp., 206 F.3d 1398, 1400-01 (11th Cir. 2000).
Consequently, the Court cannot ignore jurisdictional concerns
even if the parties have none. Relatedly, the Court is
equipped with the power to order a sua sponte remand
when it finds the absence of subject matter jurisdiction.
a defendant removes a case to federal court, the primary
jurisdictional statutes that are invoked are 28 U.S.C. §
1331 (federal question) and 28 U.S.C. § 1332
(diversity). Here, Ms. Guerrier has vaguely mentioned both as
bases for this Court's exercise of subject matter
jurisdiction. (Doc. 5 at 2). However, because both the Notice
and Amended Notice are so deficient, the Court cannot verify
the existence of subject matter jurisdiction under either
Ms. Guerrier Has Not Shown Diversity Jurisdiction.
to § 1332 first, “[d]iversity jurisdiction exists
where the suit is between citizens of different states and
the amount in controversy exceeds the statutorily prescribed
amount, in this case $75, 000.” Williams v. Best
Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)). Therefore, removal jurisdiction based
upon diversity requires: (1) complete diversity of
citizenship between the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s);
and (2) satisfaction of the amount-in-controversy
Ms. Guerrier has not provided any information about the
citizenship of the parties, much less established that this
lawsuit is between citizens of different states. Further,
because the underlying complaint is not attached to the
Notice or the Amended Notice, the Court cannot evaluate
whether the amount-in-controversy component is satisfied.
Therefore, Ms. Guerrier has not established the presence of
diversity jurisdiction to support her removal.
Ms. Guerrier Has Not Shown Federal Question
1331 provides that “[t]he district courts shall have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. Under § 1331, federal courts have
jurisdiction to hear “only those cases in which a
well-pleaded complaint establishes either that federal law
creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right
to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial
question of federal law.” Franchise Tax Bd. v.
Constr. Laborers Vacation Tr., 463 U.S. 1, 27-28, 103
S.Ct. 2841, 2856, 77 L.Ed.2d 420 (1983). Thus, to sustain
federal question jurisdiction in this case, Ms. Guerrier must
demonstrate either: (1) the existence of a federal law that
potentially creates a cause of action for Waverly Place based
on the allegations of its complaint, or (2) that disposition
of this case, as alleged by Waverly Place, depends on the
resolution of a substantial federal question.
Guerrier has met neither one of these standards. Instead,
federal question jurisdiction is simply stated, but not
explained at all. (Doc. 5 at 2). Further, federal question
jurisdiction cannot be created by anything outside of the
complaint which critical document (as noted above) Ms.
Guerrier has omitted from her removal papers. See Merrell
Dow Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson,478 U.S. 804, 808, 106
S.Ct. 3229, 3232, 92 L.Ed.2d 650 (1986) (“Since a
defendant may remove a case only if the claim could have been
brought in federal court, 28 U.S.C. § ...