United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
C. MARKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
September 12, 2018, pro se plaintiff Rufus McDougald
(“McDougald”) filed this action against
defendants Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Robert Richardson and Chad
Ballew. According to McDougald, these defendants made
allegedly defamatory statements about him. See Doc.
# 1. He seeks “$1-Billion Cash Money.”
Id. On September 18, 2018, the Court ordered the
plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be dismissed
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Doc. #
3. On September 27, 2018, the plaintiff filed a convoluted
and conclusory response alleging that the Court had federal
question jurisdiction over this matter because the defendants
had deprived him of his First and Fourth Amendment rights.
Upon review of the complaint, and the plaintiff's
response, the Court concludes that this case should be
dismissed prior to service for lack of subject matter
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377
(1994); Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092,
1095 (11th Cir. 1994). Thus, federal courts only
have the power to hear cases as authorized by the
Constitution or the laws of the United States, see
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377, and are required to inquire
into their jurisdiction at the earliest possible point in the
proceeding. Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168
F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999). In addition, Fed
R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) requires that “[w]herever it
appears . . . that the court lacks jurisdiction, the court
shall dismiss the action.” This Court operates under an
independent obligation to examine its own jurisdiction which
continues at each stage of the proceedings, even if no party
raises the jurisdictional issue and the parties are prepared
to concede it. FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493
U.S. 215 (1990). “It is axiomatic that a district court
may inquire into the basis of its subject matter jurisdiction
at any stage of the proceedings.” See 13 C.
Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice &
Procedure 3522 (1975).
Federal Question Jurisdiction.
not appear from a review of the complaint that the plaintiff
presents a federal question sufficient to invoke this
court's federal question jurisdiction. See 28
U.S.C. § 1331. In his complaint, McDougald alleges that
the defendants made “allegedly defamatory
statements” against him. See Doc. # 1. In his
response to the Court's order, he alleges in a vague and
conclusory manner that his constitutional rights were
violated. Thus, it appears that the plaintiff is attempting
to invoke the Court's federal question jurisdiction by
proceeding against the named defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Although he refers to the First and Fourth
Amendments, McDougald does not present sufficient facts to
support a constitutional claim. No. substantive rights are
created by Section 1983; it merely provides a remedy for
deprivations of federal rights created elsewhere. Wideman
v. Shallowford Cmty Hosp., Inc., 826 F.2d 1030
(11th Cir. 1987). To be successful on § 1983
claim, a plaintiff must “prove (1) a violation of a
constitutional right, and (2) that the alleged
violation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” Holmes v. Crosby, 418 F.3d
1256, 1258 (11th Cir. 2005) (emphasis added). An
essential element of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is that
the alleged constitutional deprivation was committed by a
person acting under color of state law. American Mfrs.
Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40 (1999).
“[T]he under-color-of-state-law element of § 1983
excludes from its reach “ ‘merely private
conduct, no matter how discriminatory or
wrongful.'” Id. at 50.
not sufficient for the plaintiff to merely assert that his
First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the
defendants. In order for the Court to have jurisdiction over
this matter, McDougald must allege some facts to support his
allegations. In his complaint, McDougal contends that
defendant Robert Richardson is a manager at the Wal-Mart in
Dothan, Alabama, and defendant Chad Ballew is the loss
prevention officer at that store. Clearly, both defendants
are private citizens. Thus, McDougald presents no facts from
which the Court could conclude Richardson or Ballew were
acting under color of state law for the purpose of imposing
§ 1983 liability against them. Lowe v.
Aldridge, 958 F.2d 1565, 1572 (11th Cir.
1992) (“”[o]nly in rare circumstances can a
private party be viewed as a ‘state actor.')
(alteration in original). While a complaint need not contain
“detailed factual allegations, ” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), it
must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Consequently, the Court
concludes that it does not have jurisdiction pursuant to its
federal question jurisdiction.
Court also has jurisdiction over actions involving citizens
of different states provided that all plaintiffs are diverse
from all defendants, see Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7
U.S. 267 (1806), and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(b). From the facts asserted in the
complaint, it appears that plaintiff McDougald and defendants
Richardson and Ballew are all citizens of Alabama. Thus, the
court does not have diversity jurisdiction over this matter.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
short, this court lacks jurisdiction over the plaintiff's
claims, and this case is due to be dismissed. Accordingly,
the complaint is due to be dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
reasons as stated, the court concludes that this case should
be dismissed prior to service of process. Accordingly, it is
and ADJUDGED that this case be and is hereby DISMISSED prior
to service of process, all claims against the defendants be
and are hereby DISMISSED, ...