United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. MARKS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the court are a motion to dismiss (Doc. 27)
filed on November 5, 2018, a motion to amend (Doc. 32) filed
on November 20, 2018, and a motion to dismiss without
prejudice (Doc. 39), filed on June 28, 2019.
Casualty Company (“Allegheny”) filed this
declaratory judgment action seeking a declaratory judgment
that it has no liability to satisfy the final judgments of
criminal bail bond forfeitures identified in the complaint.
(Doc. 1). Defendant Jamie Neeley Scarbrough
(“Scarbrough”) moved to dismiss the complaint on
the ground that all of the claims in the complaint have been
resolved. (Doc. 27). Allegheny then sought to amend the
complaint to identify new final judgments of bail bond
forfeitures. (Doc. 32). In response to this Court's order
to show cause why the motion to amend ought not be granted,
Scarbrough challenged the court's subject-matter
jurisdiction over the proposed amended complaint (Doc. 35).
Therefore, the Court ordered Allegheny to respond to the
subject-matter jurisdiction argument with respect to both the
proposed amended and the original complaint. (Doc. 36).
response to the Court's order, Allegheny filed a motion
to dismiss without prejudice, representing that the attorney
for Scarbrough did not consent to dismissal, but did not
oppose the filing of the motion. (Doc. 39, at p. 2). Counsel
for Scarbrough then filed a response stating that Scarbrough
does not oppose the motion to dismiss, but does oppose a
dismissal without prejudice. (Doc. 40).
case, jurisdictional concerns were raised about
Allegheny's attempted amendment of the complaint, but the
court also has examined the question of subject-matter
jurisdiction over the original complaint because
“federal courts have an independent obligation to
ensure that they do not exceed the scope of their
jurisdiction, and therefore they must raise and decide
jurisdictional questions that the parties either overlook or
elect not to press.” Henderson ex rel. Henderson v.
Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 434 (2011).
1332 of Title 28 of the United States Code grants federal
subject-matter jurisdiction over actions between citizens of
different states in which the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000. That is the basis for jurisdiction invoked by
Allegheny in the original complaint (Doc. 1) and the proposed
amended complaint. (Doc. 32-1).
facts of this case involve Allegheny's allegations that
Scarbrough has attempted to execute multiple final judgments
of forfeiture of bail bonds against Allegheny even though
Allegheny is not a party to those judgments. (Doc. 1 &
32-1). As noted, Allegheny seeks a declaratory judgment that
it has no liability to satisfy the final judgments of
criminal bail bond forfeitures. The amount in controversy,
therefore, is the amount of the forfeited bail bonds. See
Federated Mut. Ins. Co. v. McKinnon Motors, LLC, 329
F.3d 805, 807 (11th Cir. 2003) (“When a plaintiff seeks
injunctive or declaratory relief, the amount in controversy
is the monetary value of the object of the litigation from
the plaintiff's perspective.”).
given an opportunity to demonstrate that subject-matter
jurisdiction exists in this case, Allegheny has instead
sought dismissal, and has presented no evidence as to the
amount in controversy.
identifying the bonds and their amounts are attached to the
complaint. (Doc. 1). Upon review of the documents attached to
the complaint, the total amount of the bonds identified
equals approximately $40, 000, which is far less than $75,
000. No. other damages are sought in this declaratory
judgment action. Accordingly, upon review of the factual
allegations of the complaint, and the attachments to that
complaint, the court concludes that less than $75, 000 is in
controversy. There also is no federal question in this case.
Therefore, the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and
this case is due to be dismissed without prejudice.
Stalley ex rel. U.S. v. Orlando Reg'l Healthcare
Sys., Inc., 524 F.3d 1229, 1232 (11th Cir. 2008).
(“A dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
is not a judgment on the merits and is entered without
reasons discussed, it is hereby ORDERED that the motion to
dismiss (Doc. 39) is GRANTED to the extent that this case is
DISMISSED without ...