United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ELLIS LEE SANDIFER, JR.
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Fred Hopkins's motion to dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). For the reasons
that follow, the motion is GRANTED.
litigation arises from allegations that the defendant
perpetrated a hate crime against the plaintiff by beating him
with a stick, smashing the back windshield of the
plaintiff's car, and threatening to kill the plaintiff
with a shotgun. All allegedly motivated by the Black Lives
a.m. on July 9, 2016, Ellis Lee Sandifer, Jr. drove to the
house of his cousin, David Brady, on General Pershing Street
in New Orleans. Sandifer and Brady had planned to go car
shopping for Sandifer's daughter. When he arrived at
Brady's house, Sandifer honked his car's horn and
decided to smoke a cigarette while he waited. Meanwhile,
Brady's neighbor, Frank Hopkins, walked across the street
from his house; he approached Sandifer with a stick in his
hand, while screaming at Sandifer about the Black Lives
Matter movement and the murders of the Dallas police
officers. Thinking Hopkins (a white male) was joking,
Sandifer (a black male) laughed. But Hopkins was not joking.
Hopkins yelled at Sandifer: “You can't do what you
want around here. Turn your music down.” Sandifer
leaned into his car, retrieved his pack of cigarettes, and
went inside Brady's house.
minutes later, Sandifer returned to and got into his car.
Hopkins also returned to Sandifer's car, still carrying a
stick, and yelled at Sandifer about the Dallas and Baton
Rouge police shootings. Sandifer told Hopkins that he did not
want to hear about that. Hopkins poked Sandifer's car
with the stick. Sandifer told Hopkins “it is too early
for all that and no one have time for this.” Hopkins
then hit Sandifer's car with the stick he was carrying.
Sandifer exited his car and asked Hopkins, “what's
your problem?” Hopkins responded by walking to the back
of Sandifer's car and with the stick, hitting the back
windshield so hard it shattered.
Sandifer could react, Hopkins then began swinging the stick
at Sandifer's face. As Sandifer raised his left arm to
block his head and face from the stick, the stick struck his
left arm three or four times, ultimately causing his arm to
break. After Hopkins stopped hitting Sandifer with the stick,
he walked across the street to his garage and retrieved a
shotgun. Hopkins screamed about black people generally and
also threatened Sandifer, “I'll kill you!”
Sandifer yelled back, “It's not that serious.
What's your problem?” Hopkins continued to yell
about the Black Lives Matter movement and police shootings.
Hopkins then went inside his house. When he emerged, he got
into his truck, backed up and hit the car parked behind him,
and sped off.
reported the incident to New Orleans Police Department
officers, who arrived on scene along with an ambulance, which
transported Sandifer to the Ochsner Baptist Hospital. When
x-rays revealed that surgery was necessary to repair his
broken arm, Sandifer was admitted to the hospital. The next
day, he underwent surgery. Unable to work as a United States
Postal Service mail carrier during his recovery, Sandifer was
not accumulating the hours he needed to maintain insurance
10, 2017, Sandifer, pro se, sued Hopkins, seeking to recover
compensatory damages. He alleges that he and Hopkins are both
Louisiana residents, and that the Court has federal question
subject matter jurisdiction based on 28 U.S.C. § 1331
and 18 U.S.C. § 249. Hopkins now seeks to dismiss
Sandifer's complaint on the ground that this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only
the authority granted by the United States Constitution and
conferred by the United States Congress. Howery v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001).
Indeed, "[i]t is to be presumed that a cause lies
outside this limited jurisdiction, " the Supreme Court
has observed, "and the burden of establishing the
contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction."
Kokkonen v. Guardina Life Ins. Co. of Am.,
511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)(citations omitted). If the Court
lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate a
claim, the claim must be dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. Home Builders Ass'n of
Mississippi, Inc. v. City of Madison, Miss., 143 F.3d
1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). A dismissal based on lack of
subject matter jurisdiction “is not a determination of
the merits and [therefore] does not prevent the plaintiff
from pursuing a claim in a court that [has] proper
jurisdiction.” Ramming v. United States, 281
F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001).
filed under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure allow a party to challenge the Court's subject
matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The burden of
proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party
asserting jurisdiction. King v. U.S. Dep't of
Veterans Affairs, 728 F.3d 410, 416 (5th Cir. 2013);
Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161. To meet that burden, the
party asserting jurisdiction “must prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that the court has jurisdiction
based on the complaint and evidence.” King,
728 F.3d at 413. The Court may find a plausible set of facts
to support subject matter jurisdiction by considering any of
the following: “(1) the complaint alone; (2) the
complaint supplemented by undisputed facts ...