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West v. West

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

January 25, 2019

EXCELL WEST, III
v.
KRYSTAL I. WEST, ET AL.

          HORNSBY JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Plaintiff, Excell West, III ("Plaintiff), filed this action against Krystal West ("Krystal"), Hawkeye Lien Services ("Hawkeye"), and BMO Harris Bank, NA ("BMO"), alleging that they infringed on his property and took it without his permission. Now pending before the Court are three separate motions. Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 against BMO. [Record Document 11]. Defendant Hawkeye has filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. [Record Document 18]. Defendant BMO has filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) or alternatively, a Motion for a More Definite Statement pursuant to Rule 12(e). [Record Document 28]. These motions have been fully briefed.

         For the reasons discussed below, the motions to dismiss filed by Hawkeye [Record Document 18] and BMO [Record Document 28] are hereby GRANTED and Plaintiffs claims are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment against BMO [Record Document 11] is hereby DENIED AS MOOT.

         Because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs claims against Krystal, those claims are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Excell West, III, appearing pro se, filed suit in this Court against Krystal and Hawkeye. Record Document 1. Plaintiff claims that Krystal made a false contract with Hawkeye to exercise control over his property without his consent. Id. He asserts that they are "infringing and trespassing upon [his] property using a false document." Id. He claims that his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated because he cannot enjoy his property and because his property has been taken without a contract and without payment. Id. Plaintiff seeks relief in the form of $500, 000 or the return of his property. Id.

         In response to this complaint, Magistrate Judge Hornsby issued a Memorandum Order, instructing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint that set forth facts establishing that this Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiffs claims. Record Document 3. The Memorandum Order stated that Plaintiffs amended complaint should (1) specify the law or legal theory that he relies upon to assert a claim, (2) set forth a short and plain statement of the facts that support such a claim, and (3) allege with specificity the state in which each defendant is a citizen. Id. at 1-2. The Memorandum Order also noted that Plaintiff listed BMO as a defendant on his civil cover sheet but did not mention BMO in the body of his complaint. Id. at 2. Plaintiff was instructed to clarify whether BMO is a defendant in this case, and if so, to state a claim against BMO and specify its citizenship. Id.

         Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, stating that he brought this lawsuit under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Record Document 4, p. 1. Plaintiff claims that Krystal and Hawkeye/BMO[1] knowingly and intentionally took land that was donated to him by his father. Id. at 2. Although Plaintiffs claim is difficult to follow, he asserts that Krystal executed a contract in which she falsely claimed that Plaintiffs father, Excell West Jr., was her sibling. Id. According to Plaintiff, Krystal is the daughter of Excell West Jr.'s brother, Lorenzo West. Id. He states that Krystal deceptively executed a contract with "said corporation"-presumably Hawkeye/BMO-on November 12, 2015, "by stating that [his] father was a surviving heir and the brother of her sibling," when in fact his father died on October 13, 2013. Id. The property that this dispute centers around appears to be part of an inheritance from Plaintiffs grandmother, Alta Salone Green Polk. Id; Record Document 4-1, pp. 2 & 5. Plaintiff attached several documents to his amended complaint, one of which reflects that an entity referred to as "Hawkeye Lien Services/BMO Harris" purchased a 1% interest in this disputed property on June 7, 2016, through a tax sale. Record Document 4-1, pp. 3-4.

         Hawkeye filed an answer in which it denied all of Plaintiff s allegations of fact and asserted as affirmative defenses a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, insufficient process and service of process, and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Record Document 8, pp. 1-2. Plaintiff then filed a motion for summary judgment against BMO. Record Document 11. Plaintiff claims that because BMO[2] did not "file an answer, defend or file a pretrial motion" and did not show any genuine disputes of material fact, Plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment. Id. at 1 & 4. Hawkeye filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff fails to establish that this Court has jurisdiction. Record Document 18. BMO filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff has failed to effect proper service, failed to establish the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, and failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Record Document 28.

         MOTIONS TO DISMISS

         "When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with other Rule 12 motions, the court should consider the Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack before addressing any attack on the merits." Ramming v. U.S., 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). Thus, the Court will begin by addressing Hawkeye's and BMO's argument that Plaintiff has failed to establish federal subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. 12(b)(1) Standard[3]

         Motions filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allow a defendant to challenge the subject matter jurisdiction of the court to hear a case. Because federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction must be based on the United States Constitution or additional rules promulgated by Congress. Meadaa v. K.A.P. Enters. LLC, 09-cv-1211, 2011 WL 13073685, at *2 (W.D. La. Sept. 14, 2011). If such jurisdiction is lacking, the case is properly dismissed. Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, Miss.,43 F.3d 1006');">143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). Furthermore, federal courts are bound to examine the basis of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte and dismiss the action if they lack subject matter jurisdiction. Lane v. Halliburton,48');">529 F.3d 548, 565 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Union Planters Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Salih,457');">369 F.3d 457, 460 (5th Cir. 2004) (reversed on jurisdictional challenge not raised until appellate reply brief)). There are two main types of ...


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