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Jones v. Moore

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 3, 2019

RICKEY NELSON JONES
v.
DONNA MOORE, ET AL.

         SECTION: “B” (5)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         Before the Court are defendants Donna Moore, Louis Moore, Giselle Jackson, and Donald Julien & Associates, Inc's (collectively “defendants”) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 11), plaintiff Rickey Nelson Jones's response to motion to dismiss and cross motion for order of default (Rec. Doc. 13), defendants' response to plaintiff's cross motion for order of default (Rec. Doc. 15) and reply to plaintiff's response to defendants' motion to dismiss (Rec. Doc. 20), and plaintiff's sur-reply to defendants' motion to dismiss (Rec. Doc. 23). For the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is GRANTED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the cross motion for order of default is DENIED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff is a resident of Maryland. See Rec. Doc. 1 at 2. He is the personal representative of his mother's will and independent court appointed executor and administrator of his mother's estate. See id. Plaintiff's mother died while domiciled in the Parish of Orleans, state of Louisiana. See Rec. Doc. 11-1 at 2. Defendants are residents of Louisiana. See id. at 1.

         Plaintiff brings this breach of contract action asserting diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Rec. Doc. 1 at 2. The contract concerns plaintiff's mother's real property located at 3430 Franklin Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana (“the Property”). See Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 2. Plaintiff's mother's will states that the Property is to be sold and the proceeds are to be distributed equally amongst five individuals, including plaintiff. See Rec. Doc. 20 at 1. The succession of plaintiff's mother is filed in the Civil District Court of the Parish Orleans, State of Louisiana. See Rec. Doc. 11-1 at 2.

         On January 9, 2019, defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Rec. Doc. 11. On January 11, 2019, plaintiff filed a response and cross motion for order of default. See Rec. Doc. 13. On January 17, 2019, defendants filed a response to plaintiff's cross motion for order of default. See Rec. Doc. 15. On January 23, 2019, defendants filed a reply to plaintiff's response to defendants' motion to dismiss. See Rec. Doc. 20. On March 1, 2019, plaintiff filed a sur-reply to defendants' motion to dismiss. See Rec. Doc. 23.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Orlean Shoring, LLC v. Patterson, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36105, at *6 (E.D. La. 2011). “Because federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, absent jurisdiction conferred by statute, they lack the power to adjudicate claims.” Buck Kreihs Co. v. Ace Fire Underwriters Ins. Co., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12442, at *6 (E.D. La. 2004). Therefore, federal courts must dismiss lawsuits whenever it appears that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking. See Buck Kreihs Co., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12442, at *7.

         Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to move for dismissal of a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. “A 12(b)(1) motion may be appropriate . . . where a defendant alleges that there is no diversity of citizenship between the parties, jurisdictional amount, and/or the plaintiff's claim does not involve a federal question.” Id. at *6. “A federal court cannot adjudicate a case without proper subject matter jurisdiction.” Pilgrim Bank v. Imperial Fire & Cas. Ins. Co., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29299, at *5 (W.D. La. 2006).

         When deciding whether subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, ”a court may evaluate (1) the complaint alone, (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.” Buck Kreihs Co., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12442, at *6. All uncontroverted allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. See id. “The party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of proof on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss and must show that jurisdiction exists.” Lipscomb v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72955, at *3 (E.D. La. 2012).

         For diversity jurisdiction to exist, the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000, and there must be complete diversity between the plaintiff and defendants. See Plaquemines Parish v. BEPCO, L.P., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87880, at *29 (E.D. La. 2015). Complete diversity means that a plaintiff may not be a citizen of the same state as the defendants. See Pilgrim Bank, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29299, at *5. There is no dispute here as to the amount in controversy. The dispute here is whether there is complete diversity between plaintiff and defendants. Specifcally, the dispute is whether plaintiff is a Louisiana or Maryland citizen for diversity purposes. It is undisputed that defendants are Louisiana citizens for diversity purposes.

         Complete diversity between plaintiff and defendants is absent here. Based on submitted matters of record, plaintiff entered into a contract with defendants to sell the Property to distribute the proceeds of the Property amongst the five individuals listed in his mother's will. See Rec. Doc. 20 at 1 (quoting plaintiff's mother's last will and testament). Plaintiff engaged in such action to carry out his fiduciary responsibility as the court appointed executor and administrator of his mother's estate. See La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 3191; see also Rec. Doc. 1 at 2 (stating that plaintiff has a fiduciary responsibility for the Property). Plaintiff offers no evidence that he, in his individual ...


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