United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Hornsby, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Dantes (“Plaintiff”) filed this civil action for
legal malpractice against attorney J. Broocks Greer III, who
represented her in an employment discrimination suit that was
filed in this court. The federal court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's malpractice claim. For the
reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the complaint
be dismissed without prejudice.
represented by attorney Greer, filed a civil action in this
court that asserted claims against Plaintiff's former
employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title
VII. Dantes v. American Electric Power, 15-cv-0528.
The defendants in that case eventually filed a motion for
summary judgment, as well as a Rule 37 motion based on
Plaintiff's alleged failures to appear at her deposition
and provide information requested in discovery. The motions
were noticed for briefing, but Plaintiff did not file a
response to either motion. Judge Hicks entered a reasoned
decision that granted the motion for summary judgment, which
was followed by the entry of a judgment that dismissed the
case with prejudice.
months later, Plaintiff filed a pro se letter in which she
stated that she had recently learned through a Google search
that her attorney did not oppose the motion for summary
judgment and that the case had been dismissed. She made a
request under Rule 60 that the case be reopened. Judge Hicks
denied the request.
now self-represented, then filed this civil action against
attorney Greer. The caption of her petition indicates that it
was perhaps intended for filing in the state court in Caddo
Parish, but Plaintiff filed it with this federal court by
tendering it over the counter. The court's staff
confirmed that the clerk's office suggested to Plaintiff
at the time of filing that she may have intended to file the
petition in state court, as indicated in the caption.
Plaintiff nevertheless insisted on filing the petition in
this court. The clerk then accepted the filing.
complaint describes the prior civil action and contends that
attorney Greer did not consult with Plaintiff about his
decision to not file any opposition to the motion for summary
judgment. Plaintiff alleges that Greer's lack of
consultation was a wrongful act that entitles her to recover
damages from him. Plaintiff attached to her complaint a
letter from the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board that
states that, after initial screening, the Chief Disciplinary
Counsel directed that a formal disciplinary investigation be
is proceeding in forma pauperis (“IFP”). The
court is authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) to review
IFP complaints and dismiss them if they are frivolous. The
court also has a duty to examine the basis for subject matter
jurisdiction. Torres v. Southern Peru Copper Corp.,
113 F.3d 540, 542 (5th Cir. 1997). If subject matter
jurisdiction over the complaint is lacking, dismissal is
appropriate for that reason and pursuant to § 1915.
Humphries v. Various Federal U.S. INS Employees, 164
F.3d 936, 941 (5th Cir. 1999).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a pleading that
seeks relief contain “a short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court's jurisdiction.”
“Because federal courts have limited jurisdiction,
parties must make ‘clear, distinct, and precise
affirmative jurisdictional allegations' in their
pleadings. MidCap Media Fin., L.L.C. v. Pathway Data,
Inc., 929 F.3d 310, 313 (5th Cir. 2019), quoting
Getty Oil Corp. v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 841 F.2d
1254, 1259 (5th Cir. 1988). Plaintiff's complaint does
not set forth any grounds on which she contends the federal
court may exercise jurisdiction. The court will nonetheless
review her factual allegations to determine whether there are
any such grounds.
basis for federal court jurisdiction that is often invoked in
civil disputes is diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. The statute applies only if all persons on one
side of the controversy are citizens of different states than
all persons on the other side. MidCap Media, 929
F.3d at 313. Plaintiff's complaint does not invoke
diversity jurisdiction, and the facts provided do not support
it. The pleadings in the current and former civil actions
indicate that Plaintiff is a citizen of Louisiana. Plaintiff
alleges that Greer practices in Louisiana, and he is known to
this court to ...