United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
May 18, 2005.
SOLOMON DANCEY, Plaintiff,
ERIC RICHARDSON, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN E. JONES, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
On December 2, 2004, Plaintiff Solomon Dancey ("Plaintiff" or
"Dancey"), proceeding pro se, filed a complaint in the United
States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
against Defendant Eric Richardson ("Defendant" or "Richardson")
and filed an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.
In the complaint, Plaintiff completely fails to invoke the
Court's federal jurisdiction. The Court's understanding of
Plaintiff's claim is that he worked for Defendant doing
construction in exchange for renting a room where Plaintiff
maintains Defendant's other property as a safe house. (See Rec.
Doc. 1 at ¶ 3). Apparently, after having given Defendant information concerning a
close personal friend's drug use, the residence was "sabotaged"
and Plaintiff later discovered that his personal belongings were
stolen by the Defendant. As compensation, Plaintiff requests that
specific items that were allegedly taken or damaged be returned
or that Plaintiff receive the fair market value of such items.
Id. at ¶ 4.
Nowhere on the face of the complaint does Plaintiff address the
Court's jurisdiction except to state on the civil cover sheet
that he is filing "a person to person suit to recover all items
in his possession to replace or fix any damage and or to retain
face value of all stolen item with honest estimate." Id. at 3.
As a federal court with limited jurisdiction, we may only hear
a case if the Constitution or a federal statute provides us with
jurisdiction. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
America, 511 U.S. 375, 378 (1994). Subject matter jurisdiction
may arise in one of two forms: diversity jurisdiction or federal
Where jurisdiction is based upon diversity, the matter in
controversy must exceed $75,000 and there must be complete
diversity of citizenship between the parties. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332. In this case, the addresses Plaintiff provides for both parties are that of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Plaintiff
has noted on the civil cover sheet that both parties are citizens
of the same state. We therefore conclude that there is no
complete diversity of citizenship between the parties.*fn2
Accordingly, we will alternatively consider whether the Court's
jurisdiction over this matter may be predicated upon the
existence of a federal question.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, federal courts have been granted
original jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
28 U.S.C. § 1331. The determination of whether a claim arises under federal
law, and therefore presents a federal question, "is governed by
the `well-pleaded complaint rule,' which provides that federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on
the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint."
Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987)
(citing Gully v. First National Bank, 299 U.S. 109, 112-13
(1936)); see also Dukes v. U.S. Healthcare, Inc.,
57 F.3d 350, 353 (3d Cir. 1995).
After a thorough review of the complaint, the Court does not
find that Plaintiff has asserted a claim that presents a federal
question. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h) provides that
"[w]henver it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject
matter, the court shall dismiss the action." Fed.R.Civ.P.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. Plaintiff's complaint (doc. 1) shall be dismissed
2. Plaintiff's Application to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis (doc. 2) is denied as moot.
3. The Clerk is directed to close the file on this