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Murphy v. National City Bank of Cleveland

June 28, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, Chief District Judge.



Defendants, National City Bank of Cleveland and John H. Harland Company, have filed Motions to Dismiss the Complaint based on Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Docket Nos. 6 and 9). Pro Se Plaintiff, Craig Murphy, has filed a Brief In Opposition thereto. (Docket No. 15). After careful consideration of the submissions of the parties, and based on my Opinion set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss at Docket No. 6 is granted and the Motion to Dismiss at Docket No. 9 is denied as moot.


Pro Se Plaintiff, Craig D. Murphy, filed his complaint against National City Bank of Cleveland and John H. Harland Company. (Docket No. 3). Therein, Plaintiff asserts that this case is brought to recover money damages from Defendants "as a result of their wrongful dishonor of the Plaintiff's negotiable instrument in the form of a draft or check when the Defendants had a duty to do so" pursuant to U.C.C. §4-402. See, Complaint, ¶1. Defendant, National City Bank of Pennsylvania, misidentified as National City Bank of Cleveland, filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of diversity jurisdiction (both diversity and amount in controversy) and based on the statute of limitations. (Docket No. 6). Defendant, John H. Harland Company, filed a Motion to Dismiss for the following reasons: 1) lack of diversity jurisdiction for failure to satisfy the amount in controversy; 2) barred by the statute of limitations; 3) barred by the economic loss doctrine; and 4) failure to state a cause of action. (Docket No. 9). Pro Se Plaintiff has responded thereto. (Docket No. 15). The issues are now ripe for review.


A. Standard Of Review

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure challenges the jurisdiction of the court to address the merits of the plaintiff's suit. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). In other words, it "attacks . . . the right of a plaintiff to be heard in Federal court." Cohen v. Kurtzman, 45 F. Supp.2d 423, 428 (D. N.J. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(1) attack may argue that the plaintiff's federal claim is immaterial and made solely for the purpose of obtaining federal jurisdiction, is insubstantial and frivolous or, alternatively, the attack may be directed at "the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact." Mortensen v. First Federal Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). In a Rule 12(b)(1) motion based on the existence of jurisdiction, no presumption of truthfulness attaches to the allegations of the plaintiff (in contrast to the presumption applied under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion or a Rule 12(b)(1) motion based on immateriality). Id. The plaintiff bears the burden of persuading the court that it has jurisdiction as compared to the burden of the defendant under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion of convincing the court that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim. Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1222 (1991). Because the court must determine whether jurisdiction exists before it may proceed to the merits of a case, the court may make factual findings which are decisive to the issue. Cohen, 45 F.Supp.2d at 429, citing Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 905 F.2d 42, 45 (3d Cir. 1990). If I determine that this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case, I must dismiss the action. Robinson v. Dalton, 107 F.3d 1018, 1020 (3d Cir. 1997).

In deciding a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to 12(b)(6), all factual allegations and all reasonable inferences therefrom, must be accepted as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Colburn v. Upper Darby Township, 838 F.2d 663, 666 (3d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1065 (1988). I may dismiss a complaint only if it appears beyond a reasonable doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims which would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45 (1957). In ruling on a motion for failure to state a claim, I must look to "whether sufficient facts are pleaded to determine that the complaint is not frivolous, and to provide defendants with adequate notice to frame an answer."

Colburn, 838 F.2d at 666.

While a court will accept well-pleaded allegations as true for the purposes of the motion, it will not accept legal or unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See, Miree v. DeKalb County, Ga., 433 U.S. 25, 27 n. 2 (1977). Moreover, the plaintiff must set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of his claims or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist. See, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); Conley, 355 U.S. at 45-46. Thus, when ruling upon a 12(b)(6) motion, a district court is limited to considering the facts as they are alleged in the complaint, anything properly attached thereto and matters of public record. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); 10(c). In addition, courts may consider exhibits that the defendant attaches to its motion to dismiss if they are undisputedly authentic and the plaintiff's complaints are based on them. Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Industries, Inc., 998 F.2d 1192 (3d Cir.1993).

In addition, courts must hold the allegations in a pro se complaint "to less stringent standards than those drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Courts must also construe pro se complaints liberally. Id.

B. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Since jurisdiction is a threshold matter, I address this issue first. The subject matter jurisdiction of this Court is based on diversity pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง1332. See, ...

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