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Melnick v. CNBC Studio

United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

October 24, 2014

CNBC STUDIO, Defendant.



This matter is one of 29 cases filed by the plaintiff pro se, Mr. Scott Jeffrey Melnick, in which he is attempting to collect hundreds of millions of dollars based on alleged contracts by which he provided advice to various individuals and entities as to how to win the lottery.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the court will order the plaintiff to show cause why the court should not dismiss the complaint in this case for (1) lack of subject-matter jurisdiction or (2) lack of timely service of process under Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.


The plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant, CNBC Studio, by filing a complaint on May 29, 2014. See Doc. No. 1.[2] In the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and the defendant has an address in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. See Compl. at 1-2. The plaintiff asserts that the court has diversity jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Id. at 2. The plaintiff also avers that his state of citizenship is “PA, ” and the defendant’s states of citizenship are “PA, TX, NJ.” Id. at 3.

Regarding the factual allegations in support of the plaintiff’s purported claims, the complaint is confusing, mostly incomprehensible and, thus, it is difficult for the court to ascertain precisely what the plaintiff is asserting with regard to the named defendant in this case. The plaintiff generally alleges that he “thought to explain [his] ‘phobia’ in lieu [of] an attempt to future Mega millions and Powerball, Multi-State Lottery Association, lottery strikes so to win by proxy.” Id. At some point, he contacted the defendant and a “Mr. Cramer” answered his call. Id. He and Mr. Cramer then discussed his chances of suing the defendant, and his call was eventually “levied” to two different cities, until he eventually spoke to a “Miss Lee.” Id.

After these allegations, the plaintiff’s complaint digresses into areas by which the court cannot ascertain what he is stating. In this regard, after mentioning the phone calls to Mr. Cramer and Miss Lee, the plaintiff discusses his presence in a restaurant and he references some “matter” involving a cashier and a “gentleman who stood beside her.” Id. He then states that he is “uncertain whether CNBC took the job of spying the place[, ]” which presumably means the restaurant. Id. The plaintiff next indicates that “[t]he games were on 03-22-13, 03-23-13, 04-23-13, 04-26-13, [and] 04-27-13 as [he] was to involve a second visit to a new waiter in union with two excited ladies who had arrived in perfect time.” Id.

The plaintiff goes on to describe his injuries as follows:

The business of having lost so much money in such a short amount of time is extremely hurtful. The odds of the gamble are meaningfully ambivalent because they stole my service to their being clean of conspiracy, they stole/EMBEZZLED my jackpot money in lieu of a cure foregoing the need for restitution. Their work was clearly in lieu of a generous reward because the cash was in their hands. “It seems this is what I do, ” I explained my person to the two.

Id. at 4. He seeks damages totaling $248, 622, 318.65. Id. He further notes that “[i]t’s hard to tell exactly what they owe, whereas the interest is so much, so I’ll just add twenty million to their debt of gratitude.” Id.

It appears that the Clerk of Court’s office issued the summons to the plaintiff on June 2, 2014. See 5-29-14 Unnumbered Docket Entry After Doc. No. 1 (showing issuance to plaintiff on June 2, 2014). This was the last activity in the case as reflected on the docket.


Although there appear to be significant issues with the merits of the claims in the complaint insofar as the plaintiff is attempting to collect money resulting from a lottery that the defendant may or, most likely, may not have won, the court will not address those issues at this point. Instead, there are two preliminary issues requiring resolution: First, it does not appear that the court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this action. Second, it does not appear that the plaintiff has properly effected service of the complaint and summons as required by Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

With regard to subject-matter jurisdiction, the party asserting federal jurisdiction “bears the burden of showing that the case is properly before the court at all stages of the litigation.” Packard v. Provident Nat’l Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1045 (3d Cir. 1993). Although the only document of record so far is the complaint, the court is obliged to address issues of subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte. See Trent Realty Assocs. v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n of Philadelphia, 657 F.2d 29, 36 (3d Cir. 1981) (“A federal court is bound to consider its own jurisdiction preliminary to consideration of the merits.”). If the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).

As indicated above, the plaintiff indicates that the court has diversity of citizenship jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Compl. at 2.[3] The diversity statute provides in relevant part that the “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . (1) citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Courts have uniformly held that this statute demands “complete diversity of citizenship, ” a requirement that is not satisfied “unless each defendant is a citizen of a different [s]tate from each plaintiff.” Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978) (emphasis in original) (footnote omitted). In determining citizenship, “[a] natural person is deemed to be a citizen of the state where she is domiciled.” Swiger v. Allegheny Energy, Inc., 540 F.3d 179, 182 (3d Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Moreover, although a “corporation is a citizen both of the state where it is incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business, ” “the citizenship of partnerships and other unincorporated associations is determined by the citizenship of its partners or members.” Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412, 419-20 (3d Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Furthermore, ...

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