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Katz v. Fiat/Chrysler Automobiles

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 26, 2015

FRANK KATZ, Plaintiff,
v.
FIAT/CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court is the complaint of pro se Plaintiff, Frank Katz, filed on January 7, 2015. (Doc. 1). For the reasons provided herein, the Court will sua sponte dismiss the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

I. BACKGROUND

On January 7, 2015, Katz filed a complaint against Fiat/Chrysler Automobiles (Doc. 1), together with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis . (Doc. 2). On February 13, this Court denied Katz leave to proceed in forma pauperis on the basis that he failed to complete his AO 240 form describing the amounts of any current debts or financial obligations. The Court directed him to file a complete AO 240 form or alternatively pay the $400 filing fee. (Doc. 6). On February 25, 2015, Katz submitted the $400 filing fee. (Doc. 6). Katz's claims arise from Fiat/Chrysler's recall of 1.56 million older Jeep models in June, 2013, due to safety concerns resulting from rear-mounted plastic fuel tanks that allegedly rupture on collision. (Doc. 1). Specifically, he claims that while the dealership installed a trailer hitch on the rear of his wife's Jeep as an added layer of protection pursuant to the recall, those repairs were not completed in a timely manner. (Doc. 1).

II. SUBJECT-MATTER JURISDICTION

According to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), "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 citizens of different States." A federal court is required to assess its own jurisdiction over any controversy it may hear, even when the parties have not asserted any jurisdictional question. See Carlsberg Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d Cir. 1977)("[Federal Courts] are without power to adjudicate the substantive claims in a lawsuit, absent a firm bedrock of jurisdiction."). Consequently, doubts with respect to subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised sua sponte by the Court. Indeed, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3) requires a court to sua sponte dismiss an action at any time for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. It provides: "If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

In assessing its jurisdiction over the claims presented pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3), the court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint, and "the allegations of the complaint should be construed favorably to the pleader." New York v. Microsoft Corp., 209 F.Supp.2d 132, 138 n. 6 (D.D.C.2002) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), abrogated on other grounds by Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)). However, the court may consider facts beyond the pleadings in determining whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction. See Land v. Dollar, 330 U.S. 731, 735 n. 4 (1947).

In his complaint, Katz alleges that the case is subject to diversity jurisdiction, as Defendant's corporate headquarters is located in Wayne, Michigan. (Doc. 1). However, Katz fails to allege that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 for purposes of establishing diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996). As Katz has failed to allege an amount in controversy in satisfaction of 28.U.S.C. § 1332(a)'s jurisdictional minimum, the Court must sua sponte dismiss Katz's complaint without prejudice for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.[1]

III. RECOMMENDATION

Based on the foregoing, it is recommended that:

1. The complaint (Doc. 1) be DISMISSED for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3);
2. Plaintiff be granted thirty (30) days leave from the date of this Order to amend his complaint in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a); and
3. This matter be recommitted to the undersigned for ...

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