United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
CHALMERS A. SIMPSON, JR., Plaintiff
GOOD 2 GO and OMNI INS. CO., Defendants
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge.
BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
matter previously came before the Court for screening review
of a pro se civil action. The plaintiff, a resident
of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, filed this lawsuit against
insurance companies that he alleges are located in Lancaster
County, Pennsylvania, alleging breach of an insurance
contract and some unspecified civil rights violations. (Doc.
1.) Along with this complaint, the plaintiff filed a motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 2.)
October 9, 2019, we conditionally granted this motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis and directed that
the lodged pro se complaint be deemed filed but
placed Mr. Simpson on notice that the complaint as drafted
failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in
federal court. (Doc. 5). As we explained, it is well-settled
that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. As a
general rule, there are two primary grounds for federal
district court jurisdiction over a civil lawsuit. First,
“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). This ground of federal jurisdiction
is known as diversity jurisdiction. The second principal
ground for invoking the jurisdiction of a federal court is
known as federal question jurisdiction. Under this ground of
jurisdiction, “district courts shall have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. §1331.
first to Mr. Simpson's state law breach of insurance
contract claims, as to these claims the complaint did not
allege any “civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, ”
28 U.S.C. §1331, giving rise to federal question
jurisdiction. Instead, Simpson simply brought state law
breach of contract claims in federal court. However, the
plaintiff may not assert federal jurisdiction over these
state claims, since we can only exercise federal jurisdiction
over such state law claims in “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) (emphasis added). In the instant case, this
court's diversity jurisdiction simply did not provide a
basis for exercising jurisdiction over this particular
controversy since the complaint recited that the plaintiff
and the defendants are all citizens and residents of
Pennsylvania. Given that the complaint revealed on its face
that this lawsuit is not between citizens of different
states, the plaintiff simply could not invoke diversity
jurisdiction in this matter. In fact, this court has
previously held that Pennsylvania resident plaintiffs like
Mr. Simpson may not maintain state law claims against
Pennsylvania resident defendants in federal court. In
dismissing and refusing to reinstate a similar lawsuit, this
court noted in terms that are equally applicable here that:
“Plaintiff's Complaint indicates that both he and
Defendant . . . are located and domiciled in Pennsylvania.
Thus, there is not diversity jurisdiction over this action
because ‘complete diversity is lacking when the
plaintiff is a citizen of one state and a defendant is a
citizen of that same state.' Brett v. Brett, No.
12-3301, 2012 WL 5450879, at *1 (3d Cir. Nov.8, 2012) (citing
Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412,
420 (3d Cir.2010))” Boldrini v. Bruno, No.
CIV.A. 3:11-1401, 2013 WL 619610, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 19,
2013). Consequently, we have consistently concluded that
where a pro se complaint brings state law claims and
reveals on its face that there is no diversity of
citizenship, screening dismissal of that pleading in favor of
state court litigation is entirely appropriate. See e.g.,
Baker v. Leitzel, No. 1:18-CV-1366, 2018 WL 3640419, at
*3 (M.D. Pa. July 11, 2018), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 1:18-CV-1366, 2018 WL 3631289 (M.D. Pa.
July 31, 2018); Mendez v. Strohlein, No.
3:17-CV-1141, 2017 WL 3084104, at *3 (M.D. Pa. June 29,
2017), report and recommendation adopted, No.
3:17-CV-1141, 2017 WL 3084094 (M.D. Pa. July 19, 2017).
reached these conclusions, we placed Mr. Simpson on notice
that this complaint was subject to summary dismissal, and
ordered that on or before November 1, 2019,
the plaintiff should either attempt to amend his complaint to
state a federal claim within the jurisdiction of this court
or withdraw this federal complaint and file this action in
the appropriate court, the state Court of Common Pleas.
Simpson responded to this order by filing a motion which
requested that we transfer his federal lawsuit to the Court
of Common Pleas. (Doc. 6). Unfortunately, we cannot grant
this request because it has been held that where there was no
diversity jurisdiction and no federal subject-matter
jurisdiction over a case filed in federal court, the federal
district court should dismiss the case, rather than order
case transferred to state court. McLaughlin v. Arco
Polymers, Inc., 721 F.2d 426 (3d Cir. 1983). In short,
in this unusual setting, Mr. Simpson's remedy is to
voluntarily dismiss this federal case, or have the federal
case dismissed by this court, without prejudice to Mr.
Simpson separately filing an action in state court.
Accordingly, we must DENY this motion to transfer (Doc. 6).
Instead, Mr. Simpson is advised that on or before
January 6, 2020, the plaintiff should: (1)