Carroll v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge T Michael Putnam on 2/7/18. (MRR, )
2018 Feb-07 PM 04:08
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JAMES N. CARROLL,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 2:17-cv-00391-TMP
Pending before the court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by the defendant,
United States of America, on June 23, 2017. (Doc. 12). The pro se Amended
Complaint was filed on April 21, 2017. (Doc. 7). Although the complaint names
only the United States of America as a defendant, it alleges a complex land-title
dispute which apparently led to the plaintiff putting his construction company, JBJ
Construction into bankruptcy. 1 The motion to dismiss this action has been fully
briefed, and the parties have consented to the exercise of dispositive jurisdiction by
a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 16). Accordingly, the
court enters the following Order granting the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
Mr. Carroll’s woes did not end there. He was charged criminally with defrauding the
bankruptcy court by failing to disclose all of the bankrupt company’s assets and income. He
pleaded guilty to the federal criminal charges in Case No. 7:15-cr-312-LSC-JEO.
The plaintiff has failed to establish that the court has subject-matter
jurisdiction over his complaint. The face of the complaint does not set forth any
basis for concluding that jurisdiction exists pursuant either to 28 U.S.C. § 1331
(federal question jurisdiction) or § 1332 (diversity of citizenship). Furthermore, as
the defendant argues, the face of the complaint does not indicate that the United
States of America has waived its sovereign immunity.
As the Supreme Court announced in Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994), “[f]ederal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute. . . .” Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(1) provides that “[a] pleading that states a claim for
relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s
jurisdiction . . . .” Notably, subject-matter jurisdiction exists (1) where the United
States Constitution or a federal statute provide a cause of action (federal question
jurisdiction) or (2) where complete diversity exists among the parties and the
amount-in-controversy exceeds $75,000 (diversity jurisdiction). See 28 U.S.C. §§
1331 and 1332. Diversity jurisdiction, however, does not exist between a plaintiff
and the United States 2; in other words, diversity jurisdiction cannot be used as a
Insofar as the plaintiff intends the complaint to sue Commonwealth Title and First Financial
Bank for fraud or negligence arising out of the “Logan Farms Subdivision” dispute (and there is
nothing in the pro se complaint indicating an intent to sue either of these entities), there is an
absence of complete diversity of citizen for jurisdictional purposes. While Commonwealth
might be a citizen of Florida (it is unclear because the complaint makes no jurisdictional
allegations), First Financial Bank is clearly identified as an Alabama bank.
basis to establish jurisdiction if a plaintiff sues only the United States. See 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1)-(4).
Additionally, the United States “may not be sued without its consent.”
United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983). “Absent a waiver, sovereign
immunity shields the Federal Government and its agencies from suit.” F.D.I.C. v.
Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994); see also United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S.
584, 586 (1941); JBP Acquisitions, LP v. United States, 224 F.3d 1260, 1263 (11th
Cir. 2000). “Sovereign immunity is jurisdictional in nature. Indeed, the ‘terms of
[the United States'] consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction
to entertain the suit.’” Meyer, 510 U.S. at 475 (quoting Sherwood, 312 U.S. at
586); see also Mitchell, 463 U.S. at 212 (1983) (“It is axiomatic that the United
States may not be sued without its consent and that the existence of consent is a
prerequisite for jurisdiction”).
Because “the burden of establishing [federal
jurisdiction] rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction,” Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at
377, a plaintiff “must prove an explicit waiver of [sovereign] immunity” when
suing the United States of America. Ishler v. Internal Revenue, 237 Fed. App’x
394, 398 (11th Cir. 2007).
Here, the plaintiff failed to state the grounds for subject-matter jurisdiction
in his complaint. He did not allege that any federal question jurisdiction existed.
As noted previously, the plaintiff cannot rely on diversity jurisdiction as a proper
basis of subject-matter jurisdiction in this case because he is suing only the United
States of America. Furthermore, the plaintiff has failed to allege a waiver of
sovereign immunity by the defendant.
Therefore, because the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate
this action, the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED for want of subjectmatter jurisdiction in the Amended Complaint. 3
The plaintiff’s complaint is
hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. 4
DONE and ORDERED on February 7, 2018.
T. MICHAEL PUTNAM
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
The court also takes notice that the Amended Complaint likely does not clearly state a
claim upon which relief can be granted as to any potential defendant, named and not named,
which makes the dismissal of the above-styled action appropriate under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
However, the defendant did not raise this argument in its Motion to Dismiss, and the court
pretermits any further discussion of this issue.
The multiple notices filed by the plaintiff, which appear to assert new causes of action
(see docs. 21 – 42, 44-48), do not establish subject matter jurisdiction for the underlying
amended complaint. In fact, the notices have no relation to the complaint or pending Motion to
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