Bell v. Birmingham Board of Education et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION - Because the amended complaint does not assert any federal claims, the court lacks federal question jurisdiction over the case. Moreover, the amended complaint does not assert or show that the court has diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court WILL DISMISS this action WITHOUT PREJUDICE for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Signed by Judge Annemarie Carney Axon on 10/14/2020. (KEK)
2020 Oct-14 PM 03:00
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
DEKORRIE K BELL,
BIRMINGHAM BOARD OF
EDUCATION, et al.,
Before the court is Plaintiff DeKorrie Bell’s amended complaint, which
asserts claims of obstruction of justice, hindering prosecution, and negligence
against Defendant Birmingham Board of Education. (Doc. 7).
Because the amended complaint does not assert any federal claims, the court
lacks federal question jurisdiction over the case. Moreover, the amended complaint
does not assert or show that the court has diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly, the
court WILL DISMISS this action WITHOUT PREJUDICE for lack of subject
Ms. Bell filed an initial complaint against Defendant Birmingham Board of
Education and Defendant Carver Washington High School, alleging claims of
discrimination, obstruction of justice, violations of her civil rights, hindering
prosecution, and “gender equality,” based on her expulsion in 1998 for using the
female restroom at school. (Doc. 1 at 2–3, 5). The magistrate judge granted
Ms. Bell’s application to proceed in forma pauperis, but, noting that the complaint
appeared to assert claims barred by the statute of limitations, ordered her to file an
amended complaint. (Doc. 6). Ms. Bell’s amended complaint supersedes her initial
complaint. See Pintando v. Miami-Dade Hous. Agency, 501 F.3d 1241, 1243 (11th
Ms. Bell’s amended complaint names only the Birmingham Board of
Education as a defendant, and asserts as claims (1) obstruction of justice,
(2) hindering prosecution, and (3) negligence. (Doc. 7 at 1–3, 12). She alleges that
she was not hired for a job for which she had applied because she was unable to
acquire verification of schooling from the Birmingham Board of Education or
Carver High School due to their filing system. (Doc. 7 at 9). She also refers to a
federal case that affected her custody and led to a sexual assault. (Id. at 8).
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994), and “have an independent obligation to
determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even if no party raises the
issue,” In re Trusted Net Media Holdings, LLC, 550 F.3d 1035, 1042 (11th Cir.
2008) (en banc) (quotation marks omitted).
The court has subject matter jurisdiction over actions that “arise under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States,” 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or that satisfy
the requirements of diversity jurisdiction, id. § 1332(a). In this case, Ms. Bell asserts
only that the court has federal question jurisdiction; she does not attempt to assert
the existence of diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 7 at 3). But she has not alleged a claim
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. Instead, she
asserts only claims arising under state law: claims of obstruction of justice, hindering
prosecution, and negligence.
Those claims cannot support federal question
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Moreover, although Ms. Bell makes one passing reference to her due process
rights (see doc. 7 at 9), she repeatedly indicates that her claims are for obstruction of
justice, hindering prosecution, and negligence, and she does not indicate that she is
attempting to assert a due process claim (see id. at 3, 9, 12; see also doc. 14). Even
if Ms. Bell did attempt to assert a due process claim, she has not set out any facts
that could plausibly support a due process claim. See Blue Cross & Blue Shield of
Alabama v. Sanders, 138 F.3d 1347, 1352 (11th Cir. 1998) (stating that a court may
dismiss a federal claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction if the “claim is wholly
insubstantial and frivolous” and “has no plausible foundation”) (quotation marks
The claims asserted in the amended complaint do not arise under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Nor does
the amended complaint provide any other basis to find the existence of subject matter
See id. §§ 1332(a), 1367(a) (permitting the court to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction only if the court has original jurisdiction over some part
of the action). Accordingly, the court WILL DISMISS this action for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
The court will enter a separate final order consistent with this opinion.
DONE and ORDERED this October 14, 2020.
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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