Corbett v. State of Alabama et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 2 MOTION for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and DISMISSING CASE WITHOUT PREJUDICE for lack of jurisdiction. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 4/7/2017. (JLC)
2017 Apr-07 AM 11:08
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
GLENN ALLEN CORBETT,
STATE OF ALABAMA, et al.,
) Case No. 5:16-cv-01967-MHH
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND DISMISSAL ORDER
Pro se plaintiff Glenn Allen Corbett filed a complaint against defendants
State of Alabama, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, and Robert Bentley.
(Doc. 1). Mr. Corbett also filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
(Doc. 2). For the reasons stated below, the Court has determined that it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Corbett’s lawsuit. Consequently, the Court
must dismiss the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am.
Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999). Therefore, “they have the power
to decide only certain types of cases.” Morrison v. Allstate Indem. Co., 228 F.3d
1255, 1260-61 (11th Cir. 2000). Generally speaking, a federal district court may
exercise subject matter jurisdiction only where the action presents a federal
question or where the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 & 1332. “[B]ecause a federal court is powerless to
act beyond its statutory grant of subject matter jurisdiction, a court must zealously
insure that jurisdiction exists over a case, and should itself raise the question of
subject matter jurisdiction at any point in the litigation where a doubt about
jurisdiction arises.” Smith v. GTE, 236 F.3d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 2001).
The Court’s examination of its subject matter jurisdiction in this case begins
with Mr. Corbett’s complaint. Mr. Corbett completed the form for a pro se general
complaint in a civil case. (Doc. 1). On the form, Mr. Corbett checked a box
alleging that a constitutional or federal question is the basis for federal court
jurisdiction. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Mr. Corbett did not identify a federal statute or
constitutional provision at issue in this case. (Doc. 1, p. 3). When asked to
provide a statement of his claim, Mr. Corbett stated, ‘I was arrested [o]n 26 July
2007 and now I am requesting public records of dash cam video of the arrest.”
(Doc. 1, p. 4). When asked to describe the relief he seeks, Mr. Corbett explained
that he wants to obtain “records of [his] arrest including dash cam video.” (Doc. 1,
A district court must interpret pro se pleadings liberally, but it “may not
serve as de facto counsel for a party . . . or rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading
in order to sustain an action.” Ausar-El ex rel. Small, Jr. v. BAC (Bank of
America) Home Loans Servicing LP, 448 Fed. Appx. 1, 2 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). Though it has tried, the Court cannot identify a
claim that arises under the United States Constitution or federal law. The Court
has located no federal statutory or constitutional right to obtain a dash cam video. 1
Therefore, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Moreover, the Court finds no basis for diversity of citizenship jurisdiction.
“[I]t is well established that a state is not a citizen of a state for the purpose of
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.” Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco
Co., 168 F.3d 405, 412 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing Moor v. Alameda Cty., 411 U.S.
693, 717 (1973)). Therefore, the State of Alabama is not a citizen for purposes of
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. In addition, Governor Bentley is an Alabama
citizen as is Mr. Corbett. (See Doc. 1, p. 3). Accordingly, the Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Triggs v. John Crump Toyota,
Inc., 154 F.3d 1284, 1287 (11th Cir. 1998) (“Diversity jurisdiction requires
complete diversity; every plaintiff must be diverse from every defendant.”).
Because the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this action,
it cannot hear and decide the case. See Morrison, 228 F.3d at 1265 (“[F]ederal
This is not an action arising under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, because
FOIA gives individuals the right to access information from the federal government agencies,
and local police records are not federal public records. Mr. Corbett may have a cause of action
under the Alabama Open Records ActError! Main Document Only., Ala. Code § 36-12-40, but
this Court does not have jurisdiction over a claim alleging a violation of Alabama’s Open
courts are empowered to hear only cases for which there has been a congressional
grant of jurisdiction, and once a court determines that there has been no grant that
covers a particular case, the court’s sole remaining act is to dismiss the case for
lack of jurisdiction.”).
Accordingly, the Court dismisses this action without prejudice and denies
Mr. Corbett’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court asks the Clerk to
please close the file.
DONE and ORDERED this April 7, 2017.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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