Weinacker v. Callaway et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION granting the 14 Motion to Dismiss. This matter is dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Signed by District Judge Abdul K. Kallon on 9/29/2016. (tgw)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
TERESA Y. WEINACKER,
HENRY A. CALLAWAY, et al.,
Civil Action Number
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Teresa Y. Weinacker brings this action against Henry A. Callaway, Hand
Arendall, LLC, Robert Stevenson, Michael Henry, and National Loan Acquisitions
Company (collectively “Defendants”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1331 and 1332,
alleging various causes of action under Alabama law. Doc. 1 at 2, 5–12. The
defendants have moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the
dispute. Doc. 14. Specifically, they contend that because Weinacker shares the
same citizenship as some of the defendants, this court cannot hear this dispute. For
the reasons below, the motion to dismiss is due to be granted.
Article III courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and can only hear claims
for which they are authorized to do so. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Palmore v. United States, 411 U.S. 389
(1973). Therefore, they are “obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte whenever it may be lacking.” Bochese v. Town of Ponce Inlet, 405 F.3d
964, 975 (11th Cir. 2005); 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Where a court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, “the court must dismiss the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3); Morrison
v. Allstate Indem. Co., 228 F.3d 1255 (11th Cir. 2000). The burden of establishing
jurisdiction, then, rests on the pleader who must “affirmatively allege facts
demonstrating the existence of jurisdiction and include ‘a short plain statement of
the grounds upon which the court’s jurisdiction depends.’” Taylor v. Appleton, 30
F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994). Where a plaintiff seeks to invoke federal
jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, “the complaint must allege that the
plaintiff and the defendants are citizens of different states.” Eisenberg v. McCulley,
606 F. App’x 570, 570–71 (11th Cir. 2015). Put simply, “[d]iversity jurisdiction
does not exist unless each defendant is a citizen of a different State from each
plaintiff.” Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978).
Turning to the facts at issue, Weinacker, an Alabama resident, has filed this
lawsuit against two out-of-state defendants and at least three defendants who are
also residents of Alabama. Doc. 1 at 1. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), diversity
jurisdiction only exists where there is complete diversity between the parties.
Lincoln Property Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005). In other words, the
existence of the Alabama defendants destroys this court’s diversity jurisdiction.
Carden v. Arkoma Associates, 494 U.S. 185, 187 (1990). Weinacker’s reliance on
State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Tashire, 386 U.S. 523 (1967), for the contention
that she can satisfy the jurisdictional requirements by ‘minimal diversity,’ see doc.
15, is misplaced. Tashire addressed the interpleader statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1335,
which applies where there are “two or more adverse claimants, of diverse
citizenship,” and was concerned with the problems “posed by multiple claimants to
a single fund.” Tashire, 386 U.S. at 530. In contrast, Weinacker is the sole
claimant and has based her claim of jurisdiction on 28 U.S.C. § 1332, which
requires complete diversity between the parties.
Weinacker’s alternative contention that subject matter jurisdiction exists
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because she has purportedly pleaded a claim arising under
federal law, also misses the mark. This argument centers on Weinacker’s claim
that federal law is implicated because she is suing these defendants as a result of
her criminal conviction in federal court. Doc. 15 at 2–3. Unfortunately for
Weinacker, a claim arises under federal law, and therefore satisfies federal
question jurisdiction, “where the vindication of a right under state law necessarily
turn[s] on some construction of federal law . . .” Franchise Tax Bd. of State of Cal.
v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust for So. Cal., 103 S. Ct. 2841, 2846
(1983). Put simply, to maintain a claim under § 1331, Weinacker needs to allege
that the principal issue in this case involves the construction or application of
federal law. Grable & Sons Metal Products, Inc. v. Darue Engineering & Mfg.,
545 U.S. 308, 311–313 (2005). That the Defendants’ alleged fraudulent conduct
purportedly led to her conviction of federal crimes unfortunately does not establish
that her state law claims against them involves the construction of federal law.
Accordingly, the motion to dismiss, doc. 14, is GRANTED. This matter is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
DONE the 29th day of September, 2016.
ABDUL K. KALLON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?