Austin v. Budget Rental Car, Inc.

Filing 59

ORDER DISMISSING CASE, VACATING HEARING, AND DENYING 57 MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE. (whalc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 2/16/2021)Any non-CM/ECF Participants have been served by First Class Mail to the addresses of record listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 12 13 14 GEORGE J. AUSTIN, Plaintiff, 15 16 No. 3:20-cv-06229-WHA v. 17 BUGDET RENTAL CAR, INC., et al., 18 Defendant. 19 ORDER DISMISSING CASE, VACATING HEARING, AND DENYING MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE 20 21 22 INTRODUCTION In this breach of contract and insurance case against rental car companies and financial 23 institutions, the magistrate judge granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, dismissed the 24 complaint, but offered leave to amend. The amended complaint still lacks federal subject-matter 25 jurisdiction. The suit is DISMISSED. 26 27 28 STATEMENT Pro se plaintiff George Austin filed the instant case in September 2020. His original complaint alleged quite the set of claims against Budget Rental Car, Inc. (“Budget”). In addition to 1 breach of contract, the complaint tied Budget to “a very strange pattern of behavior,” allegedly 2 masterminding incentivized stalking, one instance of stealing plaintiff’s car, and dangerous 3 maneuvers by other drivers directed at plaintiff while on the highway. Threats of violence 4 culminated in plaintiff being rear-ended at a high speed and even being held at gunpoint (Compl. at 5 12–14). 6 Magistrate Judge Alex Tse granted plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis but 7 dismissed also the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) for failure to state a claim and for 8 want of federal jurisdiction. Judge Tse also noted that the “highly unusual” allegations of 9 “vigilantism,” stickups at gunpoint, and almost syndicate-like behavior against a well-known rental car company created a narrative “incredible enough to suggest that it is not based on provable 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 facts” (Dkt. No. 5 at 2). 12 Plaintiff declined magistrate-judge jurisdiction on September 18, 2020. Upon reassignment, 13 and following a barrage of other filings, plaintiff ultimately filed a timely amended complaint. 14 This order now reviews the sufficiency of the amended complaint per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). 15 ANALYSIS 16 Without jurisdiction, a federal court cannot hear a suit. Subject-matter jurisdiction arises 17 when a complaint poses a federal question or if parties are of diverse citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 18 1331, 1332. 19 Federal-question jurisdiction stems from the presence of one or more legal claims in the 20 complaint that “arise under” federal law, that is, (1) the asserted claim finds its origin in federal 21 law, or (2) a state-law claim raises a substantial and disputed federal issue, resolution of which will 22 not disrupt the congressionally approved balance between federal and state courts. See 28 U.S.C. § 23 1331; Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. v. Manning, 578 U.S.___, 136 S. Ct. 1562, 24 1569–70 (2016). 25 Jurisdiction under the first test requires a federal claim for relief. The amended complaint 26 recites no such claim, so jurisdiction only exists if some substantial dispute of federal law, under 27 the second prong, nonetheless remains. Because plaintiff cites California decisions applying 28 California law, no federal issue presents itself. Nevertheless, plaintiff asserts “[i]n Austin v. 2 1 Budget, et. al. several plaintiffs’ [sic.] claims for bringing suit are based in federal law,” and he 2 does cite one federal statute, 49 U.S.C. § 30106(b), which refers to financial responsibilities of 3 vehicle owners and business entities that rent motor vehicles (Amd. Compl. at 11, 54). The 4 section, however, is not the basis of a claim, nor does it create a dispute of federal law within 5 the state claims. In fact, the statute emphasizes that § 30106(b) does not “[supersede] the law 6 of any State,” thereby bolstering the complaint-wide invocation of California state law. 7 Federal-question jurisdiction failing, diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity 8 between citizens of different states with an amount in controversy that surpasses $75,000. See 9 NewGen, LLC v. Safe Cig, LLC, 840 F.3d 606, 613–14 (9th Cir. 2016); Grancare, LLC v. Mills ex rel. Thrower, 889 F.3d 543, 548 (9th Cir. 2018); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). For a corporation to be 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 considered a resident of a certain state, its formal site of incorporation and principal place of 12 business must be supplemented with affiliations in that state of so continuous and systematic a 13 nature as to render that corporation “at home” there. See Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 14 139 (2014). 15 Plaintiff’s complaint craters because several defendants reside in California, just like plaintiff 16 (Dkt. No. 50). This order takes judicial notice, via records from the California Secretary of State, 17 “whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned,” that both UNCLE (CA Entity No. C0331374) 18 and Premier Community (CA Entity No. C0147141) credit unions are California corporations, 19 duplicative with principal locations in Livermore and Stockton, respectively. Khoja v. Orexigen 20 Therapeutics, 899 F.3d 988, 999 (9th Cir. 2018); see Business Search, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF 21 STATE, (last accessed Feb. 14, 2021). Without considering the 22 amount in controversy, § 1332 jurisdiction fails. 23 CONCLUSION 24 This Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and does not address whether the amended 25 complaint states a claim. The suit is DISMISSED. The hearing is VACATED. The motion for 26 extension of time to file is DENIED. Leave to amend will not be allowed due to futility. If plaintiff 27 28 3 1 2 wishes to pursue this action, he must do so by way of appeal. IT IS SO ORDERED. 3 4 Dated: February 16, 2021. 5 6 WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 7 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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